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Making Civics Real Workshop 4: Constitutional Convention  
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Workshop 4

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Teacher Perspectives: Lessons learned

Matt Johnson: Looking back, I thought they'd get farther along than they did. But you never know until you try it what is achievable in a given period of time. If I had to do it again, maybe I would break that first worksheet into two parts so they'd have a sense of accomplishment, but it's always okay to have it as a homework assignment to finish up.

One of the surprises is always how they interpret what I'm asking them to do. There were a few questions that I was surprised they were confused by. I was surprised by how much they brought to the assignment. They really knew a lot more than I had expected them to know on the first day. I was happy to see that they had a fairly good command of some of the executive branch structures around the world.

I think you could ask fewer questions of the students, and then hope that more comes out in the larger debate; leave some things for the convention floor, so to speak. That way you could spend more time on the debate, which could be positive, but I'm a little fearful that if they don't have some details [the debate] wouldn't be as thorough. [I might] stop 15, 20 minutes into [the group discussions], checking to see if everybody's doing okay, but I was surprised at how well they were focused so I didn't feel a need to stop and get everybody's attention.

I was a little surprised, but I guess in hindsight not that shocked, that we adopted a lot of things that were pretty close to our American political system. The ideas were different but when push comes to shove you go with what you know, so we had a president with two terms and a legislative branch that has two houses. That seemed very similar to our congress.


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