Federalist/Anti-Federalist Mini-lesson Reflection

After completing my miniature lesson that was meant to introduce potential middle school students to the topics of federalism and anti-federalism, I have a better idea of things I can do to improve my overall lesson. The purpose of my mini-lesson was to get students more involved in this part of history through participating in a debate where students unknowingly were supporting the views of federalists and anti-federalists. At the end of the lesson, each “side” of the argument was revealed and students were able to see what side of history their political views placed them on. My intention for this mini-lesson was to have students engage with viewpoints that were shared by major historical figures to introduce them on an intended following lesson on federalism and anti-federalism. This activity was mainly student-led (since they developed arguments and debated with one another with little interference from the teacher), which I preferred for this lesson because I felt the students would find more meaning in the material since they were interacting with one another during the whole process.

Largely, I feel as though my lesson was successful in the small setup we had in the classroom. For example, I was lucky enough to have each of my debate teams be of equal size with the students choosing their own side to defend. This, however, is something that is unlikely to happen in a regular classroom setting. One suggestion that I found to be very valuable in improving my lesson would be to divide the class into smaller groups to make a debate more manageable. I feel as though this method of having 4-5 smaller groups developing their arguments then debating with one another has the potential to make my lesson successful in the general education classroom by minimizing the chaos that could potentially ensue with a group of 30+ children debating one another.

Another piece of feedback that I found to be especially valuable was my classmates’ suggestions to provide a printout that summarized the arguments of the federalists and anti-federalists so students would have a resource to refer back to when developing their arguments. This made me realize that it could be inconvenient on both myself and the class if I constantly had to go back and forth on the slideshow to display a specific piece of information. Therefore, I think a printout with bullet points of each side of the argument would make it easier for students to observe the information I give to them.

Finally, after completing my lesson I can also see where the debate itself in my lesson could have been improved by giving the students specific questions that they would be debating before they delivered opening statements. This would give my students the opportunity to develop their argument further based on the questions I gave them. Also, while it did work successfully in the mini-lesson, giving students specific questions may encourage my students to speak (since they will know exactly what is being asked of them) and participate in the debate. I know with my target audience of middle schoolers, getting them to participate can sometimes be a struggle. However, providing them with the “essential questions” for the debate and having them perfect their argument in small groups with peers has the potential to make students more confident in the arguments they produce and make them more likely to share their ideas.

After going through this mini-lesson in class, I feel as though I am clear on the ways it can be improved to the level that I think I would be incorporating a similar lesson with my students when they enter their unit on government. Some of these issues I hadn’t seen through my own development and test-run, so it was extremely useful to have a test run with my classmates and receive feedback on ways I can improve in my lesson moving forward. However, I was also able to see where my lesson was already strong as well, which gave me a little more comfort in my ability to create my own lessons (which will be extremely useful moving forward in my teaching career).

“Envisioning a not-so-imaginary government” Mini Lesson

This lesson is meant to be an introduction to a unit centered around early America, specifically federalism and anti-federalism. I will start the lesson by asking the class to imagine that we as a group just settled a new country where we need to establish a government. Then, I will introduce the two possible “sides” students can take when they construct their opinions on what type of government would be most beneficial to our new country (not mentioning specifically that these “sides” reflect the views of the federalists and anti-federalists). Students will then choose sides, develop two groups based on the side they chose, and have a debate with one another on why they decided their form of government would work the best with the teacher serving as a moderator. At the end of the lesson, I will reveal which groups’ views – either federalist or anti-federalist – the students were defending.

I developed this lesson keeping in mind the students I have in my 8th grade social studies classroom. I believe this lesson has students interact with history through taking roles that reflect the sentiments of early Americans (even if they don’t know that until the end of the lesson). Since students can choose their own side to defend, they can see how their opinions may have been reflected by Americans in the late 18th century. This also gives students an opportunity to express their viewpoints and defend their stance from the opposing side, which can give students a deeper understanding of how a decision like what form of government is best for a developing country is made. This is mainly meant to be a student-led lesson (since most of the time will be dedicated to students talking in their groups and debating among one another) with minimal interference from the teacher. This puts the students in charge of their own learning rather than relying on the teacher for “the right answer.”

Keeping that in mind, the only direct resource I will be using in this lesson is a short Google Slides presentation meant to introduce the activity of developing a form of government for our “imaginary” country and describing the viewpoints of side A and side B (one representing the view of the federalists, the other the anti-federalists).

Analyzing Bias Through the Boston Massacre

This activity focuses on analyzing a depiction of the Boston Massacre and trying to identify any bias that is present. I imagine this activity taking place soon after starting a unit surrounding the Revolutionary War (including causes and effects). The engraving on this Google Form is meant to depict a scene of the Boston Massacre, however there are ways to interpret bias from this specific source (looking at things such as who is inciting the violence in the illustration). Students will observe the engraving attached to the Google Form and answer the questions that follow based on their prior knowledge and what they observe in the illustration. This should practice students’ analytical skills as they try to interpret where bias came into play in this piece of history.

Original Google Form

American Culture in the 1920s

A group of “Flapperette” girls in 1924; uploaded from inherited family photos. Source.
Notice some of the fashion choices of these women. For example, all but one of these women have chosen to wear pants rather than skirts. Do you think this was a normal clothing choice for women in the 1920s? Could their outfits be related to the social statement they are making?
Another thing that is common among these women is their choice of haircut. If you notice, all the women have very short hair. This is something that was common for the flapper style of the 1920s. What sort of message do you think these women were trying to send to the public with these short, blunt haircuts?
This is a combination of printed ads used in the May 1920 issue of National Geographic. Source. Courtesy of Don O’Brien.
Notice the tag line that the cigarette ad at the top of the page uses. What do you think is the significance of using words like “culture” and “refinement” in order to sell their product? Do you think this is a successful tactic?
Take a minute to process the illustration that accompanies the Deities cigarette ad. What is accurate about the image (if anything)? What is inaccurate? What does this sort of representation of a culture say about the social climate in America in the 1920s?
This photo captures an American couple on vacation in 1927; uploaded from inherited family photos. Source.
Notice this man behind the couple in the carriage. Judging by his position, it seems like he was tasked with pushing the couple around in the carriage. How might his opinion of the time this photo was taken differ from the couple on vacation?
Considering this photo was taken around the same time as the “Flapperettes” photo at the top of the post, how does this woman’s outfit compare to the women in the first picture? Do you think that this woman would be in favor of the Flapper social movement that was taking place during this decade?