|| Lesson Plan: Context
Matt Johnson is chair of the department of social studies and teaches
Advanced Placement (AP) U. S. Government, AP Comparative Government, U.S.
Government, Law, Economics, D.C. History, and Global Perspectives to students
at Benjamin Banneker Senior High School in Washington, D.C. Students in
his Law class have won the District of Columbia Mock Trial Championship
for seven of the past nine years. In addition to his course load, he has
served as senior class sponsor, coordinator of Congressional internships,
law club sponsor, stock market club sponsor, and outdoors club sponsor
as well as coached varsity softball, boys JV basketball, and varsity cross
country. Prior to teaching, Matt Johnson interned at some political think
tanks in Washington, D.C., and was a legislative librarian at a law firm.
Matt Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ripon
College in Wisconsin and a Master’s degree in political science
at George Washington University in the District of Columbia.
Benjamin Banneker Senior High School is a small, college preparatory,
public high school in Washington, D.C. Nearly 93 percent of its 432 students
are African American (1999-2000 data); other students are Pacific Islander
(3.2 percent), Hispanic (3.2 percent), or White (0.7 percent). The high
school has an attendance rate of 96.4 percent and a promotion rate of
98.1 percent. In 1999, 92 percent of its senior students graduated. SAT
rates in that year averaged 522 in mathematics and 553 verbal.
Constitutional Law is a two-semester, grade 12, honors option at Benjamin
Banneker Senior High School, and provides an academically challenging
environment. The course is co-taught by Matt Johnson and students from
the American University Washington College of Law. It aims to encourage
all students to become autonomous learners, effective communicators, and
active citizens in our society. Students are expected to do independent
research on a civil law topic, write a complete analysis of a constitutional
issue, and submit a book review on a current law-related book. Students
participate in mock trials and a citywide moot court competition. The
course has four units: Introduction to Law and Legal Systems, Constitutional
Law, Civil Law, and Criminal Law. The course text is We the Students:
Supreme Court Cases For and About Students by Jamin B. Raskin, American
University Washington College of Law (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2000).
The textbook focuses on the constitutional rights of high school students,
which are limited in relation to the rights that others have, and analyzes
why they are limited.