FREEBIE: Senate Confirmation Worksheet

Freebie -- Senate Confirmation Worksheet. Free instructions, lesson plan, and easy to use worksheet to help students track information and analyze the proceedings of the Senate during confirmation hearings for cabinet posts and Supreme Court justices. Helps teachers easily use video primary source footage in government, current events, and U.S. history classes!There’s a ton of great content on C-SPAN, allowing government and U.S. history teachers
to show students how the dry stuff of textbooks is actually real and relevant in the present day. It’s one thing to read about the rules of filibusters, after all, and
quite another to tune into live Senate proceedings and show students a filibuster in progress. Well, a speaking one at least. I know that lately the traditional speaking filibuster isn’t the most common format. But that’s another discussion entirely.

If your students are remotely like mine, however, you’ll find that it’s a bit hard for them to keep their focus when watching Senate or House proceedings on C-SPAN. The coverage is educational, no doubt about it, but that fact alone won’t stop their eyes from glazing over after about five minutes. That’s why I always like to have students doing some thinking as they watch, with a worksheet to hold them accountable.

This last week has been a treasure trove on C-SPAN, with live Senate coverage of confirmation hearings for the president-elect’s proposed cabinet officers. Thinking we’d spend at least one class period watching and discussing the proceedings, I dashed off a quick worksheet to help students track and analyze what they were seeing. It’s nothing terribly fancy, but I imagine it could help other teachers with both learning and classroom management issues while watching Senate coverage that includes these or any other confirmation hearings.

About this Senate Confirmation Worksheet

  • It’s designed to be highly flexible. Students fill in the date of the hearing, the nominee being considered, and the position to which the nominee aspires. This means you can use the worksheet not just in the next couple of weeks for President-Elect Trump’s cabinet nominees, but for any nominee moving forward — including the inevitable judicial nominee that will at some point be put forth to fill the late Justice Scalia’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court
  • It doesn’t require any teacher prep other than making copies.
  • It can be used not just with C-SPAN live coverage via their website, but also with recorded versions of Senate confirmation hearings. C-SPAN often has a way for you to “watch from the beginning” of the hearing. Look for this on their website if the hearing is not at a convenient place to show live in class. I was planning to show live coverage one day this week, only to find out that the Senate had taken a break during my government class period! Thankfully, my lesson plan still worked out fine; I just clicked on the “Watch from beginning” button and moved the slider on the video feed over about 45 minutes so that we wouldn’t be bogged down with several lengthy opening statements.
  • It’s best suited to the Q&A portion of a confirmation hearing. The worksheet isn’t set up to help students deal with opening statements or nominee introductions. It’s designed to go with the portion of a confirmation hearing when nominees are being interviewed / quizzed on their view by senators.
  • It can also work in U.S. history classes. The most obvious use of the worksheet is in government and current events classes. However, if you can find historical footage on YouTube or other services that shows a past confirmation hearing, the worksheet will also work perfectly. This would let you and your class dive straight into primary source footage of historical events. So when you and your class read about the 1980s and Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court — a nomination that would ultimately fail — you can show students a part of the hearing and let them analyze it using the worksheet.

The Nitty-Gritty

Here’s how this Senate confirmation hearing worksheet works:Senate Confirmation Hearings Freebie!! Free instructions, lesson plan, and easy to use worksheet to help students track information and analyze the proceedings of the Senate during confirmation hearings for cabinet posts and Supreme Court justices. Helps teachers easily use video primary source footage in government, current events, and U.S. history classes!

  • Students are asked to fill out the nominee, the position sought, the hearing context (full Senate? Specific committee instead?) and the date of the hearing.
  • Students wait for a question, then summarize it briefly.
  • Students determine if the question is fair to the nominee, and also if it is a valid question — one which is appropriate to ask. They simply check off yes or no to this issue, since minimal writing means more attention can be paid to listening to the video feed.
  • Students listen to the nominee’s answer and decide if they think the nominee should or should not be confirmed based on that single answer.
  • Students write comments as needed to explain their perspectives about questions or answers.

That’s all there is to it! You can probably work up an activity page of your own along those lines in nothing flat, but why bother when you can download my version for free?  🙂

A Class Lesson Plan for Watching a Confirmation Hearing

My own usage of the worksheet looks approximately like this:

  • Briefly orient students to activity. Pass out worksheets.
  • Watch approx. 30 minutes of a confirmation hearing while students view with me and fill out their worksheets.
  • During the 30 minutes, hit pause or mute on the hearing as needed to clarify points for the class or ask them for feedback. After an interesting Q&A (typically 8 or 10 minutes of coverage), I might debrief with the class before resuming. On the other hand, I might wait until the 30 minutes are over and then debrief the students.
  • To debrief, I ask questions like this:  Who thought the question wasn’t fair or valid? Explain why you think that…. Who would confirm the nominee based on the last answer? Why? Who would refuse to confirm? Why?
  • I’ve found in my years of teaching that students in government really want to discuss issues and put forth their own views. When we debrief a confirmation hearing,  I usually get a lot of participation and engagement, sometimes even from students who don’t usually volunteer to speak in class!

Enjoy the Freebie!!

Elise Parker / Great History Teaching


Looking for more ways to engage your students’ interest in government and civics topics?

This Constitution project is intended to help students gain a much better understanding of the ways in which Congress actually uses its powers!  Students will choose an enumerated power, research 21st century uses of it, analyze a news article of their choosing, and write an original news article of their own demonstrating a fictitious use of another enumerated power. This U.S. government project includes detailed instructions and scaffolded support.

Constitution Project: Article I Enumerated Powers Analysis and Creative Writing

 

 

Perfect for American history, civics or government! Get real with students by doing close readings with key primary source texts essential for a solid understanding of American institutions and values. This Marbury v. Madison worksheet / close reading packet includes detailed suggested answers, annotation guide, text-dependent questions, and more!

Close Reading: Marbury v. Madison Supreme Court Decision

 

 

Bargain bundle of 30 Crash Course Government Worksheets. Includes episodes:  • 1 Why Study Government • 2 The Bicameral Congress • 3 Separation of Powers / Checks & Balances • 4 Federalism • 5 Constitutional Compromises • 6 Congressional Elections • 7 Congressional Committees • 8 Congressional Leadership • 9 How a Bill Becomes a Law • 10 Congressional Decision-Making • 11 & 12 Presidential Power Parts 1 & • 13 Congressional Delegation • 14 How Presidents Govern • 15 The Bureaucracy and much more!

Crash Course U.S. Government Worksheets —
30 EPISODE BUNDLE — Episodes 1-30

FREEBIE: Senate Confirmation Worksheet

Making Elections Fun: Presidential Debate Bingo!

This versatile resource designed for elementary, middle, and high-school students is free for the taking!Free Presidential Debate Bingo Worksheets make elections more fun! 3 levels, works with grades 4-12! Great for historical debates *and* election season! Keeps students engaged and entertained as they watch and learn!

Having your students watch presidential debates is a hugely worthwhile endeavor whether it’s election season or not. Obviously when election day is approaching, it’s good to let students see what both major candidates have to say about the issues and the country.

Videos of past debates, though, can also be really useful when studying history. Imagine teaching the Cold War era and showing students segments from the iconic Kennedy/Nixon debates, for example.

Engagement is Key

The challenge of using presidential debates to help you teach current events or historical periods, however, is keeping students highly engaged while they watch. Most students, even in the earlier grades, can watch 5 minutes without their eyes glazing over, but much more than that and you might start losing the attention and interest of many of your students. This is particularly true for younger students, but it can also be a challenge even with high school seniors, since some of them are a *lot* more immature than others.

Keeping Students Engaged: Live Blogging

I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to keeping students engaged during debates. Sometimes, I have my classes do “live blogging,” where they’re commenting on the debate, and replying to one another’s comments, as they watch. This has been quite a successful strategy for me, but it does have a few drawbacks:

• Because students are writing commentary as they watch, they will definitely focus in on some points and miss others entirely.
• You’ll need internet access, a live blogging platform such as a discussion board, and quite a lot of student devices so they can all be online simultaneously.
• Even when students are trying their best to stay on task, their discussions will inevitably drift away from the debate issues at times.
• Live blogging assignments require quite a bit of maturity on the part of students. Younger students, or those who act like they’re still in middle or elementary school, can easily let an online discussion, especially one about a heated topic, degenerate into insults or other classroom-inappropriate language. Plus, since the students are online while the debate plays, some of them might be wandering all over the internet and not paying attention to the candidates at all.

A Solution at Your Fingertips! Presidential Debate Bingo!

Free Presidential Debate Bingo Worksheet for middle and high school makes elections more fun! Keeps students engaged and entertained as they watch and learn! Suitable for historical debates and election season!Presidential Debate Bingo is another handy technique you can employ for keeping students interested and engaged while watching a debate. Although I’ve prepared a free packet of Presidential Debate Bingo Worksheets to make life really easy for my fellow teachers, you don’t really need to print anything out in order to play bingo during debates. Just have students sketch out a grid, mark off the center square as a free zone, and explain how the game works.

So How Does Presidential Debate Bingo Work?Free Presidential Debate Bingo Worksheet for high school makes elections more fun! Keeps students engaged and entertained as they watch and learn! Suitable for historical debates and election season!

Once students have a grid ready, either one they’ve drawn themselves or one you’ve printed off from my free Presidential Debate Bingo sheets, you have them predict what key words or phrases they expect to hear during the debate. Have them fill in one word or phrase per square on their grid.

This usually takes between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the size of the grid in use and the background knowledge level of the students.

When grids are ready, play the debate or the debate segment you want the class to watch. Tell students to listen carefully so that they can mark off their words/phrases as they occur. If you have stickers handy, students –even high school seniors!– love using them to mark off their squares. Otherwise, you can have students cross through their entries as they watch.

It’s as simple as that! If you’re like me, you might be raising your eyebrows at this point, wondering if students will really find debate bingo all that engaging. Honestly, I doubted it myself. But when I gave it a try, I was very pleasantly surprised! Students were highly engaged and on-task as they tried to come up with words and phrases to use in their grids — they were really intent on coming up with things they thought would definitely come up during the debate.

Then, during the debate, they were *riveted,* listening for the key words they had identified. Students who are normally fairly apathetic about classroom activities can get extremely focused as they try to win the game. And this was when I hadn’t offered any prizes! They wanted to win for the sake of it, but that’s okay with me if it produced higher student engagement to help them learn.

Three Presidential Debate Bingo Worksheets to Choose From!Free Presidential Debate Bingo Worksheet for elementary school makes elections more fun! Keeps students engaged and entertained as they watch and learn!

My Presidential Debate Bingo worksheets offer three pre-made levels. All that changes from level to level is the size of the grid and the complexity of the instructions. For elementary school, I recommend the 3 x 3 grid. For middle school and 9th-10th grade, the 5 x 5 grid is probably a better choice. High school juniors and seniors can probably handle the 7 x 7 grid, especially if they’ve watched a previous debate between the same two candidates, or if their studies include a good dose of current events.

Helpful Pointers

• Be specific about what kinds of entries you expect. The larger grids I’ve made specify that students should use nouns. This is to avoid having students fill their grids with words that will appear in any conversation, such as he, she, that, of, the.
• Requiring nouns means doing a little grammar review with some students, but that’s good! I also tell them that noun phrases are fine.
• During the brainstorming phase, it’s a good idea to prompt the class with categories that might come up in the debate. So, for example: “Don’t use the candidates’ own names, but try to think of what other people they might mention. You can write down their names.” Or: “What countries have been in the news lately? You could use country names in some of your squares.” Or: “If you can think of an issue that might come up, you can fill some squares with vocabulary commonly used for that issue. For example, if you think they might debate education, you could try words like teacher, school, textbook….”
• Before you start the video, tell students what speech counts for marking off their grids. Just what the candidates say? What about what the moderator or town hall participants mention? Create a clear rule.
• Consider playing blackout instead of bingo. In my experience, most students get so many squares marked off that blackout is probably the better choice.
• Decide in advance if you want to have some small prizes available. Students love this game regardless, but prizes could make it even more fun.

I hope this free resource helps you make the most of presidential debates, current-day or historical, in class!


If you’re like me and you love to use primary sources in history class, you might find these teaching packets useful. New Deal Worksheets: Propaganda Poster Analysis  are great for students who like visual learning or who just want a break from traditional textbook narratives. The Four Freedoms Close Reading, in contrast, asks students to dive deep into complex text and is a perfect FDR Common Core activity!

New Deal Worksheets: Propaganda Poster Analysis Activities take students back in time to the 1930s. Bring history to life with primary sources! All multiple choice means teachers spend less time correcting!  Common Core FDR Close Reading dives deep into the Four Freedoms, challenging students to work with complex text and come away with a heightened understanding of the principles underlying FDR's political philosophy.

Making Elections Fun: Presidential Debate Bingo!

The Powers that Be: A New Way to Analyze the Preamble

Help your students understand the Preamble as never before even as they engage in critical analysis skills, examining the Enumerated Powers of Congress as listed in Article I by comparing them to the goals of government found in the Preamble. Full instructions included in this blog post to help you take your Constitution teaching to the next level!

When studying the  U.S. Constitution, it makes a lot of sense to start at the Preamble, but bringing that text to life is easier said than done. In a lot of government and history classes, students read and discuss the Preamble; they may even be assigned to memorize and recite it. But then the class moves on into Article I without much else.

Six Goals of Government

The Preamble provides six reasons why the Constitution is being written:

  • To form a more perfect union
  • To establish justice
  • To insure domestic tranquility
  • To provide for common defense
  • To promote the general welfare
  • To secure the blessings of liberty to the founding generation as well as future generations

These can also be thought of as six reasons for the new government to exist, or six things that the government is supposed to accomplish. Government classes typically go over all the items to be sure students understand what each goal means; many teachers will take the discussion a step further by asking students to come up with things they believe the government could do, or does already do, to accomplish these six stated objectives.

A Better Way: A Deeper Analysis

Once I’m sure that my students can restate the six goals in their own words, I like to help them to acquire a much more in-depth understanding of what those goals meant back in 1789. What did “insuring domestic tranquility” look like to the founding generation?

To do this, I have students compare the Preamble with the Enumerated Powers of Congress, found in Article I Section 8. The Enumerated Powers is a list of eighteen entries, each of which puts forth one or more things that the United States Congress is definitely empowered to do. My goal is to guide the students toward a careful consideration of the relationships between these two sections of the Constitution.

How to Begin the Analysis

It’s good to get started by modeling one sample comparison. For this, I pick something simple from the Enumerated Powers. For example, according to the Enumerated Powers, Congress is authorized to establish post offices. Which of the six goals does that power support? Is there a relationship between the creation of post offices and promoting the general welfare? How can it help to provide for the common defense? What about domestic tranquility?

I have the class discuss the connections they can forge between the six goals in the Preamble and the post office clause. This requires them to put themselves in the place of the Founders and consider their life circumstances, including the technology of their day — the post office was a much more vital means of communication then than it is in the current day, which features any number of electronic alternatives.

In some cases, they may decide that there is NO relationship between post offices and a certain goal of government as stated in the Preamble. And that’s fine — not everything Congress is authorized to do will relate to all six goals, certainly. It is my contention, however, that each one of the Enumerated Powers should and does support at least one of the six goals. The exercise in class, then, becomes a matter of matching up each power with one or more of the six available goals.

Next Steps

Once the class understands the comparison process, I like to set them loose to work with the Enumerated Powers in pairs or small groups. For each power they consider, they need to do two things:

  • Match up the power to one or more of the Preamble goals
  • Be prepared to explain and justify their match-ups, persuading others that indeed, the power can be used to accomplish the goal(s) claimed

I usually insist that each group write down its findings and rationales so they can be clear and concise later when sharing their thoughts with the class.

Instructional Options

To assign the comparison, you might print off a list of the Enumerated Powers. If you don’t want to create one yourself, you could consider using the Enumerated Powers Analysis Worksheet packet linked at the end of these instructions.

If You Only Have One Class Period for the Activity:

Slice the print-out into pieces, giving each pair or group two or three powers to work with. This would probably take them 10 or 15 minutes; you could use the balance of the class period to have each group share its findings with the class, defending their match-ups against challenges by other groups.

If You Have Two Class Periods:

Alternatively, you might ask each pair or group to do match-ups for all of the Enumerated Powers. This would probably occupy the students for most of a class period, and the next day could be used to call on students randomly to state and justify their match-ups. This approach conveniently means that students can be assigned to complete their match-ups as homework, assuming that they need more than one full class period to work with the Enumerated Powers.

The second option takes longer, but has a strong advantage in that it will require each student to do direct work with all of the Enumerated Powers. This can provide a good foundation for further study of the Constitution and U.S. government. With the first option, however, you can still guarantee that all students are at least exposed to all the Enumerated Powers, simply by making sure that you go through all of them while you are asking groups to justify their findings.

Looking Backwards

Another way to use this approach is to wait until you reach Article I, Section 8 in your regular curriculum sequence. In my classes, we get there right after we study Section 7, since it’s my practice to read through the entire Constitution with my students every year, discussing all provisions as we go. Or you might reach the Enumerated Powers when your textbook deals with them.

If you do the comparison then, you’ll help students to review the Preamble and reinforce their earlier understanding of it. At the same time, you’ll be helping them to gain a much more thorough understanding of the Enumerated Powers.

Either way you proceed, it’s a win-win!

Enumerated Powers Worksheets

You can do this activity with very few materials. All you really need are printouts of the Preamble and the Enumerated Powers, and those can be easily created just by selecting text from an online version of the Constitution. In a pinch, you can even do the activity without any printouts at all — just have students refer to the Constitutions printed in their government textbooks. This makes comparing a little more difficult as they might have to flip back and forth between the Preamble and the powers.

Another option is to use these Preamble and Enumerated Powers Worksheets I’ve prepared to facilitate the activity. The packet linked below contains additional instructions and teaching tips to help you make the most as you guide your students through this deeper analysis of constitutional thought.

Click below to find out more this quick and fun hands-on Constitution analysis activity!

Reading the Constitution is one thing, but thinking carefully and critically about it is far more valuable! This worksheet will give teachers the tools they need to help students analyze the Enumerated Powers of Congress. Many students find the Enumerated Powers rather boring, but there's no reason for that, not when they are given the opportunity to dive deep into the text and do a little close reading analysis! The goal of the worksheet is to encourage students to think more deeply about how actions by Congress can serve the nation by fulfilling the goals of government listed in the Preamble.


Other Constitution Activities You Might Find Useful:

Liven up your government teaching with this guided Constitution Article I worksheet that takes students through the details of the legislative branch. These worksheets let students really get into the primary source text instead of relying on textbook authors to tell them what the Constitution says about Congress -- and because it is a complete look at Article I, it covers a lot of ground that textbooks tend to overlook!

A GUIDED WORKSHEET THAT TAKES STUDENTS ALL THE WAY THROUGH ARTICLE I

Liven up your government teaching with this guided Constitution Article I worksheet that takes students through the details of the legislative branch. These worksheets let students really get into the primary source text instead of relying on textbook authors to tell them what the Constitution says about Congress — and because it is a complete look at Article I, it covers a lot of ground that textbooks tend to overlook!

 


This Article I project, in contrast, will help students apply what they are reading to the modern United States in which they live. This Constitution project is intended to help students gain a much better understanding of the ways in which Congress currently uses the powers granted to it in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution -- the portion of the text that's commonly referred to as the “Enumerated Powers.”

A GOVERNMENT PROJECT THAT HELPS STUDENTS SEE THE POWERS OF CONGRESS IN ACTION!

As they complete the steps of this Article I Project, students will:
• Re-read the Enumerated Powers, looking for ones that most interest them
• Research reputable news sources looking for instances in which Congress has recently used one or more of the Enumerated Powers
• Evaluate the newsworthiness of online sources
• Summarize and analyze a news article
• Demonstrate their understanding of a specific enumerated power by marking the text of a news article they choose
• Demonstrate their understanding of the same news article by composing critical thinking questions about it
• Craft an original news story of their own that demonstrates Congress using another one of their Enumerated Powers
• Practice key electronic publishing skills to make their creative writing piece look polished and professional
• Gain confidence in public speaking by performing a dramatic reading of their creative writing piece

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Quick and Easy Due Process of Law Simulation

FREE -- 10 Minute Simulation: Due Process of Law. FREE PDF Due Process of Law lesson plan helps students to quickly gain a clear understanding of both procedural due process and substantive due process. Critical thinking and extended learning activities included including a free fundamental rights worksheet and answer key. Makes civics come to life with examples students can relate to!
CLICK FOR FREE PDF DOWNLOAD OF COMPETE TEACHING PACKET

Each year as my classes read through the U.S. Constitution, we encounter the phrase “due process of law” in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Defining due process is pretty simple: the government has to follow its own rules when depriving someone of their life, liberty, or property — the justice system is not allowed to “make up” new rules that apply just to a particular individual.

Due Process: A Better Definition

But that definition, of course, only provides a surface understanding of due process. In fact, it leaves out half the story since it only deals with what legal experts call “procedural” due process. That’s the easy to understand kind of due process, but it’s not the only kind. There’s also “substantive” due process, which in my experience has been a lot harder for students to grasp.

Being asked to follow rules, after all, is a concept students are well-acquainted with! It only seems sensible that the government should have to follow rules too. Substantive due process, on the other hand, basically deals with freedom itself. Are the laws being enforced ones that violate fundamental constitutional liberties? In other words, does the law itself cross a line that shouldn’t be crossed?

So that’s another reason why so many times people only think of the procedural variety when the phrase “due process of law” crops up. To truly grasp how substantive due process is applied in the courts to test laws, you have to first master what rights are considered to be those “fundamental constitutional liberties.”

Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse!

Really, though, you can communicate the concept of what substantive due process is without getting into the minutiae of fundamental rights — and that’s how I like to start. It’s really easy, too, building on students’ own experiences! Even better, this quick and easy due process simulation actually gets students to comprehend the basic nature of both procedural and substantive due process!

10 Minute Simulation – Step by Step Instructions

No materials needed other than your students’ rapt attention.  🙂

The directions are pretty long because I explain in detail. It won’t take long at all to actually do all the steps in class!

1) Quote the relevant portion of the Fifth Amendment to the class: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Tell them that today’s lesson will zero in on what exactly due process of law actually is — by using a simulation that warps school rules out of anything remotely reasonable! Explain that for purposes of the simulation, they should regard school rules as LAWS instead of just rules.

2) Remind the class that due process protects three basic kinds of rights. See if they can name them. If not, supply the list yourself, and then ask the class to choose one of the three rights: life, liberty, or property.

  • If the class chooses life, announce that a new law/school rule is now in effect:  Any student caught tying his or her shoelaces during a final exam will be executed by being drowned in chocolate sauce. (Be sensitive – see note after step #9.)
  • If the class chooses liberty, announce that a new law/school rule is in effect:  Any student caught yawning during a teacher’s lecture will be assigned to serve six hours of detention after school every day for the remainder of the school year.
  • If the class chooses property, announce that a new law/school rule is in effect:  Any student caught talking to classmates during break/recess/lunch will have all of his or her shoes and socks confiscated and will be banned from borrowing, purchasing, etc. any shoes or socks for the rest of the school year.

Note that those three punishments infringe on the life, liberty, or property rights of the offending students. But note also that the underlying “offenses” embedded in the new rules/laws are ludicrous. This will be important for understanding substantive due process.

3) Ask for a volunteer to play a student who has been “convicted” of the offense you just announced. (Let’s call the volunteer Anita Robertson.) Tell Anita that of course the school wants to be fair, so there’s a set of procedures the school has to follow before meting out the punishment earned. Go over the procedures with the class, perhaps supplying them with a written version for reference:

  • Student is allowed to submit objections in writing to the teacher who caught them.
  • If not satisfied, student can complain to the principal.
  • If still not satisfied, student can refer the discipline decision to the school board.
  • The school board has the final say. If they agree by majority vote with the discipline decision, the punishment will be carried out.

4) Run through the procedures. You could do this in a couple of ways:

  • Say, “Okay, Anita, you have complained to the teacher and he/she still says you have to be punished. What are you going to do next?” and then “Okay, you have told the principal and he/she is siding with the teacher. What are you going to do next?” and then, “Okay, the school board also thinks you should be punished. So that’s it. You are sentenced to —- (fill in with the punishment in question).
  • To jazz the simulation up more, enlist volunteers in advance. Make sure they agree to reply nothing but “guilty” no matter what Anita says. Then, in class, announce along the lines of, “Ok, Anita, here is the teacher who caught you. Make your case,” continuing until the school board has “convicted” her and there is no further appeal. Depending on your other volunteers, this could be fun — See if you can get Anita to plead, explain, etc. — only to be told “Guilty!” at every juncture.

5) Tell the class that justice has been done since the student has definitely received procedural due process. The school did, in fact, follow all of its own rules in applying this discipline. Announce the final result along the lines of “Therefore, because she was caught tying her shoelaces during a final exam, Anita Robertson will be executed by being drowned in chocolate sauce.”

6) Hopefully the class will voice some objection to what has happened! If not, ask them, maybe in a sing-song voice, “So, that was fair, wasn’t it? Anita deserves (fill in punishment)!” This should cue some objections. Play dumb and insist that of course the punishment is fair — after all, the proper procedures were followed! The goal here, of course, is to get the students to articulate that procedures aside, the law itself is wrong. Do what you can to get the students to that point.

7) Explain that when it comes to due process, then, the only issue is NOT the procedures the government follows. Also highly relevant is the law itself. Is it a law that should exist at all? If it is grossly unfair, punishing conduct that should not be punished, then it probably violates fundamental rights. Tell the class that when the courts are examining the LAW to see if it should be a law at all, this is known as substantive due process. Tell them that when the courts are just checking that the government has followed all the rules about how to arrest, charge, and convict someone, that is known as procedural due process. Ask for one or two students to explain the two types of due process. See if they can dream up an original example to illustrate the types.

8) Sum up by stating that yes, there are two types of due process, procedural and substantive, and that they are both important. Define them again if you feel that is needed. Then ask the class which type is more important. Get them talking/debating the issue.

9) Finally, announce that this matter went to court, where Anita’s lawyer argued that the school’s rule/law violated her substantive due process rights because it infringed on her fundamental liberties. As such, the discipline is cancelled and Anita is once again considered a student in good standing.

Be Sensitive to Your Own Students’ Situations

Some teachers may not want to deal with the “death penalty” scenario at all because it could be triggering for students who have had unfortunate experiences. Another reason to avoid it could be if students are very opposed to the death penalty on principle, since in that case it could be hard to focus the simulation on due process when the students are zeroing in on 8th Amendment considerations.

If a punishment that infringes on life is not, in your view, a good direction for the simulation, then just ask students to choose from liberty or property in step #2.

 Exaggerated by Design

Obviously, both the offenses and the punishments in the new “rules/laws” are ridiculous. This serves a purpose: It helps emphasize the simulated nature of what follows, since nobody would take those rules seriously. That can lighten up the situation a bit, because otherwise, some students might find it distressing to participate in or watch the simulation.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to run this simulation with items that sounded more real – imagine how students might react if the new “rule/law” was that students who cheated on the final exam would be automatically expelled. That’s close enough to possible that student reactions might be counter-productive to the point you’re making, which is to help them understand the two types of due process.

The fun thing about this simulation, of course, is that you can switch around the new rules/laws and the punishments to new ones that your own students might best relate to.

Ideas for Follow-Ups and Extended Thinking

The simulation should only take about 10 minutes, but if you want to continue the theme of procedural and substantive due process for considerably longer, one or more of these options might be useful.

  • Have students, individually or in teams, write a story that demonstrates both procedural and substantive due process in action. To help students get started, you could re-tell the simulation in story form to provide an example.
  • Explain that in U.S. courts, substantive due process doesn’t really mean that judges overrule any laws they find unfair or unreasonable. It means that they overrule laws that violate fundamental rights. Ask students to list those rights they believe are so fundamental that any law abridging them is automatically considered highly questionable. (Such laws can in fact be ruled valid, but only if the government can demonstrate a “compelling interest” that makes the law necessary.)
  • Continuing the theme of fundamental rights, ask students to complete the included worksheet (available in the free PDF download of the simulation — click the image at the top to jump to the product on my Teachers Pay Teachers store), which asks them to identify those rights they think should be fundamental, and also to anticipate the view of these rights by the nation’s judicial system. This worksheet has a trick/twist – ALL of the rights listed have been ruled to be “fundamental” by U.S. Courts, as can be seen on the answer key that follows the student worksheet. This twist makes the worksheet super-easy to correct and discuss with the class, plus it means that student responses provide instant feedback to them as to how much their thinking is in sync with current jurisprudence.

 

The following resources can be found in the free PDF download of this Quick and Easy Due Process of Law simulation.

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS WORKSHEET: YOU BE THE JUDGE

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS WORKSHEET ANSWER KEY

INTRODUCTION AND COMPLETE STEP-BY-STEP TEACHING PROCEDURE

ADDITIONAL TEACHING NOTES


 

Looking for more creative ways to engage your students’ interest in government and civics topics?

This Constitution project is intended to help students gain a much better understanding of the ways in which Congress actually uses its powers!  Students will choose an enumerated power, research 21st century uses of it, analyze a news article of their choosing, and write an original news article of their own demonstrating a fictitious use of another enumerated power. This U.S. government project includes detailed instructions and scaffolded support.

Constitution Project: Article I Enumerated Powers Analysis and Creative Writing

Perfect for American history, civics or government! Get real with students by doing close readings with key primary source texts essential for a solid understanding of American institutions and values. This Marbury v. Madison worksheet / close reading packet includes detailed suggested answers, annotation guide, text-dependent questions, and more!

Close Reading: Marbury v. Madison Supreme Court Decision

Bargain bundle of 30 Crash Course Government Worksheets. Includes episodes:  • 1 Why Study Government • 2 The Bicameral Congress • 3 Separation of Powers / Checks & Balances • 4 Federalism • 5 Constitutional Compromises • 6 Congressional Elections • 7 Congressional Committees • 8 Congressional Leadership • 9 How a Bill Becomes a Law • 10 Congressional Decision-Making • 11 & 12 Presidential Power Parts 1 & • 13 Congressional Delegation • 14 How Presidents Govern • 15 The Bureaucracy and much more!

Crash Course U.S. Government Worksheets —
30 EPISODE BUNDLE — Episodes 1-30

 

 

Quick and Easy Due Process of Law Simulation

Singing Along to the Cold War!

Incorporating primary sources is a useful Use music videos to teach key facts about the Cold War, even as you help students better grasp the ways in which the Cold War influenced popular culture, showing up in popular songs of the 1980s. FREE teaching notes for three music videos, complete with helpful links to those videos and related content on YouTube. This Cold War lesson plan can fit into most U.S. and world history classes, requires almost no prep, and is provided online at no cost at all! All you need is an internet connection and a way for students to watch the music videos with you!
approach in any history class, but how much better to use ones that really jazz up the classroom experience! Literally!

I use a lot of period music in my classes, from “The World Turned Upside Down,” rumored to have been played by the British at the formal surrender to George Washington, to the Jazz classics of the Harlem Renaissance. As much as I love music, though, I always enjoy these kinds of lessons the most when my classes reach the 1980s, since that’s when the music video really came into its own as an art form.

I mostly use what I consider to be “primary source” music videos. By this, I mean that when the song was new, the artist was commenting on current events, expressing a prevalent attitude to the events being lived through. You might be surprised what a treasure trove YouTube can be for this kind of content, particularly when it comes to hot topics like the Cold War.

Read on for details about three of the most useful Cold War teaching songs out there, complete with handy links!

The Berlin Wall: “Nikita”

I can show this video as soon as we reach the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s. After examining the reasons for the construction of the Wall and the development of it over time into a more and more formidable barrier, I tell the students that we’re going to take a look at a popular song from the mid-1980s. By then, the Wall had been established for more than 20 years and to many in the West, it seemed like it would never come down.

That’s the theme of Elton John’s “Nikita,” which tells the story of a man who can never be near the woman he loves because she is trapped in the East, behind the Berlin Wall. To make it even more interesting, she’s actually an East German border guard!

Teachable moments in “Nikita” include:

  • Contrast between freedom in the West and lack of choice in the East
  • Censorship of correspondence in the East
  • Communist repression of the news and other media, such that Nikita will “never know” anything about the West
  • The use of visual imagery to make a point: regimented soldier marching is the primary movement in the East, while in the West, a free-flow of movement is a dominant visual theme
  • The “East meets West” checkpoints in the divided city of Berlin

Useful links for “Nikita:”

Elton John’s original video: HD video, nice and crisp!
Original song audio presented with on-screen lyrics: Good for showing if you want students to focus in on the meaning of the lyrics rather than the visual content.
Elton John’s original video with lyrics superimposed on-screen: The best of both worlds, and useful for showing if students have trouble making out some of the words. The drawback to this one, though, is that its not HD. The visual quality is noticeably lower than you’ll find at the first link in this list.

Cold War Ideology: “Russians”

This Sting song is best saved until your students reach the Reagan period of the Cold War. The theme of “Russians” is a hope that the Soviets “love their children too,” since that would mean they don’t want to initiate World War III any more than does the West.

Sting explained in an interview once what inspired him to write the song. While on tour in Finland, he turned on the TV and picked up Soviet programming. He could not understand the audio, but he was watching a children’s show, and it struck him very strongly that children’s cartoons were much the same in the Soviet zone as they were anywhere else. This made him question the ideology that suggested the Russians were somehow monstrous and not like people in the West; it also gave him hope for the future if the world could just make it through the dangers of the nuclear weapons age.

Teachable moments in “Russians” include:

  • The meaning of the word “ideology”
  • A perspective from a non-superpower nation.
  • A critique of the idea of “winnable war” and of the reliance on MAD: mutually assured destruction
  • References to Khrushchev, Oppenheimer, the atomic bomb, and Reagan
  • Oblique reference to Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative
  • A look at a very stylish artistic presentation that was influenced by Soviet film-making

Useful links for “Russians:”

Sting’s original music video: This very artistic video is in black and white with imagery that could lend itself to an entire lesson just on analysis

Cold war imagery slide show featuring “Russians” as the music track: This video seeks to accurately illustrate what Sting is singing about. When he mentions Khrushchev’s “We will bury you” comment, for example, on-screen is seen a photograph of the moment when Khrushchev issued the threat.

Both Sides of the Cold War: “Leningrad”

“Leningrad,” by Billy Joel, was written near the end of the Cold War and can serve as a useful retrospective over major events from WWII up to the time when it was written. “Leningrad” tells the Cold War story from two perspectives: that of a Soviet named Victor who was born in 1944, and from Joel’s own experiences starting with his birth in 1949. The result is a strong picture of how Cold War ideology and events affected ordinary people from the 1950s through the late 1980s.

The song strikes a hopeful note, with Joel observing that when met Victor, he realized that the Soviets could be his friends, instead of the enemies he’d been conditioned to think of them as.

Joel has stated in interviews that he was inspired to write “Leningrad” when he visited the Soviet Union shortly before the end of the Cold War and met Victor, who was working as a circus clown. Joel’s young daughter enjoyed the performance very much, which led Joel afterwards to meet with Victor in person. Upon hearing Victor’s life story, he decided to incorporate it into a song and use his own life experiences as a counterpoint to comment on the Cold War period.

Teachable moments in “Leningrad” include:

  • Russian losses in WWII
  • “Serving the state”  as an emphasis in Soviet education
  • McCarthyism
  • The Korean War
  • Air raid drills and bomb shelters in the United States
  • Levittown
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis
  • The Vietnam War

Useful links for “Leningrad:”

Billy Joel’s original music video: Presented as a mixture of primary source footage of Cold War events and Joel performing the song at the piano

Lyrics-only video of Leningrad: This one lets students read along as they listen to the song. There are no visuals to distract them; just white text on a black background.

Looking for more fun primary sources on the Cold War?

I recommend the 1980s movie War Games.  The story is fiction, but that’s part of its charm — it helps students understand the pervasive nature of Cold War fears during the early Reagan years, when it really did seem like nuclear weapons were going to be the death of us. The movie is a highly entertaining portrayal of those fears, and was actually so influential that when President Reagan saw it, he ordered that computer security around U.S. nuclear resources be improved as quickly as possible.

For more information on War Games and how it could fit into your world or U.S. history classes, click the image below, which will take you to the War Games Worksheets page at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

War Games Worksheets work great in U.S.  History classes because the movie captures the mood of the nation in the early 1980s. Fear of nuclear war was rampant -- so much so that there was a nuclear freeze / unilateral disarmament movement gaining ground. The plot is fiction, but the film is useful because it is a genuine product of the fears in play at that time. It also depicts the beginnings of the computer-based technological culture that we live in today and weaves in 1980s cultural strands about computer hacking and video gaming, both trends which have continued to this day. War Games Worksheets works well in any Cold War unit!

Singing Along to the Cold War!

Making Class Time Pay: Putting Students in Charge of Review Time

 

Whether it’s Whether it's homework review, chapter review, or test review, I've recently started trying a new approach: student leadership as we go through the material. I've found it has some significant advantages over the way I was doing things before, letting me function much more as the guide on the side instead of the sage on the stage! Read on to see how I put students in charge and the various benefits it has brought to my sanity, my students and their learning!homework review, chapter review, or test review, I’ve recently started trying a new approach: student leadership as we go through the material.

I’ve found it has some significant advantages over the way I was doing things before, letting me function much more as the “guide on the side”  instead of the “sage on the stage,” so I thought I’d share my new approach and let you know how it has made my classroom a more engaging and informative place for students!

I welcome your own ideas on how you’ve improved the process of going through a workbook type review page!

Tried and True and Traditional – What I Used to Do:

My usual approach until a few months ago was fairly predictable. Students would get out their written work and I would call on students to read each problem and provide their response. I’d announce whether their answer was right or wrong and then we’d move on to the next problem. Sometimes before announcing the correct answer, I’d poll the class or encourage a discussion of possible responses.

I imagine that most teachers have done a lot of review approximately like the above. Of course, I had a lot of other approaches in my teacher toolkit as well. Sometimes we’d have games to review material; sometimes students would construct their own learning and share it with the class by writing and performing skits or even by making animated movies we’d all watch together. I’ve always had an eye on making learning as engaging as possible. But still, when we’d done a workbook page to review material and it was time to let students correct their own work, I usually led the class through the content as described above.

Not terribly engaging, I know. But then I found a much better way, and all I had to change was one simple thing!

New and Improved – Students Run the Show!

What I do now isn’t a hugely different from before, but the small changes I’ve implemented have made a world of difference. Students pay better attention and have a lot more “buy in”  to the review activity. Plus, they find it more engaging. The ironic part is that my role as teacher has actually become easier with my new method, even as I’ve found that in the new dynamic, my time and attention is freed up in a way that lets me be a lot more effective, too!

So what do I do? On with the show!

How I Implement Student Leadership

I use this technique when students have already had ample homework or class time to complete a set of questions or problems. The idea is that they will be reporting back their previously generated responses, not thinking on the fly.

  • Appoint a student to be the leader for the first set of responses. For example, if the worksheet is divided into some true/false followed by some cloze and then some multiple choice, I would direct say, “Alejandro, you’re going to lead us through the true/false section.” If the worksheet lacks convenient divisions, you might need to go with, “Alejandro, you’ll be the leader for #1-8.”
  • Being the student leader means that Alejandro will take charge of calling on classmates to read problems and provide their responses.
  • However — and here’s the twist — after each student has given a response, as leader Alejandro must provide his own answer as well. For example:
    • “I also thought that the correct answer was true.”
    • “I disagree. I think that Stalin was the Russian leader responsible for the Great Purge.”
  • As the teacher, I follow along and participate after each pair of answers has been supplied:
    • If the chosen student and the leader both supply the correct answer, I might simply confirm that they are right.
    • If the chosen student and the leader both supply  the wrong answer, I might poll the class before announcing the correct answer.
    • Sometimes I poll the class even when the chosen student and leader are both right, just to mix it up.
    • If the chosen student and the leader disagree as to the answer, I might ask each to provide a rationale for their response. This can trigger a class discussion about the validity of the rationales presented, with most students participating before I debrief the correct answer with them.
    • Sometimes I ask for rationales even when both students agree on the answer. It depends on the material and the complexity of thinking involved.
  • When Alejandro’s “turn”  is over, I will have him choose the next student leader.
  • When the whole review has been completed, I’ll jot down who the last leader was. Then, next time we do a review in this manner, I’ll say, “Clarissa, you were our last student leader. Who would you like to appoint as leader this time?”

What’s the Point???

I know that the changes in procedure that I described above are really very minor. For all that, though, I’ve found them to provide profound benefits in the classroom.

  • Less multi-tasking for the teacher!
    When I teach, I’m very focused on the content and how well the students are mastering it. I’d get deep into a discussion, for example, of how a change in a market would shift supply and demand, and I’d find it difficult to also keep track of the fact that we just did #6 and now I have to call on someone to answer #7. Just as much, I’d have a hard time remembering for sure who I had called on so far. With my new approach, students are responsible for keeping track of where we are and who to call on next. This small change has let me focus better on clearly communicating content when it’s my turn to speak up.
  •  A better “global” vision for the teacher
    Because I’m not being distracted by keeping track of minor details any longer, I have more time to roam the classroom during the review. This typically lets me look over several students’ work for each problem, giving me a better global vision of how my students are doing on each problem. This, of course, informs my instruction and tells me when I should devote more time to polling the class about an answer, asking for rationales, or eliciting discussion.
  • The All-Important Perception of Fairness
    Since students are now calling on one another and picking the next leader, I’m freed from students resenting *me* over how I call on them too much or not enough. Students who don’t want to share their answers out loud seem to handle it better when it’s a classmate picking them, than when it was the teacher “picking on them,”  if you see what I mean. And since student leadership changes on a frequent basis, I haven’t run into problems with other students complaining about one, either.
  • Discussions Happen More Organically, Now
    It’s a lot more obvious to everyone now when we should stop and think a question over, since the two-students-answering system will immediately highlight at least some of the problem areas in the review. Also, since the students are getting used to hearing more than one answer for each question, they have become more willing to speak up on their own and announce that they disagree, which also triggers discussions. They used to be more shy about going out on that limb, but now, each student leader has to repeatedly go out on a limb by expressing agreement or dispute with each announced answer. I can see the students’ comfort zones expanding as they come to understand that it’s not the end of the world to be wrong and have to revise your thinking.
  • More Alternative Points of View are Heard
    This is particularly useful in my main discipline of social studies, where good teaching means that we spend quite a bit of time on evaluating history. What was the most important factor that led to the development of the Cold War? Students can have widely differing, but equally valid, answers to questions like that. As long as their rationales are based on accurate facts and sound historical reasoning, I want to spend class time letting students consider alternatives. This is part of being the “guide on the side,”  helping them learn, instead of telling them what to think or accidentally conveying the idea that there’s only one way to view the history we’re studying.

So There You Have It!

Like I said, this change in reviewing procedures isn’t a huge one. It’s actually pretty minor, but I’ve found it to have huge pay-offs! It’s kind of like the old story: For want of a nail, a horseshoe was lost, and then an entire battle…. except in reverse. This nail is one more tool you can have at your fingertips when working with your students, and if your classroom is anything is like mine, you’ll find it a powerful improvement to all the great things you’re already doing with your students.

Speaking of those things, I’d love to hear about them! How do you proceed through a review page of a textbook or workbook?

Speaking of worksheets to review…

If you use any of the Crash Course social studies courses on YouTube (I highly recommend them!), you might want to take a look at some of the Crash Course Worksheets I’ve put together. These help students pay better attention and learn more, even as they hold students accountable for staying on task during these short videos!

Crash Course Worksheets for Economics, Government, and World History

 

Making Class Time Pay: Putting Students in Charge of Review Time

Quick and Easy Great Depression Simulation

Quick and Easy Great Depression Simulation: Help students experience the impact of the Crash of 1929 and discover how it affected ordinary Americans -- and why the troubles in the economy cascaded so fast! All you need is 10 minutes of class time and some index cards or Post-it notes!I used to struggle to make the Great Depression experience more real for my students; I was looking for a way to help my classes understand how the Crash of 1929 caused a cascading series of devastating problems for Americans of the time. All I really knew was that I wanted a lesson that would really hit home.

And then it hit me — I needed to put the students through a simulation that would show them, step by step, just how events unfolded and how they impacted ordinary Americans.

I didn’t have a lot of class time to devote to this, however. If I’m lucky, we have only two days to explore the Wall Street Crash, and I usually use one of them to show the excellent “Crash of 1929” episode from the PBS series American Experience. The other day has us reading and discussing the textbook’s presentation of the same information, comparing and contrasting what we learned from each source, and looking for bias.

This doesn’t leave a lot of time for simulations, but then I hit on a way to bring the point home in only about 10 minutes.

PREPPING FOR THE SIMULATION — Less than a minute

Make sure you have index cards, Post-it notes, or some other way for students to record data on separate slips. That’s it!

(Optional: If you want students to use monetary values suitable for the 1920s, you may need some data on hand to help them. The average net income in 1925, for example, was about $5,000. You can get a lot more information from IRS publications, such as Statistics of Income, 1925.)

SETTING UP WITH THE CLASS — Should only take 2-3 minutes

Pass out — index cards or Post-it notes to each student. Tell students that they are living in the 1920s and they are going to set up their lifestyles on their cards. Students will “invent” a life to explore this way.

  1. First card: Tell students to write down where they work. Insist that each student either writes down a profession/place of employment or indicates that their spouse supports them (a common scenario for married women in the 1920s)
  2. Second card: Tell students to record how much money they have saved up in the bank — their life savings. Students may ask if they should use values appropriate for today or ones that reflect salaries in the 1920s. This is your call, but I usually encourage them to use values appropriate for today. This is because I want the exercise to hit home — Later on in the simulation, I want the students to feel that they have really lost a lifetime’s worth of savings.
  3. Third card: Tell students that they saw stocks rising earlier in the decade and thought about investing. Tell them to write down how much they have invested in the stock market. If some students want to insist that they stayed away from stocks, that’s fine. Collect their cards back since they don’t have any stocks.
  4. Fourth card: Tell students to write down if they rent an apartment or live in a house they are buying. For the simulation, all house buyers will have outstanding mortgages.

STEP by STEP TEACHING PROCEDURE — Should only take 5-7 minutes, depending on how much explanation and discussion you work in. 

  • Once the card setup is done, choose one student to be the stockbroker and one to be the banker. Have students turn in all their stock cards to the stockbroker and give their lifetime savings cards to the custody of the banker.
  • Announce that the stock market has crashed and everybody had to sell their stocks for less than they paid for them; any funds from the sale went to pay off the loans they took out to buy the stock, so their money is gone.
  • At this point, have the stockbroker tear up the stock cards and toss them in the trash. For more impact, have him announce all the losses as he goes.
  • Tell students that while they have lost their stock investments, at least they still have money in the bank. Then get dramatic:  “Except…. I don’t quite know how to tell you this… but when you thought your money was safe, sitting in the vault, guess what your bank was actually doing with it?”  Usually, a few students will realize the truth, which you can them confirm and announce:  “Yes, that’s right… your life savings was put on the stock market by your bank. Without your permission. Probably without your knowledge. Anyway, all the money is gone.”
  • Have the banker tear up the bank deposit cards and toss them, perhaps announcing all the losses as before. This is a good point to talk about “moral hazard.” Banks that bet investors’ money would keep any profit they made, but did NOT take on any real risk since they were not betting their own money.
  • Talk about how with all these losses, people are really worried about money. They stop spending. Explore how this makes demand for items plunge. Start asking students what they have written on their employment cards. If a job is announced, say that nobody’s buying that item or service any longer and announce that the student is laid off. If a student is supported by a spouse, announce that the spouse has been laid off. Point out that each time a person is laid off, it only makes the “not enough demand” problem worse and causes more lay-offs.
  • Each time you announce a lay-off, either collect the student’s employment card, or have the student rip it up. OR, wait until the end of the previous bullet point and have all the students throw away their cards at once.
  • Review with students that they now have no investments, no savings, and no job. Time to deal with housing! Have the renters stand up. Ask them how they plan to pay their rent now that they are unemployed and no jobs are available. Announce that they are homeless. Send them to stand along a wall, pointing out that they have to leave their apartments (their desks, LOL). Have the former renters throw away their housing cards on the way.
  • Say, “But the rest of you are luckier — you are buying houses, so you don’t have to pay rent.” Go on to talk about mortgages, monthly payments on the loan, and foreclosure. Tell the remaining students that things will take longer for them, but within a few months, they will also be homeless when they can’t pay their loans and the banks have them evicted. Send the remaining students to stand with the others. Have the former house buyers throw away their housing cards on the way.
  • Briefly explore how now, everybody is homeless and unemployed, with no resources such as savings. Since nobody is spending, why would any companies start hiring people to provide goods or services? For the time being, it looks like the Great Depression is well underway with no possible end in sight!

Students usually enjoy the activity, and it does open their eyes about key issues — such as how the decisions banks make can have widespread effects on the economy.

ADDITIONAL TEACHING NOTES:

  • Obviously, this simulation is vastly over-simplified. It puts 100% of the students into the category of unemployed and homeless, which exaggerates the true impact of the Depression. I’m okay with that, though, because the point is to show them how the economic sequence often unfolded for people, and to help them empathize with the helplessness of the individual in the face of these economic forces. I want every student to have that experience.
  • The step-by-step teaching procedure can last longer than the 5-7 minutes suggested if you beef it up with “teachable moments” along the way.
    • For example, when everybody loses their life savings, that’s a great time to talk about the FDIC, soon to be enacted in the New Deal, and how it’s still around today to protect our bank deposits.
    • You could also work in a bank run by having the banker announce that he’s only got a certain amount of money to hand out to those who need it, and it’s first  come, first served. Have students line up for their money and see how fast they are forced to go home empty-handed.
    • Really, with this simulation the sky is the limit. I’m sure it could take a class period if you wanted to work in additional events and discussion of their impact.Play Money: Free Download teachers can use to help with games and simulations in class!
  • This would take more prep, but handing out actual cash in the form of Monopoly money could make the simulation feel even more real. Best place to get
    a bunch of money from Monopoly or other commerce games? Thrift stores! You can often pick up entire game sets for just a buck because they’re missing pieces, but if all you need is the money, it’s a perfect match.
  • Another way to go with the “cash basis” variant of the game is to print out sheets of faux money and cut the bills apart, though again, this is a little more prep for the teacher. Here is one possibility you can try if you’re looking fr a free download of play money sheets.

Having fun yet?

In my classroom, I’ve found this simulation to be really quick intro that gets the students’ attention and orients them to the big ideas they’ll be studying as we begin our unit on the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression. You might also like these easy-to-correct Crash of 1929 worksheets that go with the video I use each year: American Experience: The Crash of 1929. The video is available for free online on streaming sites — just do a Google search to find where it might be loaded right  now.

NO PREP Worksheets to go along with American Experience: The Crash of 1929. Easy to correct multiple choice format, both consumable and reusable formats included. These Crash of 1929 Worksheets come with a fast correct answer key as well as an annotated one.

 

 

 

 

Quick and Easy Great Depression Simulation