Historical Scene Investigations

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How does the Executive Branch contribute to the governing of our country?

The Case

In response to the oppressive rule of King George III, the Framers of the United States Constitution worked very hard to make sure there was no longer a head of state with unlimited power.  Their document, the Constitution, lives on as the framework for our government today.  The Framers carefully crafted a government comprised of three distinct branches, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial.  Each branch has its own responsibilities to the people without making one more powerful than the other.

One third of this delicate balance of power is the Executive Branch.  How did the Framers limit the powers of the Executive  Branch?  How does the Executive Branch check and balance the other two branches?  What are the functions of the Executive branch?  Who makes up the Executive Branch?  What is the President’s job? How is the President elected? Who becomes President?  What qualities or qualifications must a President have?  What makes a Presidential candidate successful or effective?

Your job is to investigate the workings of the Executive Branch of the United States Government, especially focusing on these two questions: What is the role of the Executive Branch and how does one become a member of the Executive Branch?

Becoming a Detective:

Activating prior knowledge:

In small groups, write down everything your group knows about the Executive Branch.  Your teacher will turn this into a wordle.

Lesson 1:

Review note taking skills using We the People, “How does the Constitution limit the powers of our government?” lesson 12.  Note taking will be done as a whole class lesson.

Play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to demonstrate how no one branch has more power than any of the others.

Lesson 2:

You will read the first 6 paragraphs of “What is the Executive Branch?” in lesson 14.  (Purpose of the lesson and How did the Framers create the Executive Branch?)  Take notes.

Now read We the People, “The Powers and Duties of the President,” lesson 14.  Make your own chart outlining the powers and duties of the President.  Discuss and decide as a class what the duties/powers are, creating a large class poster as your product.

Take your group’s copy of Article 2 (sections 2 and 3) of the Constitution.  Read Article 2  (sections 2 and 3) of the United States Constitution in a small group. Find and cut out the evidence from the document supporting the duties and powers previously listed on the chart.

Read Kids Discover: How America Works, “The President” page 6.  Talk with your group about who makes up the Executive Branch.  

Would you want to be President?  Using evidence from what you have read or discussed, write a paragraph describing whether or not you would like to have the job as President.

Lesson 3:

Go back to Article 2, section 1 for official qualifications.  Take notes and discuss as a class.  
Examine persuasive advertising techniques (Pathos, Ethos, Logos):
http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/video/persuasive-techniques-advertising-1166.html

Look at campaign posters (use online and in poster format), fill out analysis worksheet, and discuss:
Dewey
FDR
Lincoln
Lincoln2
McKinley
JFK
Lincoln3
Cleveland
McKinley2
Grant
Harrison

Create your own poster with or without a slogan.   The class will identify the type of persuasive technique used in each poster.  Students will check off their choice on sheet.

Lesson 4:

Look at campaign commercials, fill out analysis worksheet (Pathos, Ethos, Logos), and discuss:

JFK 1960 1min
Reagan  1980 1:01
Bush 2004 1:01
anti Dukakis 1988 0:30
Carter, anti Reagan 1980 0:31
Eisenhower 1952 1:02
Clinton 1992 2:33
Perot 1992 0:30

Lesson 5:

Think about all of the presidents  you have read about, seen ads for, and with which you are familiar.  Create a list of your top ten qualifications you would like to see in a presidential candidate.  Then, share your list with your small group.  In your small groups, create a collective list of your top ten priorities.  Then, using the cards from Simulation #3: “Elect a President,” peruse the six candidates’ resumes and decide which candidate you feel is best qualified for the job and which candidate is least qualified for the job.   Be sure to discuss why you feel this way and be prepared to defend your decision to the class.

As a class, each group will share their best and least qualified individual and their reason for why, posting the resume cards on the board on a T-Chart of best and least qualified.  After each group has presented, your class will vote for their top choice.

Then, you will read the six profiles for the same individuals whose resumes you read.  With this new information, discuss with your small group whether you still agree with your choices for best and least qualified individuals.  Share this information as a whole class and then vote, again, for your top choice for president.  

Once all votes are cast, the teacher will reveal the names of the candidates.  Discuss if there are surprises.

How that you have seen posters, commercials, resumes, and profiles, what qualifications are necessary that are NOT officially listed in the Constitution?  Discuss and list.
Fill out unofficial qualifications worksheet and discuss: (http://www.gilderlehrman.org/sites/default/files/inline-pdfs/Unofficial%20Requirements.pdf)

Lesson 6:

Read “How is the president selected?” within Lesson 14 of We the People and take notes.  Then, read article (http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/should-electoral-college-be-abolished
) and take notes on the Electoral College.

Read page 3 of the article http://www.hinckley.utah.edu/events/seminar/Teri%20King.pdf.  

Watch the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXc-mwhDTFw&feature=related).  Using note-taking skills and knowledge of persuasive techniques learned earlier in the unit, write a persuasive paragraph, describing whether or not we should continue to have the Electoral College.  Be sure to give at least three reasons from your readings for your opinion.

Post investigation activity:

In small groups, write down everything your group knows about the Executive Branch.  Your teacher will turn this into a wordle.  Compare this with your group’s initial wordle.

 

Investigating the Evidence:  

Examine the sources you have been given by your teacher, looking for evidence of how the Executive Branch helps govern our country.

Searching for Clues:  

For each poster, think about the following questions:

What type of document is it?
Who authored the document?
When was it created?
Who is the audience for the poster?
Why was it created?
What persuasive method or methods is the author using?

Next, complete the Campaign Poster worksheet.
For each television commercial, think about the following questions:

Who authored the commercial?
When was it created?
Who is the audience for the commercial?
Why was it created?
What persuasive method or methods is the author using?

Next, complete the Campaign Commercial worksheet.

Cracking the Case:  

Using the poster paper given, use graphics, pictures, and words  to answer the question:  How does the Executive Branch help govern our country?  Use the Poster rubric to guide your thinking.

To Learn More: 

Sources for Students:
http://www.congressforkids.net/Constitution_threebranches.htm

Kids Discover: How America Works issn: 1054-2868
http://www.jud.ct.gov/Publications/es236.pdf
http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/government/branches.html

The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation by Jonathan Hennessey page 53-64 for Article II

The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation by Jonathan Hennessey page 55-top of 59 for Electoral College section

Critical Thinking Question(s):

How have the powers of the Executive Branches changed since the Framers have wrote the Constitution?
What could influence the balance of power?
Election Wall:  Have students collect mailed ads, write descriptions of commercials, take photographs of lawn signs and/or bumper stickers, etc.  Label with type of persuasive technique used.  Post on wall for class to see/discuss.

Sources for Teachers:

http://www.wordle.net/create

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/teachers/lessonplans/socialstudies/Vote2004/electoral_college_key.pdf  (electoral college)

http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/teach.html (electoral college)

http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/research-building-blocks-notes-148.html   (note taking skills)

http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=45616 (note taking skills)

https://docs.google.com/a/whps.org/document/d/1LSsheV9Mr89-l0__Aoxk9G5A3NWDo7y56vP_Tl1GyMw/edit?pli=1  (The Powers and Duties of the President)http://www.hinckley.utah.edu/events/seminar/Teri%20King.pdf (electoral college pdf lesson)

The Evidence:

In this section list and provide the links to sources you wish the students to investigate.

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/should-electoral-college-be-abolished (electoral college)

http://geekpolitics.com/10-pros-cons-and-ideas-for-the-electoral-college/ (electoral college pros and cons)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXc-mwhDTFw&feature=related (electoral college)

http://www.gallopade.com/client/electionsForKids/ElectoralCollege.html (electoral college facts)

The Case File:

Enlarged copies of Article 2 of the Constitution (one for each small group to cut up)

We the People
Constitution & New Government Teacher Created Materials binder - Simulation #3: p. C46-C48, C51-C60, D5-D11    ISBN: 978-1-57690-688-0

Kids Discover: How America Works issn: 1054-2868

 

 

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