U.S. Government, Civics, U.S. History
In this lesson, students examine the different ways people can participate in representative government through class discussions, group work, and investigation of primary and secondary sources. Students then create television commercials that inform viewers how to get involved in representative government. Students will identify different forms of participating in representative government and evaluate the importance of political involvement.
Put students in groups. In groups, students make a list to answer the following question-If you wanted to make a change in the school, what are different ways you or your parents could do that? After students have had ample time, discuss. (sample responses: call, write, email principal, talk to other students, have Student Council meet with principal, PTA talk to principal, etc.) Give students "Contacting your member of Congress" and women's suffrage letter. Explain that these handouts give examples of ways people can make changes through our national government. In groups, students should read two sources. Using two sources to trigger ideas, students complete "getting involved" handout: They write down different ways people can participate in representative government. For each avenue of participation, they explain the actual steps needed in order to make that an effective form of participation (e.g., write a letter to Congress-get informed about issue, know proper format of letter writing to Congressperson, find out name and address of person to send to, write the letter!).
Discuss. Have students present what they came up with (or write on board). Make sure key forms of participation are included (voting, writing letters to Congress, meeting with Congressperson, joining political organizations, becoming informed about issues, running for political office, informing other people about issues, etc.). Introduce commercial assignment: In groups (different ones, preferably), students will create a television advertisement that informs viewers about "How to get involved" in representative government. (give them ideas, ie, a woman is overheard in a drug store complaining about the high cost of prescription drugs-another customer steps in with advice for how she can make her views known and change things…OR a father comes home from work and comments to his son that "those people in Washington don't know how to run a country"-son responds, "well, dad, what have you done about it?"). Students work on commercials in groups.
Students finish working on commercials. Students present commercials to class.
"Form letter from E. Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone asking friends to send petitions for women's suffrage to their representatives in Congress" (do standard search: look up by "Form letter from E. Cady Stanton")
"Getting involved: ways you can make a difference in our government" (handout)
Hilary G. Conklin