Although I have been teaching the same subject for twelve years, my ADD kicks in constantly and I always feel the need to change how I attack each unit. This doesn't always end in success and many times I've gone back to what I did the year before. Sometimes, though, it really pays off.
Although I have alway been happy with my Bill of Rights unit, I decided to jazz it up a bit this year. I used to give an illustrated explanation of the Bill of Rights but this year I decided to do a foldable. After nine years away from using interactive notebooks, I've decided to launch it again next year. When I first had students keep interactive notebooks all those years ago, foldables hadn't even been imagined. Now Dinah Zike has entire books on foldable activities created especially to fit into notebooks. I've decided to start to integrate notebook activities into my binders this year as practice.
At the end of our discussion on the Bill of Rights, I gave the kiddos a homework assignment that asked them to name the most useless of the amendments and the most important.
When they came in the next day, I had made a grid on the board representing the ten amendments. They were to put a green sticky on the most important amendment and an orange sticky on the one they felt we could live without. I then asked them to tell me what they noticed. In each class, this led to deep conversations mostly concerning the usefulness of the 9th amendment and we continued our discussion on how some of these things seem like nonnegotiables but maybe that's because we have had these freedoms for over two hundred years. My favorite insight was into the lack of stickies for the eighth amendment. One student commented that although that amendment doesn't matter to him because he is fourteen he like knowing it is there just in case he ever needs it:).
After we finished our discussion, we watched a BrainPop on the Bill of Rights and then this very fun video I found on YouTube.
We were able to just start our next activity where the students created law firms and I present them with various scenarios dealing with the amendments and they need to identify the amendment for each case. For each one they get right they receive $100 Wilkins' dollars.
I'm really glad I tried some new activities this year. I think I have improved the unit!!
Afternote: The kiddos also love the Student Rights Video on BrainPop. It really helped them understand that they have rights, but being in a school makes it a little different.