Lesson Plan: US Government (Cooperative Team and Class building Activities)

Date: August 27, 1997

Objectives: The students will

I. engage in team-building and class-building activities.

II. identify ways to improve communication and social skills when involved in class projects.

Warm Up Activity (Anticipatory Set): Getting to Know Each Other

Part of working together as a class is the feeling of familiarity and class identity. One way to help improve relations among students is though get-to-know-you activities such as Inner-Outer Circle. Many of these activities can be refined to be used as mastery-learning activities when content is inserted into their structure.

The Inner Outer Circle:

Have students stand in a big circle. Every other person should take one giant step inside the circle and turn around facing those in the outer circle. In other words, there should be two circles with the outer circle people facing inward and the inner circle people facing outward, and everyone should be face to face.

The teacher should generate a number (10 is plenty) of questions that will reflect the personal interests and experiences of the students. This may need to be adapted to the students' age and grade level. Some possible questions include:

1) What was the best movie you saw over the summer and why did you like it?
2) What qualities make a good friend, teacher, sibling?
3) What is the most embarrassing experience you ever had involving your parents?
4) Rate President Obama's performance as president to the best of your knowledge.
     Include at least one good reason why you rated him the way you did.

5) What TV show do like or dislike and why?
6) Should the legal drinking age be lowered to 18 years old? Support your opinion.
7) If you could choose any one, which occupation do you think would be the best to have? The worst?
8) Name three things you like about living in your home town. Now name three things you dislike.
9) What kind of parent do you think you will be when you get older?
10) What is the most fun you have ever had at school?

For each question, students should exchange information with the person facing them. Then have either circle move a certain number of people to the left or right. So the teacher says after every question: "Inner circle move ___ (insert number) to the left (or right). The outer circle is then given a chance to rotate as well. A question is asked for every rotation. Continue until questions run out.
A Cooperative Discussion Activity (Instructional Input): "Take A Stand"

A) Develop a number of discussion questions based on your lesson dealing with issues. These issues might include:

Where Do You Stand Discussion Questions (Available as a separate web page.)

    1) The death penalty is an effective way of reducing the murder rate in America.

    2) An increasing number of Americans are voicing their opposition to abortion.

    3) Marijuana has been proven to reduce pain in medical situation and should be legalized for that purpose.

    4) Martin Luther King's dream of equality for all Americans is closer to reality than ever before.

    5) The American people have less faith in their government than any time since the Watergate affair of the 1970s.

    6) The US has a moral responsibility to spread prosperity and democracy to other nations in the world.

    7) If I were a parent of a teenager, I would let them watch any TV shows or listen to any CDs that they wanted to.

    8) The only reason a person should own a gun in their home is to go hunting with it.

    9) Teachers make enough money because they get summers off, so taxes should not be raised to pay them more money.

    10) The United States has the right to use “enhanced interrogation techniques” to prevent another terrorist attack like what happened on September 11, 2001.

B) Place a large card in each corner of the room that says one of the following:

       Strongly agree                             Agree                             Disagree                        Strongly Disagree
("I am way down wid dat!")      (I can dig it, sorta...)      (I'm not down wid dat!)     (No way Am I down with dat!)

C) Have students write their response on scrap paper before physically moving to either corner of the room. This prevents the "herd instinct" from taking over. Then allow them to stand under the card that best fits their opinion.

D) Have students discuss their viewpoints according to where they stood.

Wrap-Up Activity (Closure): Active Listening

A) Have students break into pairs.

B) Allow students to share information regarding a personal experience for exactly one minute. The speaker has one minute to talk while the listener may not say anything or interact with the speaker except for nods and "empathic grunts" ("uh-huh, I see..") After the minute expires, have the listener share the information with the class to see if s/he was actually listening.

Then have students switch with the other member of the pair doing the talking. Allow for discussion time afterwards.

Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:

I. student verbal evaluation of the activity itself.


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