Teacher Notes

Grade Level/Unit:

H/SS Content Standards:

8.2 Students analyze the political principles underlying the U.S. Constitution and compare the enumerated and implied powers ofthe federal government, in terms of:
 
3.the major debates that occurred during the development of the Constitution and their ultimate resolutions on areas such as shared power among institutions, divided state-federal power, slavery, the rights of individuals and states (later addressed by the addition of the Bill of Rights), and the status of American Indian nations under the commerce clause

4.the political philosophy underpinning the U.S. Constitution as specified in The Federalist (authored by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay) and the role of such leaders as James Madison, George Washington, Roger Sherman, Gouverneur Morris, and James Wilson in the writing and ratification of the Constitution

 

12.1 Students explain the fundamental principles and moral values of American democracy as expressed in the U.S. Constitutionand other essential documents of American democracy, in terms of:

4.how the Founders' realistic view of human nature led directly to a constitutional system that limited the power of the governors and the governed as articulated in The Federalist
 

Historical and Social Science Analysis Skills Grades

Historical Research, Evidence and Point of View
 
3.students evaluate major debates among historians concerning alternative interpretations of the past, including an analysis of authors'
use of evidence and the distinctions between sound generalizations and misleading oversimplifications
 
Historical Interpretation
 
3.students interpret past events and issues within the context in which an event unfolded rather than solely in terms of present day norms and values


Lesson Purpose:

After students have studied the events and political philosophies leading up to the 1787 Convention, role-played the 55 founders in a simulation of the actual convention, studied in depth the whole Constitution including the amendments, and participated in the Constitutional Competition, they are pretty tired of this unit. Consequently, I tend to give short shrift to the ratification debates and/or the Federalist and Antifederalist positions. To alleviate this, and to give a possibility for extra credit to the seven students who volunteer to role-play the debaters, I designed this lesson. It is not meant to provide an in-depth study, but it will certainly raise the awareness level towards the Federalist and Antifederalist Papers of even our most uninspired student. To those who become the debaters, a much more in-depth look will occur, but all will gain.

Goals: The students will:

Information Literacy Skills

Skimming and scanning techniques on net text as well as printed text material.

Notetaking skills, pulling out salient facts that will aid in their argument.

Organization of material into an effective oral presentation.

Debate and public speaking strategies.

Synthesizing debate information in one-pager.

Thinking metaphorically to come up with a symbol or over-arching theme.

Gaining historical empathy by demonstrating multiple perspectives.

Length of Lesson: 1-3 class periods - debate, evaluation piece & reflection

If you have blocks of time in your schedule or flexible scheduling so you can get them, then two class periods back-to-back are sufficient for the debate, discussion and the one-pager. However, you may need one additional class period (or part thereof) for their reflection and to review self, peer, and teacher evaluations.

Resources or materials needed:

Internet access for all seven of the students at once is important to cut down on the time required for research.

Background Information that might be helpful:

The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Volume I & II. Edited by Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966.

This primary source is an excellent accounting of the minutes of the convention from both the Secretary and James Madison's copious notes. I find it an interesting source for some of the students who want to know "what really happened - who really said what!"

The Federalist Papers. Edited by Clinton Rossiter. New York: New American Library, 1961.

This is a complete collection of the papers written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay to urge the ratification of the Constitution. I find that it is good to have this available in print as well as on the net. It has an excellent index.

The Essential Antifederalist. Edited by W.B.Allen and Gordon Lloyd. New York: University Press of America, Inc., 1985.

This is a collection of essays written to give college students an introduction to Antifederalist thought. I used this to give me a little better background on Antifederalist thought, as my schooling was sorely lacking in this area.

Adaptations for Special Needs:

The lesson is geared more for the auditory learner, but a strategy I use for my visual learners is to take notes on chart paper during the presentation or utilize an excellent note-taking student to do same. The small group discussions after the debates tend to clarify the arguments, and reporting to the whole group levels the playing fields between the groups, so all have an opportunity to hear the strongest arguments and use them in their one-pager. The ability to sketch or write the arguments fits into Gardner's seven intelligences, and we give lots of latitude for other forms of demonstrating understanding such as music or dance. High-achieving students often clamor for enrichment and here is a perfect opportunity!

Extension Activity:

Have students clip articles from current newspapers representing the Federalist/Antifederalist positions, demonstrating their understanding, and then have them present to class.

Lesson Sequence:

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