Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Making Civics Real Workshop 4: Constitutional Convention  
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Workshop 4

Workshop Session
Lesson Plan
Teacher Perspectives
Student Perspectives
Essential Readings
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Teacher Perspectives: Using simulations

Matt Johnson: This activity is a simulation of a real event [that uses] a combination [of] methodologies [including] cooperative learning. It's not the only activity we would use, but it's the main one that I like to use when reviewing. I think the simulation works in this type of lesson because you're asking the kids to draw on a lot of information. It's one thing to quiz them on it, but this sort of taking and crafting something I find is the best learning process. One group, for example, is posing three houses in the legislative branch. Now they may not get that through, but they're taking some ownership in this unique idea and they'll argue it in the next lesson. They've reacted to the material. I think that's important.

It is a very positive way to get these kids to master material and it's not strict memorization. When they have to sit down and problem solve, they learn more than printing things on index cards and memorization tables. It's also a fun way to teach, to be honest. I get to know more about the kids. I get to hear their ideas and it breaks down a lot of barriers between the student and the teacher. I can have conversations with my students. If I'm strictly lecturing, I never find out about what makes them tick and how they think and react to material. The only feedback I get would be questions they'd ask or the essays they might write on a test.

My work has been put in prior to this lesson, in thinking about what I want to have the kids cover, and putting together the worksheets, the rubric, and the groups. So it's not teacher-centered. It's really students learning from each other by talking and engaging with each other.


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