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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