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

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