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Old 03-10-2007, 10:37 AM   #1
Russell Williams
 
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Location: Hagerstown Maryland
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Post Teachers- a lesson plan for a party

There has been concern that having class parties is a waste of good potential teaching time. I developed a technique of having class parties and at the same time using them as a tool to teach about the structure and function of the United States government
Goal of series of mini lessons: To teach the structure of the American government, to give students practice in participating in a model of the national government and to help students learn effective administrative practices.
Student motivational technique: Upon successful completion of this set of mini lessons the students will have food and experience fun.
Materials needed: Those items usually found a classroom party.
Procedure:
Tell the students that they will be having a class party. It could be the Halloween party, the Christmas party, or the Valentine’s Day party. Explain to them that they will be learning how the government works as they prepare for this party.
Explain or remind the class of the functions of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government. Explain that the class is the legislative body, the class will be electing a legislative branch, the teacher represents the judicial branch and the school policy handbook represents the Constitution.
First a class president is chosen. I allowed self nomination. I would then explain that as part of running for office in a democracy people must be prepared to lose. I would then ask each of the nominees if they realized that they would probably not be elected president and, if they felt that they could not handle losing they could have their name removed from the list of nominees.
In order to simplify administration of the election I would allow people to vote as many times as they wished. The students would cover their faces by putting their heads down on the desks. Once I had determine who the top three or four vote getters were I would tell those people that part of their homework was to prepare their campaign speeches for the next day. That would be the end of this lesson for day one.
The next day the remaining candidates would give their campaign speeches. This time the vote would be done by secret ballot. Once the president was chosen the president would choose a Vice President. I would then explain the functions of the Cabinet and have the president choose cabinet members.
The departments in the president’s cabinet were:
The Department of labor – responsible for cleaning up the room at the end of the party
The Department of Agriculture –responsible for providing food for the party
The Department of the Interior – responsible for choosing decorations for the party
The Department of Health and Human Services – responsible for selecting and running games for the party
I would then explain that the first cabinet member to be chosen would be the head of the Department of labor. The head of the Department of labor and the three members of their department would be the ones responsible for cleaning up the room. Each of the four students in the department of labor would be responsible for one quarter of the room. It was to be understood that no matter who made the mess if it was in their quarter of the room they were responsible for cleaning it up. No one would be forced to volunteer but unless they were four volunteer members of the department of labor there would be no party.
Before any other cabinet members were chosen I would explain that in order to be a cabinet member you must have a phone in your house and parental permission to use the phone to carry out your responsibilities. Once the rest of the cabinet had been chosen I would tell them to use non-classroom time to come up with proposals to present to the legislative body so the legislative body could decide which of their proposals were preferred. I would explain that I, as the head of the judicial branch of the government would make sure that any choices were allowed by the Constitution. That would end the mini lesson for that day.
The next lesson would be proposals for consideration by the legislative body. I would explain that in a democracy almost half the time you’re on the losing side of votes. I would explain that those committed to a democracy understood this and did not get mad at those who voted differently. Once the legislative body had made a determination about the food, decorations, and games for the party I would then explain to the president the role of an administrator. I would explain that it was not the president’s job to make sure that all of the necessary items would come to class at the appropriate time. It was the president’s job to make sure that the Cabinet members were making sure that all of the necessary items came to the class at the appropriate time. The president’s job would be to call up the various Cabinet members and make sure that things were progressing. It was not the president’s job to call up the actual people who are supposed to provide materials. I would explain that this was called delegation of authority and was a crucial administrative tool.
With luck, the afternoon of the party everything came together and without a lot of intervention on my part the party was held and the room was cleaned up.
Since, at the time I did this, they were usually three parties a year, by the time the third party came around the class seemed to be able to function within this framework with better understanding and competence. I did not do testing is to compare my students knowledge of the structure and function of the federal government with the amount of knowledge in classes of the same age that were taught by other teachers.
Yours truly,
Russell Williams
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