Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Making Civics Real Workshop 8: Rights and Responsibilities of Students  
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Workshop 7

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Lesson Plan: Context

Matt Johnson is chair of the department of social studies and teaches Advanced Placement (AP) U. S. Government, AP Comparative Government, U.S. Government, Law, Economics, D.C. History, and Global Perspectives to students at Benjamin Banneker Senior High School in Washington, D.C. Students in his Law class have won the District of Columbia Mock Trial Championship for seven of the past nine years. In addition to his course load, he has served as senior class sponsor, coordinator of Congressional internships, law club sponsor, stock market club sponsor, and outdoors club sponsor as well as coached varsity softball, boys JV basketball, and varsity cross country. Prior to teaching, Matt Johnson interned at some political think tanks in Washington, D.C., and was a legislative librarian at a law firm. Matt Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ripon College in Wisconsin and a Master’s degree in political science at George Washington University in the District of Columbia.

Benjamin Banneker Senior High School is a small, college preparatory, public high school in Washington, D.C. Nearly 93 percent of its 432 students are African American (1999-2000 data); other students are Pacific Islander (3.2 percent), Hispanic (3.2 percent), or White (0.7 percent). The high school has an attendance rate of 96.4 percent and a promotion rate of 98.1 percent. In 1999, 92 percent of its senior students graduated. SAT rates in that year averaged 522 in mathematics and 553 verbal.

Constitutional Law is a two-semester, grade 12, honors option at Benjamin Banneker Senior High School, and provides an academically challenging environment. The course is co-taught by Matt Johnson and students from the American University Washington College of Law. It aims to encourage all students to become autonomous learners, effective communicators, and active citizens in our society. Students are expected to do independent research on a civil law topic, write a complete analysis of a constitutional issue, and submit a book review on a current law-related book. Students participate in mock trials and a citywide moot court competition. The course has four units: Introduction to Law and Legal Systems, Constitutional Law, Civil Law, and Criminal Law. The course text is We the Students: Supreme Court Cases For and About Students by Jamin B. Raskin, American University Washington College of Law (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2000). The textbook focuses on the constitutional rights of high school students, which are limited in relation to the rights that others have, and analyzes why they are limited.


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