This is a model lesson plan that I got to draft and try out! Part of the importance of the Service Learning experience is that it gives students the ability to model real-world experience – in this case, the kind of lesson plan that a teacher would use during a Social Studies class. Here is an example of a lesson plan I created, and feedback received for it, to give you an idea of how Service Learning can promote professional development.
My Lesson Plan:
The Political Spectrum
Teacher: Adam Pfau
Aim: To give students an understanding of the differences between the Democratic and Republican parties, in regards to economic policy. Also, to illustrate those differences by looking at the economic policies of the previous ten US Presidents as context.
Unit/Standard: American History/Government (probably an AP-level class), concerning learning standards relating to both topics as it deals with the historic policies of former Presidents, and also the ideologies of the two major political parties involved in our government.
Vocabulary: Economic Policy, Regulation/De-regulation, Free Market, Government Assistance, Government Spending, Social Security, Deficit.
Questions: What are the economic policies of the democratic and republican parties? What are the specific policies of the last ten US Presidents? Knowing the parties of those Presidents, are there any trends in voting that are visible?
- Hand out blank political spectrum graphs
- Detail the purpose of the lesson, and indicate that students are only to think about the political parties in regards to their economic policies for this lesson.
- Give brief summaries of the economic policies of both parties, and have students write down key words from those descriptions – key words such as “regulation”, “taxes”, “free market”, etc…
- Read brief summaries of the economic policies of the last ten US Presidents, and have the students put the names of those Presidents on the political spectrum chart based on where they think that policy falls in relation to the policies held by the two major parties.
- After, go down the list of Presidents and read the students their party affiliations.
- Ask students if any President’s policy did not match up with that of their party, and explain why this may be the case. Discuss this.
- Then, IF THERE IS TIME, do the same graphing for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and look at the graphing of the last ten Presidents to see if there are any immediate trends in how the country votes. Discuss these things.
Hook: “We all know the different political parties that the most recent historical Presidents have belonged to, and we know the different economic policies of the two major political parties, so let’s do an activity to see if our knowledge of those two things matches up by comparing the economic policies of former Presidents with that of the parties they belonged to.”
Homework: None was given for this example lesson, but you could give an assignment where students need to pick one specific President mentioned, and fill out a worksheet that involved going into their economic policy in more detail than the brief summary used for this lesson did.It would just take a quick Google search.
Post-Lesson Reflection/Feedback: The feedback for my lesson was positive, but did mention the time constraints of it. Dealing with so much information – the economic policies of ten Presidents and two parties – required moving pretty fast through it all and that made it hard to judge time. I didn’t use my full time, and I think the reason is because I was so worried about getting to it all that I ended up speeding through it when I didn’t have to. The positive notes on my feedback said that it engaged the students, and I do think my lesson did a good job of letting the teacher do most of the talking while also giving the students things to do (on the worksheet I handed them). This would prevent the students from being distracted, as they have things they continuously need to be doing. On the other hand, while the students had continual things to do, I possibly could have cut down on the talking that I did and given the students more of a chance to engage in that regard – a lot of my lesson involved me reading aloud things that I had written down. Personally, aside from the feedback I was given, I also notices some things that I could have done better after watching other people go. I didn’t leave my seat, and other people stood up and walked around the table while doing theirs. I don’t like to do that, but I have to admit that it would have made the lesson more engaging and lively.
I do think that my learning objective was properly met, and in a nice way though. Just stating the differences between the two political parties is a boring way to learn the political spectrum, and I think my method of focusing specifically on the economic policies between the two parties, and using that knowledge as a springboard to illustrate the overall differences in the political spectrum, was more interesting and specific. Also, using the previous ten US Presidents as examples added an “American History” element to the lesson, making it so that the lesson could really serve as a history AND government lesson. Learning about Presidents is something that I think everyone finds slightly interesting, and they are good figures to use to make a lesson more compelling – especially because they are elements in history that most students will already know something about and can relate to. The political spectrum can be difficult for students to understand, but when you relate it back to specific Presidents, I think it becomes easier.
I also think that I did a good job of including an element to my lesson that I only added on in case there was time. I planned to go through ten Presidents, but also planned to include Hillary and Trump should there be time. Including something extra like this is a nice way to take away any stress about finishing too early, as it gives you something to do should that happen. It did happen with my lesson, since I accidentally rushed it out of fear of not having enough time, so it gave me something to add on the end and a way to make it more relevant to today’s political scene.
That’s it! Now time to get through Monday.