AP Gov Argument Essay Prompt: Should the government play an active role in the censorship of social media?

Should the government play an active role in the censorship of social media? 

Once tensions subside enough to have a reasoned discussion, there’s an opportunity to take on the issue of media censorship. Individual companies like Twitter are taking immediate action to censor speech. Those companies are not obligated to protect 1st Amendment freedoms in the same way government must when it passes laws. Undoubtedly, there will be growing calls for the government to take a more active, regulatory role instead of relying on these private companies to do it on a case-by-case basis.

Check out this argument essay prompt:

Following the models I’ve seen from the College Board, I tried to write this prompt in a way that doesn’t lean one way or the other but simply puts the issue out there. Feel free to edit as you wish given the unique sensibilities of your students. I think this prompt could be a really good way for the kids to explore important government terms and concepts in the context of the three founding documents featured in the prompt (Federalist #10, #51 and the Constitution):

The First Amendment (Constitution)

The danger of factions (Federalist #10)

Representative democracy versus direct democracy (Federalist #10)

Checks and balances (Federalist #51)

Congressional oversight (Constitution)

If you’re looking for more AP argument essay samples, there are more than a dozen HERE


Other posts you may like:

“Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde

“The Supreme Art of War is to Subdue the Enemy without Fighting.” Sun Tzu

“Right makes Might.” Abraham Lincoln

The Big Idea: School is often the first place where students occupy positions of authority where they are able to direct the efforts of others. Being a good leader and having influence are highly valued. The challenge is figuring out the best way to do it. Some think it’s all about having power and expecting others to obey it. Others lead by moral example. Leadership lessons cultivated at young ages carry into adulthood and form the basis for how to treat other people.

Claim: According to former president Abraham Lincoln, doing the right thing gives you the greatest influence over others. Dominating others to get what you want doesn’t have lasting impact.

Counterclaim: Power over others dictates what’s right. Being morally good doesn’t have lasting impact.

Essential Question: Is doing the right thing the best way to influence others?

Make a COPY of this Google form student assignment

Here’s the plan…

  1. Have students fill out the Google form assignment above to organize their thinking before the conversation. Edit the form as you wish and email it or post it for your students. (If you aren’t logged into a Gmail account, you might have to request access to the form)
  2. Review the Google spreadsheet of student responses that is automatically created. As you’re having the conversation, use the students’ prepared remarks as prompts to draw out their personal experiences.
  3. Evaluate by having them answer the essential question after the conversation.

Integration Idea: The Black Lives Matter Movement has emerged as a force for political change and fueled a national debate not only over racism and police brutality, but also about the best way to protest injustice.  The Abraham Lincoln conversation on leadership would give students a chance to grapple with whether persuasion through law and order or persuasion through argument and civil disobedience is the more effective way to lead society through hard times.


This resource on Abraham Lincoln comes from Teach Different where you can learn about a 3-Step method for making these conversations a routine.

Other posts you may like which use the same conversation method:

“Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde

“The Supreme Art of War is to Subdue the Enemy without Fighting.” Sun Tzu

“The only thing I know is that I know nothing.” Socrates

Pre-writing activity for AP gov Argument Essay FRQ: Executive Orders

Here’s an idea for how to combine a good classroom conversation with the writing of an argumentative essay FRQ on executive orders.

(The conversation method and example shown here come from Teach Different.)

Procedure:

  1. Tell students to submit answers to this Google form 2-3 days before the conversation. On the form students analyze a quote from John Adams: Power can never be trusted without a check. They write the claim Adams is making and then explore the counterclaim to the quote by referencing their personal experiences and how these experiences affirm or contradict what Adams is saying. They then answer an essential question which provokes them to take a stand: Should we trust people with power? This activity fills their heads with ideas to talk about.
  2. Review the Google spreadsheet of student responses.
  3. Have the conversation (any format works- online, hybrid, face-to-face). Students can talk about any part they want (claim, counterclaim or EQ). Your role is to guide and push the conversation along. I like to highlight interesting remarks right on the spreadsheet so I can bring them up if the conversation stalls. It could last anywhere from 15 minutes to an entire period. Totally flexible.

4. Hand out the argumentative essay FRQ on Executive Orders


By having this conversation before the writing activity, you are getting the students to think about power as it relates to their own personal experiences and you are giving them valuable skill practice making claims and counterclaims. This positions them for success when they write about power in the context of executive orders and checks and balances.

Do you use any other pre-writing activities with this FRQ?


Other posts you may like:

Sample prompts for the argument essay FRQ

AP Government Test Prep in the Age of Coronavirus

A parent listened in to my AP government Zoom session and here’s what happened…

Well, this was strange. I’m teaching my AP government class through Zoom and we’re discussing bias in the news. Near the end of the session students start asking about what news sources they should explore.

Then I get an email from a student who writes, “My mom is listening in to our session as we are talking about news bias. She sent me this image from her phone.”

This has never happened before– without even me knowing it, a parent sits in my class, listens in on the lesson and then actively participates by sending a resource over her phone to her child who then sends it to me.

So this adds quite a dimension to remote learning!

I shared the image with the rest of the class and students were very appreciative. The concept of having parents involved in class this way is pretty exciting. But, then, the very same thought produces a sense of terror. Does this mean that everything I say might be monitored by parents? What if I say something that is misinterpreted? What if a parent wants me to share something that I know is untrue or inappropriate?

At this point, I’m not sure just what to think about this. One thing is for sure– the fact that what we are teaching is being broadcast into people’s living rooms creates a fresh pile of energizing challenges for our profession.

Has anybody else had a similar experience? Reply and share what happened.


Other posts you may like…

Make meaningful conversations a ROUTINE in remote learning

“Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde

Sample prompts for the AP government argument essay

Make meaningful SEL conversations a ROUTINE during remote learning

“Never do anything against conscience, even if the state demands it.”

I’m trying out a routine this fall called “Conversation Monday“. It’s my attempt to get students thinking and talking about things that matter in life, above and beyond the curriculum. It’s what we all need. This idea is inspired by SEL curriculum I helped develop for Teach Different.

Starting with a famous quote like this one from Einstein, students have a conversation about the claim and counterclaim to the quote by referencing their personal experiences and how these experiences affirm or contradict what Einstein is saying. They also answer an essential question which provokes them to take a stand.

That’s it. It’s the marriage of curiosity, critical thinking and the expression of social-emotional intelligence— all fueled by students’ shared personal experiences. This is true SEL learning.

Here’s the routine

  1. Have students fill out this Google form to organize their thinking before the conversation. Edit the form as you wish and email it or post it for your students. (If you aren’t logged into a Gmail account, you might have to request access to the form)
  2. Review the Google spreadsheet of student responses that is automatically created. As you’re having the conversation, use the students’ prepared remarks as prompts to draw out their personal experiences.
  3. Evaluate using this rubric. (You could also have them answer the essential question after the conversation.)

If you try this, tell me how it goes and share sample student responses!

If you want more of these conversations, email me at dmfsocrates@gmail.com and I’ll send you other ones to keep the momentum.

Good luck!


Other posts you may like:

Socrates: “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.”

Essential questions and the power of storytelling

Do we have to suffer to be successful?

Students might be asking themselves this very question as the pandemic has upended many of their life goals. Here’s a conversation that can give them an opportunity to express themselves.

“There is no success without hardship.” Sophocles

The Big Idea: Going through hard times is something most everybody has to do. Some people face hardship and turn away. They become discouraged and think that success is unattainable. Others see hardship as an opportunity for self-motivation, goal-setting and a fresh re-evaluation of values. Students must determine whether to see hardship as a barrier or an opportunity, and accept the consequences underlying the choices they make.

Claim: Here Greek playwright Sophocles is saying that a person must go through hard times to be successful. Success doesn’t come easy.

Counterclaim: But sometimes success comes easy. You don’t need to go through hardship. You just need to be at the right place at the right time.

Essential Question: Do we have to suffer to be successful?

COPY this assignment, send to students and start the conversation!

Integration Idea: I want to help the students find some sort of positive meaning from the Coronavirus crisis. The conversation with Sophocles on hardship would be a great tool to encourage self-reflection on the fact that sometimes a person has to go through difficult times to achieve success. I could use the essential question, “Do we have to suffer to be successful?”, as an exit slip after the conversation. We could refer back to their responses at different times to consider the role suffering plays in our quest for success.


This resource comes from Teach Different, where you can learn this conversation method.

Other posts you may like:

AP Government test prep in the Age of Coronavirus

“The Supreme Art of War is to Subdue the Enemy without Fighting.” Sun Tzu

“Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde

“The only thing I know is that I know nothing.” Socrates

The Big Idea: All students have run across “know-it-alls”. They might be one themselves. They walk into a room and express supreme confidence with their knowledge. Being humble is seen as a sign of weakness. Then there are those timid students who wait patiently, ask questions and only speak when they are certain of something. Confidence and humility are noble traits. The life-long challenge is striking the right balance between the two.

Claim: According to famous Greek philosopher Socrates, you should question what you think you know. It’s important to be humble and admit that you don’t have the answers.

Counterclaim: You should have confidence in what you know. Certainty is important.

Essential Question: Should we question what we are sure of?

COPY assignment, send to students and start the conversation!

Integration Idea: I see this essential question and conversation as a great way to begin or end a school year. At the beginning it would establish an importance to the value of being humble with what you know and being open to questioning. It would also give you a good insight into the types of students in your class who are more inquisitive versus the ones who demand certainty. At the end of the year, it would inspire the students to reflect upon the importance of questioning and what they learned. You could ask the students to write about examples in the curriculum where there were no clear answers and where it was important to keep questioning what was being learned.


This resource on Socrates comes from Teach Different where you can learn about a 3-Step method for making these conversations a routine.

Other posts you may like which use this conversation method:

“Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde

“The Supreme Art of War is to Subdue the Enemy without Fighting.” Sun Tzu