Civics, US Government, US History
In this lesson, students create their own solution to the problem of representation at the Constitutional Convention and read primary sources to gain different perspectives on the compromise that was actually reached. The lesson concludes with students creating a cartoon depiction of the final compromise. Students will explain what the Great Compromise was and evaluate its significance; explain how the Great Compromise exists in our government today; explain why we have two houses in Congress; name the two houses of Congress and explain the system of representation each house uses; and distinguish between and explain the meaning of equal and proportional representation.
Students brainstorm in journals individually: What do you know about the Constitutional Convention and what happened there?
Discuss as a class-bring out key ideas:
(1) was meeting in 1787 to create new Constitution for country (Constitution we use today)
(2) they were creating the plan for government for our country
(3) had delegates from most states
(4) long hot summer in Philadelphia
(5) encountered many conflicts along the way because states wanted different things
Introduce to students: One of the problems the delegates at the Convention had to figure out was how to represent the states in Congress-or how many people from each state should be able to represent their states. Write on board key fact to understand---states had very different populations-some had many people, some had few. Their problem: What is a fair way to represent the states? One possible way: have the same number of representatives from each state. Another way: have more representatives from states with more people. Have students work in groups to complete "What is a fair way to represent the states in Congress?" handout and come up with new solution. Students present their solutions.
Review from previous day: --what is equal representation?--what is proportional representation?--what were your solutions to the representation problem? Introduce the two primary sources: one is a Senator's speech from 1998, the other is a letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison in 1787. These sources discuss the solution to the representation problem reached at the Constitutional Convention. Students work with a partner to read two sources and take notes/analyze in "The Great Compromise: Primary Source Perspectives" handout.
Byrd speech: paragraphs 1-6, and paragraph 10
Jefferson letter: in 2nd paragraph, sentences 1-7
Use previous day's readings and notes to discuss what students learned about Great Compromise from primary source. Fill in graphic organizer "The conflict over representation" together as class (or discuss and have students do). Introduce evaluation: students draw a cartoon (single frame or multiple frames) depicting the result of the Great Compromise. They must write a caption that explains their depiction and demonstrates their assessment of the results of the Great Compromise. (eg, "A Great Compromise and A Great Job" or "A House Divided-but it will stand" or "Two Houses that we still live in today"). Final class discussion: Ask students: Should we care about the Great Compromise? How important is this to know about?
"What is a fair way to represent the states in Congress?" (handout)
"The Great Compromise: Primary Source Perspectives" (handout)
"The Conflict over Representation" (handout)
Hilary G. Conklin