Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center
Social Studies



TITLE:  Forming A Government

TITLE:  Donald Peters, Anchorage School District
         Special Schools Program; Anchorage, Alaska

GRADE LEVEL:  Written for students 7- 12

OVERVIEW:  The formation of a government, and the
development of laws, is a concept taught from the
beginning to the end of school.  The lesson helps
students understanding of governmental systems, the
laws they create and the punishments assigned for the
violation of those laws. Through the use of a
cooperative learning activity the students will develop
their own government, author laws, and designate the
consequence for the violation of those laws.

LESSON  PREMISE:  The lesson finds the students on an
island after their ship has wrecked, or their plane has
crashed.  Food, fresh water, and shelter are in short
supply.  The students must form a government, develop
laws and penalties.

OBJECTIVE(s):  The first objective would be that the
student would learn something.  The chances of this are
good if the students are left to work out the lesson on
their own.  Even if the lesson goes down the tubes,
they will have learned what our founding fathers had to
go through to form this country.  The skills that
students will develop are as follows:
1)   Cooperative learning skills, they will have to
     work together just like in real life.
2)   Leadership skills, some one in the class will have
     to take charge.
3)   Law related skills, they will have to make up
     their own laws and consequences for violations of
     those laws.
4)   Written language skills, everything they do will
     need to be recorded.  Who knows       they may
     even write their own constitution.
5)   Geography skills, they will have to find out where
     they are.
6)   Imagination skills, here is a skill not used very
     often today.  Depending on where the student and
     the teacher carry the lesson, skill development is
     endless.

ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES:
1)   Choose a place and a period in time for the
     student to crash or wreck on the island.
2)   Inform them that food, water and shelter are in
     short supply.  They will, also, need to know that
     their chance of rescue is zip.
3)   At the end of the activity they will be required
     to turn in the following written work:
     a)  A description of the type of government
         that they have chosen,
     b)  a list of laws that the new government has
         developed,
     c)  and a list of the penalties for violation
         of these laws.
4)   Explain to the students that during the activity
     the teacher will be grading each student on his or
     her own participation.
5)   Develop a self evaluation for the students  (don't
     skip this, it is an important part of the lesson
     and will be the best record of what the students
     have learned.).
6)  Let them go at it and don't interfere. ( It's best
     if you start with a set time frame and then work
     from there.)
7)  When  they have finished discuss the outcome as a
     group.

ALTERNATIVE ACTIVITIES:
1)   Do a geography lesson first to help them
     understand where they have landed.
2)   Have them write a constitution or a bill of rights
     for their new country.
3)   Let each student describe in their own words what
     the government or country is like.
4)   Have coup de' etat, the teacher can take over and
     set up a social dictatorship.
5)   Read The Lord of the Flies
6)   Develop a mock trial testing one of the laws the
     class has created.
The list is endless!

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER  Let the student's work as a
group -- they may surprise you.  In the discussion at
end of the lesson have the students evaluate their laws
and the punishments that they have assigned to them.
See if they feel the punishment fits the crime.  The
teacher may want to relate the student's penalties to
those assigned to our laws.  If the class has assigned
the death penalty as a consequence this can open a
whole new area for discussion.   The design of the
lesson is to take advantage of those teachable moments,
let the students lead for a little while and you will
be amazed at what you can teach them.


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John Kurilecjmk@ofcn.org