Artifact 8:  (Field) If I Were President:  Pop Culture in the Curriculum

Standards: 2, 5
Goals: 2

President News
                                   One of my student’s newspaper reports on her decisions as Ms. President

     This artifact demonstrates another aspect of citizenship.  Politicians are constantly seeking new and catchy ways to attract voters, young and old. Since my students undoubtedly experienced many of the pop culture highlights of the election of 2008, for example, I thought they might like to experience what it’s like to be in the limelight of their own presidential campaign and the decisions they’d have to make along the way. The lesson I created around this idea involves students making choices for their country and reporting them in a newspaper at the end. Here is the website I used for this activity: http://teacher.scholastic.com/scholasticnews/games_quizzes/electiongame/game.asp.

   Students utilized skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and communicating opinions in written statements.  This lesson (unlike some!) was largely a success, mainly because my students really seemed to appreciate and tune into my references to pop culture they were familiar with (concerning politics, anyway). Thus, participation levels were high and many students were really quite perceptive and thoughtful about the budget they were given and where to allocate different resources. I chose this activity in the first place because we were studying the administrations of John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Martin Van Buren.  During past lessons about these men, my students had a lot to say about Jackson in particular, and the “mean” decisions he made during his presidency. So, I thought I would give them a taste of the job with this activity! 

    I want to continue to make social studies relevant to my teenaged students.  If they are to become responsible, pro-active citizens,they must, at this early stage, experience what it is like to be part of the civic process.  I also would like to role play famous trials and historical events to make them come alive and have intrinsic meaning to the students.