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Social Studies: Civics

Objective: To help students understand the development of government from the Big Man concept to present times, understanding this is not just a Western development, but an ongoing one. Also to expose students to political thought around the world.

Overview: The decision to use a play format ensures students with different learning styles will benefit. They will also see their own political positions on key issues and relate them to world leaders with similar views.

Duration: One Week

Tools and Resources:
Software: Spreadsheet and word-processing software, videotape
Hardware: Computer, Internet connection and a video recorder, if so desired, to tape the performance.

Web Sites:

  • Main site with a play based on the history of government Visit Web site
  • Elections and Electoral Systems from around the world Visit Web site  
  • This site is a listing of political sites sorted by country, with links to parties, organizations, governments, media and more from around the world. Visit Web site
  • Political party results by state -- Excel document that needs to be interpreted by students
    Visit Web site
    Visit Web site
  • Forming a government resource site Visit Web site

Teacher Resources:

Student Resources:

  • Students take this test to find out where they stand politically. They may then do a report on the individual they most think like. Visit Web site

Other:

  • Students may also want to find out who donated money to political parties in their home area. This site provides that data Visit Web site

Preparation: Have students brainstorm how decisions are made in their home, in their personal life and in society. Explain the concept of democracy, and examine the governments of previously studied countries. It is important for the teacher to look at all the sites provided and decide the extent of this lesson. The unit can be kept basic -- the history of government and types of government in a selected area -- or be broadened into religion, climate and financial elements.

Procedure:

  1. Introduce subject by asking student to decide which is the best pet, car or place to visit. They are told they must make a decision independently.
  2. Next, they must get others to agree with them.
  3. Finally, using compromise, the class must agree in total. What they are doing is acting like a government. How did they learn those skills? Why didn't the biggest person or strongest group just take over? Ask them if they feel all decisions are made this way.
  4. Next, have the students work through the websites, starting with the history of government site.
  5. Have the students create a series of spreadsheets or tables to relate government types to population, religion, geography, male-female ratio, and even weather.
  6. Now students should understand various types of governments as they changed through time and be able to act out and record a drama in which they actively participate in this process. They should select actors, and the teacher should have scripts for everyone.
  7. Successful students will be able to write a compare-and-contrast essay, relating various types of governments from the past to the present.
  8. Using the resource page provided, have students create maps of various countries with links to political parties in those countries. Also have them create a table and list the types of governments in those countries.
  9. In addition, have them visit the political compass site, take the test, and write a review about the person most closely aligned with their feelings as listed on the web site.
  10. Finally, ask students to select two states and review the major political stories of the day from that state's major newspapers. They will create a spreadsheet indicating what stories came from what states and try to determine the political character of the state from their data. Next, have them check the site listing the political parties for that state. Is there is a correlation between stories in the press and the political party in power?
  11. Teachers may wish to deal with the relationship between religion and politics, having students create a spreadsheet comparing a country's religion with the nature of its government. They can also explore contributions by zip code and political party.

 

Comments: This is a good lesson to introduce civics-related subject matter. It is designed so more advanced students can explore the world of politics, while other students can work on the fundamentals of government, including those in their home country.