“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).

2 Replies to ““Envisioning a not-so-imaginary government” Mini Lesson”

  1. This sounds like an awesome lesson, Renee! I know i always get confused between the Federalists and Anti-Federalist, but by creating groups of each and having them debate about issues of the time. This makes it more real for the students because they have to think about how they will argue instead of just copying down notes and not getting to interact as much with the history. This sounds really fun! I hope you’re able to use it in your classroom!

  2. Hey Renee,
    Cool idea, I like your plan to keep the lesson “student-led”, and its nice that you are letting them choose which side they want; it should lead to more engagement with the students during the debate. I do have a few questions. Will you as the teacher have a certain role in moderating the debate? I know my students can get a bit out of hand when they debate. Also, is their key vocabulary you plan to introduce to the students at the beginning of the lesson? You explained that this is an introductory lesson to the unit, and I know that a lot my students get confused when I throw a lot of government terms at them. Anyways, I’m excited to try the lesson out, and I wonder what side I’ll pick for the debate!

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