Discovering an Ideal Government

by Whitney Smither
   Eight weeks into the grading period and 32 groups of sophomores from Mr. Burgess’s World History Honors classes are prepared to give their presentations about their ideal government on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
   Each group will have to present and critique other group’s work twice. The presentations will be held in the South gymnasium and last periods first through fourth. Peers, Paul Hadley Middle School students, Northwood students, teachers, administrators, and political experts will travel to Mooresville High School to examine and critique the group’s projects.
   “The purpose of this project is for sophomores to learn significant content tied to Common Core State Standards and Indiana Academic Standards in addition to growing in 21st Century skills,” history teacher Mr. Burgess said. “In other words, I would like for the students to learn about history in a fun and challenging way that promotes the thinking at a much deeper level.”
    The classes have been examining past civilizations including Middle Ages Europe, Byzantine Empire, Russian Empire, Umayyad Empire, Ottoman Empire, Safavid Empire, Tang Dynasty, Song Dynasty, Mongol Empire, Ming Empire, and Japan to learn about the failures and accomplishments of each government. From studying these civilizations the sophomores hoped to get an idea of how to answer the driving question of this project, “How do I as leader of my nation design an effective government?”
   Everyone in class was put into groups of three-to-five students. The first requirements of the project started with designating a role to each person in the group. The four main roles were the project leader, facilitator, recorder, and head researcher. After each role was given, the students had to sign a contract promising to follow all of it guidelines.
   Before the students could start designing their projects, they had to complete an overall of 30 responsibilities dealing with the past civilizations. These duties included 19 tasks about each civilization’s structure, political power, civil liberties, economy, military power, religion, learning, a time of crisis, and an evaluation of the government’s effective and ineffective decisions. The rest of the assignments incorporated completing five tasks on taking chapter notes from the World History textbook, and six tasks on viewing guides from viewing movies to create a better image of the civilizations for the students.
   In addition, every student had to fulfill their role listed above, turn in all performance tasks by the date listed, flipped learning notes, and chapter quizzes.
   After completing all 30 tasks, the groups could finally start thinking about how to create an ideal government. Each group was hold accountable for fully answering the driving question, to incorporate research from past civilizations, produce a visible/demonstrable product that includes a government building and a government document.  The documents had to address the government’s role in structure, political power, civil liberties, economy, military power, religion, learning, and a time of crisis.
   “I thought it was all together an interesting project,” sophomore Austin McKinney said. “We got to create a government the way we wanted it to work.”
  When finished with knowing what roles the government would play a part of, students had to find a way to teach the project to others. Many students used a tri-fold poster to plaster all their information on to show their audience, while other students used technology to their advantage by creating a PowerPoint.
   “This project was extremely time-consuming,” sophomore Olivia Ferrill said. “I like it a lot more than the last project because it allows me to be creative. Our group got to make man different visual aids for the project like a trifold, power point, code of law, and bill of rights.”
  Students could get even more resourceful and make a model of their government, sing a star-spangled banner, make a flag, or even have a debate between two different political powers in their country.
   Each group came up with their own unique way to demonstrate but the ending product was always the same; for the students to come up with a fit government that was their ideal.