Monday, 26 October 2009

Regionalism, federalism, checks and balances

I have spent this morning planning tomorrow’s teaching, and as the title here suggests, our main focus in class will be on the USA. Ususally, the students come to class with a lot on their minds when we are dealing with the US, but my experience is that their knowledge about American politics and geography is not the best. This should not come as a surprise, but I believe most many teachers tend to forget that we have been just as ignorant at some point in life as our students are when we meet them in the classroom. I also believe we sometimes forget that one of the reasons we know quite a lot about certain topics, is because we have been interested in learning about them, not only because we were told to. I know for sure I was not all that into American politics either when I was 16.

Anyway, last week I gave all my students a small group assignment on regions in the US. My aim is for them all to know that the USA consists of 50 individual states (if someone can explain to me why so many Norwegians think there are 52 states, I would be happy to know, by the way…), and that there is a great variety from one region to the other when it comes to history, economy, attitudes, etc. As a point of departure, all the students were asked to read the text “America the beautiful”. Then each of the groups were given one specific region they were to present to the others. In the presentations I want all the groups to include information about

  • history
  • population
  • economy, business and industry
  • geography
  • famous cities and attractions

    and I really hope they have managed to dig up information about all the five points, not just the last one.

    After all the presentations, we will turn to politics. I have tried to find some resources on the internet that can help them understand the three branches of government and the system of checks and balances, and I also plan on giving them a short lecture on the topic. If the texts and my lecture are not enough, perhaps these short films can help out:

    My entire lesson plan can be seen here.


    1. Here is a video about US elections - very simple but very instructive, and explains elections better than I am able to. This Lefever has a lot of instruction videos about wikis, twitter, blogging etc, but you have probably seen those.

    2. Yes, I have seen some of them, but thanks anyway! Comments are always welcome:)!

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