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.
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
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.)
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.
Review the Google spreadsheet of student responses.
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.
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?
The idea here is very raw. Read this and reply with your ideas. And if you try this out, I’d love to know what happens.
Around 10 years ago I watched my student teacher try a strategy in US history which she learned about in her methods class. She played a short video showing a wild party at a speakeasy during the 1920s. At the party were scantily dressed men and women dancing around. After two minutes or so– during which students were noticeably confused– she stopped the video to show one of the women close up. She stood in front of the projector screen and gave a simple command:
“Hi! I’m a flapper. Interview me”.
Without delay the students started firing questions at her, ranging from “What is a flapper?”, “Why are you dressed like that?”, “How are you getting away with drinking alcohol?” to “Who was invited to the party?” I remember thinking to myself– ‘what an innovative way to get students to start asking questions‘.
Yet I never tried the strategy myself…until this week.
I was in a time crunch teaching the founding period in AP government–feeling a little overwhelmed with all of the primary sources required from the College Board. I’ve already had classroom discussions on Federalist 10, 51 and 70. Students are a little burned out. I needed a quick, imaginative idea for teaching Brutus 1— the seminal work which lays out the philosophy of the Anti-Federalists.
My mind raced back 10 years to that experience with my student teacher. What if I came up with a way to use the ‘Interview Me’ technique to inspire student questions on a primary source? Why not give it a shot? It’s not a Socratic seminar but who cares? As long as the students did a close reading of the document, and developed some cogent questions, my objectives would be met. And it might actually be fun.
2. Before setting them off to read it, I said they would have a chance to interview Brutus I (played by me) with 15 minutes left in the period. He would clear up their misunderstandings.
3. With 15 minutes left I sat in front of the room and said
“Hi! I’m Brutus I. Interview me”
I fielded their questions and students took notes based on my responses. We went right to the bell. (I screwed up here. I should have allowed at least 30 minutes for the interview.)
I haven’t assessed them yet but in terms of student interest in the activity and the quality of their questions, I was pleasantly surprised. They were amused with my performance. I didn’t dress up at all. I just made sure that I assumed the character of somebody who was afraid of centralized political power, large republics and a national Congress which would abuse its authority through its power to tax. It actually wasn’t hard to pull off from my end. It ended up being like a bizarre 15 minute co-presentation with my students as assistants.
There was something about the interview format which motivated students to ask questions. It brought a different energy to the room. Because they were interviewing me, they didn’t seem embarrassed at all about their confusions. They went along with it.
I see some adaptations for next time:
1. Tell a studentto study the primary source beforehand and run the interview for the class.
2. Find two primary sources; divide the class; give one source to each section; have each section stagean interview. Maybe they could plan out questions beforehand so the interviewee knew what was coming and they made sure to cover salient points. Sounds like a mini-class project waiting to happen.
Has anybody ever tried this technique before with primary sources? If so, what did you do and were you successful?
Any ideas for improving this? The input would be great! Thanks.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi
Essential Question: Is sacrificing for others always the right thing to do?
Sometimes Big Questions don’t direct learning; they emerge from it.Lost in thought and feelings of despair over the latest tragedy in Florida, I decided to ditch my regularly scheduled government programming and opt instead to hold a congressional hearing simulation on gun control. My classroom will become the Senate Judiciary Committee considering a bill called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This bill passed the House of Representatives in the fall and is slated for debate in the Senate this spring. In a nutshell, the bill says that any person from a state which has legalized concealed carry can travel into any state which has outlawed the practice. Essentially then, should this bill become law, a person’s right to concealed carry would have to be honored by all 50 states. Students assume the roles of actual Senate Judiciary Committee members who question other students who are playing the role of interest group representatives giving testimony on their positions for and against the bill.Continue reading →