Lesson Plan: US Government

Date: September 2, 1998

Objectives: The students will

I. Provide a working definition of the word "civics."

II. list some of the qualities, duties, and responsibilities  of  a good citizen;

III. Discuss the naturalization process and evaluate American attitudes toward immigrants.

Curricular Connection: How Do these activities relate to the essential curriculum?

American Citizenship

I. describe the steps of the naturalization process.

II. Analyze US policy on acceptance of refugees from other nations.

III. Identify the responsibilities of a US Citizen
Warm Up Activity (Anticipatory Set): Review: The Three Levels of Government

  A) Post the following examples of governments on the board or overhead. Have students identify them as national, state, or local government.

1) Hagerstown
2) Maryland
3) Great Britain
4) Washington County
5) The United States

B) Discuss why each of those examples should be labeled as such.

New Information: Duties of a US Citizen

A) Display the following information on the overhead and have students enter the information into their notes.

Duties and Responsibilities of U.S. Citizens

Legal duties: These are actions a citizen MUST do to stay within the law.

An American citizen MUSTů
Obey laws passed by Congress (federal laws)
And laws passed by state and local legislatures.|

Serve as a witness if asked by the Court to do so.
A witness must respond to a court-order to appear before the court, called a subpoena.

Serve on a jury.
Employers must allow citizens to serve with no problems if asked.
Citizens can be excused if they can show that serving would cause hardship.

Legal responsibilities: What An American citizen SHOULD do:

Vote in federal, state, and local elections.
The voting age in the United States is 18 according to the 26th Amendment (1971)
51% is a majority and wins the vote.

Run for political office
Only if he or she feels a contribution can be made.
The candidate must file with the party of their choice.
It takes large amounts of money to run even a local campaign.

Express opinions to elected officials
Citizens can write Congressional offices
Making a phone call is also OK
Email is possible too.

Participate in civic groups such as the Lions Club, Kiwanis, or American Legion.

Know his or her legal rights according to the Constitution.
Be familiar with the Court System.

The information in the table above is available as a PowerPoint presentation.

B) Discuss the importance of each item. Have students identify which of the two sections they feel is the most important.

Main Activity (Instructional Input):

A) Display, define, and discuss the following terms:

Vocabulary on American citizenship from American Civics, William Hartley and William Vincent, Holt, Rhinehart, and Winston, Inc. 1992. 
See teacher worksheet for answers and student worksheet for blanks.

Chapter One 

  1. Civics (pg. 3)
  2. Government (pg. 3)
  3. Ideals (pg. 3)
  4. Immigrants (pg. 7)
  5. Quota (pg. 7)
  6. Refugees (pg. 8)
  7. Native born (pg. .8)
  8. Aliens (pg. 9)
  9. Naturalization (pg. 9)
  10. Census (pg. 11) 
  11. Rural areas (pg. 14)
  12. Urban areas (pg. 14)
  13. Sunbelt (pg. 15)
  14. Hispanics (pg. 15)
  15. Migration (pg. 15)

B) Use a magazine or newspaper to illustrate some of the vocabulary terms. Display pictures dealing with those topics and have students identify which term best describes the photo or picture.

C) Have students write a paragraph stating why they think people from all over the world want to become Americans. Then have a student look up the word "ethnocentrism." Have students discuss whether or not they believe Americans are ethnocentric.

Examples (Modeling): Use the textbook to reinforce the examples above. Any US Government text will have photographs or illustrations to clarify each of the concepts.

Check For Understanding: Have students locate one or more of the concepts in their textbook independently. Students might also be allowed to use the newspaper or magazines such as Time, USA Today, US News and World Report, CNN or National Geographic. Students might also be allowed to search for images that are related to the concepts above on-line using the web sites of those publications..

Homework (Independent Practice): Thinking About Citizenship

Have students use newspapers or magazines or news broadcast to find examples of responsibilities of American citizenship. Have students record examples on paper and bring them in for discussion.

Wrap-Up Activity (Closure): What Does It All Mean?

A) Display the Pledge of Allegiance on the overhead or in print. Share the History of the Pledge of Allegiance with the students.

B) Have students discuss its meaning in writing or verbally.

C) Have them write their own pledge to America. have them stress how America is different or similar than other nations and their governmental systems.

D) Have student create a list of what they believe American ideals are. Then create a chart on the board or overhead that asks students if the United States has lived up to those ideas. Tell students to state at least one reason why or why not they believe the ideal has or has not been reached. Then have students read the Preamble to the Constitution. Discuss the ideals found there.

Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:

I. the accuracy of student's written vocabulary definitions

II. student's scores on future tests and quizzes.

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