To start off our school year, my students are studying Ancient Greece and Rome. In the first chapter of their book, they learn about the city-states, including the various forms of government that were utilized. Rather than stop with a bunch of vocabulary terms on a notebook the students will never look at again, I decided to elaborate on this section.
To set the stage, I am working with only half of our class at once, so in each section there are 12 or 14 students. We have also started using Google Apps for Education this year (which is awesome… a blog on that soon to come). To utilize our new tools, our students were split into groups of 2 or 3 and asked to research a form of government. They had to find information about the traits of the government, its history, some important people that have been a part of that government, and countries that have used or currently use that form of government. They then utilized the presentation tool in Google Apps to display the facts that they found to the class.
The results were quite good. The students quickly adapted to the collaborative element of the new tool. By allowing all students to edit the presentation instead of just one on one computer, the students were much more engaged. I provided some assistance with resources, especially for those with rarer governments (anarchy and oligarchy, to be exact).
After hearing the presentations from their classmates, the groups then had to put on a skit. In the skit, they had to show the reaction of a specific form of government to a drought in their country. The results were fantastic. The students creatively showed the pros and the cons of each form of government, as well as the role of citizens, community leaders, and government officials inside each scenario.
In the future, I would like to try and make more international connections to the lesson. I spent some time looking for resources, but was unable to do so. However, as a start to the year, I think this activity went pretty well.