With the Constitution Test behind us, we’ve spent the last week getting deeper into the idea of responsible citizenship. The discussion was largely driven by the awful week last week was. It began with an examination of citizenship. What is expected of a citizen? What are our rights and responsibilities? How does a government get it’s power, anyway? A good government requires it’s people to be educated and dedicated.
We have connections to our principles, or goals, and what the letter of the Constitution says.
With the news of Dallas, Boston, etc., the discussion shifted towards critical thinking. When we watch the news, how do we know what’s accurate? From CNN, to newspaper reporters, blogs and social media, many mistakes were made identifying the suspects and explaining what happened. It was a study in not only terrorism, but in fact-checking. With how quickly news spreads, responsible citizens cannot believe everything they hear. Mistakes are amplified in the name of sensationalism. Responsible and educated citizens make sure what they read is true, and verify it in the name of being accurate. Think critically and look for multiple sources.
Lastly, what can WE do? How do we get involved? It begins with monitoring what our elected officials do. Listen/read/watch/tweet the news. Be award. Then, take social action. Talk to people. Create awareness. Share on Facebook. Oh, and LISTEN! LEARN from others by listening! Discuss, don’t argue! And social action allows you to take both informal and formal political action. Citizenship becomes realized when people contribute to their democracy in meaningful, subtle, and consistent ways. Which leads into our main idea. The majority of Americans don’t do this. We are often “McDonald’s Citizens.”
This isn’t a derogatory term, but a idea. Many people eat at fast food restaurants because it’s convenient it’s cheap, and it tastes good. Similarly, most people don’t vote (or become politically active) because it’s too time consuming. We just vote for President (because it’s unavoidable). There may be some truth to that idea. Being a good citizen requires time. However, some dedication is required of all of us to be both healthy people, and responsible citizens. McDonald’s is crazy good, and easy. But, unfortunately, it’s not that good for you! Eating healthy requires time and effort, but obviously pays some great dividends. Same with voting… but… what are those dividends??? If you want to be healthy, you stop eating at McDonald’s so often. If you want to be a responsible citizen (and have a better country), we need to stop treating our democracy like we do our diets.
We know McDonalds is unhealthy, but go to eat there anyway. How do we get people to want to vote. To vote not because they have to, but because the want to. How do we erase the excuses and realities that limit people from wanting to vote? It’s a major hurdle in the maintenance of our republic.
Today’s lesson culminated our study of responsible citizenship based on this theme. How do we get people to vote? How do we get people to contribute to our democracy more than a few times a year? Or during Presidential elections? Here are the posters and skits our kids came up with:
- iVote app! Download the free app, research your candidates, and vote. At your convenience!
- Business Balloting! Go to work, and there’s a voting booth at your job! Simply vote just like you’d get money from an ATM.
- Dunkin Voting is the same idea, but at our favorite restaurants!
- Connect issues to what the kids experience (for example, a friend getting hit by a car making traffic and vehicle safety realistic).
- Have legislators and politicians meet with us and introduce their ideas to us.
So this week we finished our study of the Supreme Court. We had begun with an examination of two specific student speech cases, Tinker v. Des Moines, and Hazelwood vs. Kulzeimer. Both cases dealt with students and, to what extent, they are allowed to speak their minds.
This transitioned into an activity in which our students researched specific cases. Case law is tremendous background information to learn, as a number of current events deal with our principles, Constitutional rights, and limits on the government’s power. Awareness of court cases to support arguments (such as, in Language Arts’ persuasive speeches). Students have also noticed how much better they understand newspapers and television shows pertaining to crime.
Additionally, students were challenged to critically think how each case connected to the Constitution. How did the ruling of the majority set a precedent? Why did the minority vote against the action of the court? And what Constitutional principle was clarified or reinforced?
As we prepare for the US Constitution Test, here are some last minutes reminders as of what you could use to help (in descending order of importance):
- Class notes shared with students through Google Drive.
- Last month’s practice test.
- Any of the handouts, worksheets, activities, websites, videos, etc shared in class.
- Study Guide, delivered last week and reviewed in class on Wednesday.
And of course, a little clue to a few more questions :) http://instagram.com/p/X5Vc00mXEJ/
Got questions? Ask away!!
Taken me a long time to come to this conclusion, but, I’m taking some time off from girls basketball. I will not be coaching our Varsity Girls Basketball team next year, nor will I, for the first time since 2005, have any part in the girls program.
This is a sad reality, considering how hard I’ve worked to build a strong program. We’ve been successful both on and off the court. I have tremendous relationships with dozens of former players and their families. But the demands of my program, my profession, and my family are too great to share. I have, literally, accomplished every goal I had with this program when I started it. But, at least for now, I’m taking some time away from basketball.
I’m incredibly excited about the future, though. John and I are planning an October road trip to Indianapolis and Richmond VA to meet and observe some our profession’s best coaches. I plan to spend my post-JV portion of the season studying the game in a variety of ways, and am excited to do some things that I never get to do during our season. And, I have some quality time ahead with Mason, someone who has been accustomed to early goodbyes and 11:00 pm goodnights, long after he went to bed.
The reality is that I have at least another 30 years for me to teach. Given my love for basketball and the people I’ve coached, I’m certainly not done. I may begin a team for my son and his friends, as he loves basketball. I may train players individually. My best friend (my wife, Jen) has encouraged me to pursue high school coaching. Or maybe I’ll rebuild a new program at Lakeview, a program that, despite Varsity success, has slowly faded for a variety of reasons the last few years. I’m sad that I won’t get to coach Lindsey and Jennifer and Kaitlyn and their teammates next year. But there’s always a Lindsey and a Jennifer… the year after its Kelly, then Dana, and on and on… the girls are the heart and soul of my coaching experience, so if I wait until there’s not a Dana or Rose, I’ll be coaching in perpetuity, and at my own demise.
I probably have a little more to post. I wrote an entirely different blog post last night, so I’ll update and post again as I continue to reflect on the end of my coaching tenure here. Again, I’m sad. But I’m also proud. Few coaches have had the relationships and experiences that I’ve had here. I take a break knowing we did everything I wanted to. And it’s not like Maura or Madison or Ahona or going away anytime soon. Nobody can take away what we’ve learned and accomplished! It’s just a new phase of my career, something I look forward to.
Three assignments are due in the next week:
- Due Friday, all Brain Pops. Students are required to do one, at least. Any extra are for extra credit. Watch a video, do the quiz, and bring a printed out result for me.
- Due Friday: read Chapter 8, Section 4, and answer Questions 1-6. This is a section on Local Government.
- Due Monday, is your complete study guide (front and back).