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Overview

Student Work:
Slideshow Icon Slideshow

Subject/Sub-Subject: Social Studies/U.S. History


Title: Constitutional Convention Simulation


Summary:

Students experience the Constitutional Convention in this simulation. Given the role of a specific delegate, they research their delegate's stand and prepare a speech for a debate on the issues of state representation, federalism, and slavery as they re-enact the convention. They also look forward to the prospect of the Bill of Rights.


Understanding Goal

Compromise is a necessary element in the process of achieving lasting change.

Investigative Question

How was our Constitution created?

Grade(s): 1
Audience: General
Learners: This simulation has been planned for a heterogeneous general education classroom of about 20 to 25.
Required Vocabulary: N/A
Prior Content Knowledge: N/A
Standards

VA.USI.1.a. United States History to 1877: Skills: The student will develop skills for historical and geographical analysis, including the ability to identify and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of events and life in United States history to 1877.
VA.USI.7.b.United States History to 1877: Revolution and the New Nation: 1770s to the Early 1800s: The student will demonstrate knowledge of the challenges faced by the new nation by identifying the basic principles of the new government established by the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.

Field Tests

Click on the title to expand the description of each field test


Sources

Constitutional Convention Simulation

Understanding Goal

Compromise is a necessary element in the process of achieving lasting change.

This collection has no items

Required Materials

Files

continuousdocument_wholeconstitutionunit.doc
wholeunit_bookmarks.pdf
Constitutional Convention Simulation.ppt

Web Sites

Zoom-In: Constitutional Convention
Constitution Founding Fathers
Event in a Box: Constitutional Convention
Life in a Box Learning Experience: Constitutional Convention Delegates
Constitutional Convention Delegates Resource Matrix
New Matrix of Delegates (still under construction)

Supply Lists

-Textbooks
-Tradebooks covering the Constitutional Convention and Delegate biographies
-Internet access and computers for research
-Costume Accessories for late 18th century
-Chart paper and markers for Morris's notes and for a "Constitution" for delegates to sign at the end of the simulation
-Props for the simulation: Gavel, green tablecloths, (or green butcher paper), a quill, white candles in gold candle holders as pictured in the painting by Christy.
-High-lighters

Directions

Introduction

Step 1 Post the Understanding Goal and Investigative question where students can see them. Post the day-by-day timeline for the simulation where students can see it. Collect resources for the students to do their research.

Supply Lists

  • -Textbooks
    -Tradebooks covering the Constitutional Convention and Delegate biographies
    -Internet access and computers for research
    -Costume Accessories for late 18th century
    -Chart paper and markers for Morris's notes and for a "Constitution" for delegates to sign at the end of the simulation
    -Props for the simulation: Gavel, green tablecloths, (or green butcher paper), a quill, white candles in gold candle holders as pictured in the painting by Christy.
    -High-lighters
Step 2 Plan how you will assign delegate roles to maximize student strengths using the "Important Convention Delegates" chart. Make copies of the script for each student and write the student's name and the name of the delegate they will be acting on the script.

Files

Step 3 Make class copies of student handouts. Gather research materials for students to use during their delegate research.

Files

Step 4 Introduce the learning experience and help students form a personal connection to the investigative question with a think-pair-share response to the following prompt: Think of a major change in your life, describe how it happened and how you felt about it.

Files

Step 5 Introduce the learning experience by telling the students that they will be investigating a major change in the nature of our government over the next few days. Show the Zoom-in of the Constitutional Convention and lead students to examine what is happening. (This PowerPoint also includes slides to lead teachers through the rest of this Learning Experience.)

Files

Step 6 Connect the Zoom-In to the convention simulation. Tell the students that over the next few classes they will "become" delegates to the Constitutional Convention, creating speeches for a debate and re-enactment of the convention. Point out the time-line for the simulation so students can see the plan for the next few lessons.

Web Sites

Step 7 Review the roles and assignments of the 3 students, Franklin, Morris, and Washington, who will NOT be making a persuasive speech with these students.

Supply Lists

  • -Textbooks
    -Tradebooks covering the Constitutional Convention and Delegate biographies
    -Internet access and computers for research
    -Costume Accessories for late 18th century
    -Chart paper and markers for Morris's notes and for a "Constitution" for delegates to sign at the end of the simulation
    -Props for the simulation: Gavel, green tablecloths, (or green butcher paper), a quill, white candles in gold candle holders as pictured in the painting by Christy.
    -High-lighters
Step 8 Review the roles and assignments for "extra delegates" if your class size necessitates using these.

Investigation

Step 1 Brainstorm a list of delegates that the students have learned about previously with the class. After they have thought of all the ones they know, tell them there were 52 delegates in all, and they will be playing the roles of 20-25 of the most important.

Web Sites

Step 2 Review the issues at the convention with the students with another brainstorm. Tell the students that their simulation will focus on four important disagreements debated at the convention: 1)The Federal System of Government - or how much power should the central or national government have and how much should the states and local governments have? 2)Representation - how would states be represented in the new government? 3)Slavery - how would slaves and slavery be treated in both representation and regulation of trade? 4)Would the new constitution inclued specific guarantees of individual rights?

Files

Step 4 Handout the simulation packets to the students. Review the materials in the packet with the students, pointing out The Important Delegate Chart's description of each delegate role.

Files

Web Sites

Step 5 Assign delegate roles by handing out the scripts you have labeled with student names and roles. Read over the script with the students. Tell students to write the topic on which they need to prepare a speech at the top of their script. Ask students to highlight their part of the script. Point out the Research Matrix in the packet and tell students that tomorrow, as they do their research, they will need to complete the information on their delegate.
Step 6 Highlight or mark the posted Convention Simulation Timeline each day to show students they are now on days 2 and 3 to do research. Review the research resources and materials you have gathered for the class. Challenge students to use primary sources as well as texts and tradebooks, pointing out that quotes for their speeches should come from primary or historical sources. Assist students with research. Remind students to take notes and keep a record of the sources they use as they research if you wish them to create a bibliography. Check to be sure students are correctly interpreting their delegate's stand on the issues.

Files

Step 7 Highlight or mark the posted Convention Simulation Timeline to show students they are now on day 4 and will be learning how to write a persuasive speech. Ask student what it means to be "persuasive." Brainstorm times or situations when people need to be persuasive with the students.

Files

Step 8 Tell students people can be persuasive with words as well as acts. Go over the sheet called "Language of Persuasion" in the student packets. Discuss each specific example. Answer and clarify student questions and concerns.
Step 9 Go over the sheet outlining the hamburger model of persuasive writing and discuss. Do an example together as a class on the graphic organizer. Clarify and answer any student questions or concerns.
Step 10 Ask students to look at the worksheet in their packet called "Preparing for the Debate: Powerful and Persuasive Words." Brainstorm words that can be persuasive and write them down in the first five blanks on the worksheet. Ask students to think about the speech they are going to make and write down 10 persuasive words that they can use in the speech. Remind sudents that even if they are creating an informational speech, they can still use persuasive language.
Step 11 Highlight or mark the posted Convention Simulation Timeline to show students they are now on day 5 and will have only this day and tomorrow to write their speech. Go over the rules and rubric for their speeches with the class. Hand out the appropriate speech planning sheets and rubrics. Tell the class each speech can be no more than 2 minutes.
Step 12 Assist students with writing and practicing their speeches. Remind students to select and finish costumes. Encourage students to invite family and friends as audience. Plan whether you will conduct the simulation as 1 "block" period or as "Act I and Act II" on 2 days.
Step 13 Highlight or mark the posted Convention Simulation Timeline to show students they are now on day 7 and will have only this day to finish all preparations for the simulation. Direct student attention to the research matrix in their packet. Tell students that tomorrow, as they listen to the speeches and perform the simulation, they are to listen carefully so they can complete the matrix for the other delegates after the simulation. Assist students with final arrangements such as costumes and timing speeches. Remind Morris to take notes and make sure he has markers and chart paper for this. Reminding Washington he will have to present his speech on the rules of order first. Reminding Franklin to have his/her timeline ready for display.
Step 14 Tell the students that the convention delegates met in secrecy; having the windows shut and the doors locked even though it was summer in Philadelphia. Have the students help you create the atmosphere for the simulation tomorrow. Arrange student desks so that the delegates from the same state are grouped and pushed together. Cover each group of desks with green cloth or butcher paper. Create a state sign for each group of desks and tent name tags for each delegate at the table. Put a quill and ink bottle on the front tables(Washington's and Morris' table). Put unlit candles in brass or gold candlesticks (as in the Christy painting)on the front desk. Put a piece of chart paper and markers to represent the constitution on the front desk so the delegates can all "sign the constitution" at the end of the simulation. Decorating Washington's chair with a picture of the sun on the back. Cover the windows and lock (or pretendto lock) all doors.
Step 15 Highlight or mark the posted Convention Simulation Timeline to show students they are now on day 8! Ask Washington to present his report on the rules of order and open the convention. Ask delegates to take their places. Start the simulation following the script. Sit in the back of the room and take otes about the discussion as the students perform.

Formal Assessment

Step 1 Congratulate students on their hard work and a successful convention. Ask students to grade their part of the presentation on the appropriate rubric in their simulation packet and hand it in to you. Use your notes from the simulation to fill in your part of the rubric and return these to the students the next day.

Files

Step 2 Reflect on the experience with the students using the round rally technique. Divide class into groups of 4 or 5. Hand out a set of the Round Rally Question Sheets to each group. Prepare these questions sets ahead of time. Put each question on a different color of paper, if possible. Ask students in each group to select one of the question sheets to answer. After about 3 minutes, tell students to pass the question they answered to the left and accept a different question from the student to their right. Give the groups another 3 minutes or so to add to or reflect on or answer the new question. Continue to rotate papers until all students have had a chance to reflect on or answer all the questions you selected. Give students sufficient time on each rotation to read what other students have written.
Step 3 Ask students to share with the class their question and what others in their group wrote in response.
Step 4 Ask students to turn to the research matrix in their packet. As a class fill it out for each delegate.
Step 5 Give each student a copy of the constitution. Have them take 3 different colored highlighters. Challenge them to read the constitution and find all references to the federal system of government, representation and population, and slavery. Tell them to create a key at the top of the constitution showing which color is which issue and then highlight their copy accordingly. Demonstrate this process for the class with one topic.
Step 6 Clarify student questions about the assignment. Tell students what you want them to do if they think a section of the Constitution falls in more than one category.

Best Practices


Analysis of Student Learning


Student learning will be evident through their completion of the Constitutional Convention Analysis worksheet and through conversations. Students can also recognize primary sources in their textbooks.


Analysis of Best Instructional Practices (learn more)

Differentiated Instruction Differentiated Instruction (learn more)

Content

Some delegates require advanced level of research skills and more background knowledge. Assigning students roles where the student is in disagreement with the delegate on some issues is more challenging. Early finishers may be assigned to research additional issues.

Literacy Instruction Literacy Instruction(learn more)

Writing

Students use graphic organizers to write a persuasive speech supported through their research.

Information/Media

Students use research skills to gather information on their delegate and to determine whether or not information found is relevant to their delegate and the issues involved in creating the Constitution.

Teaching for Understanding Teaching for Understanding(learn more)

Explicit Understanding Goal

Understanding Goal was shared with students and students had an opportunity to articulate their knowledge of constitutional issues and the people involved.

Check Misconceptions

Highlighting important parts of the Constitution helps to determine if students are understanding the most important points. Discussions with students and their presentation as a delegate helps the teacher to know where students are in there thinking about the Constitution.

Reflections and Recommendations


Start with the "Zoom in on the Constitution" so the students know the event before they begin the Convention in a Box activity. Encourage the students to use their textbooks to further their knowledge and understanding. The bibliographies also provide additional information on the artifacts.


Credits

Authors and Contributors

Willia Hennigan
Churchill Road Elementary School, Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia
Amy Moeller
Canterbury Woods Elementary School, Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia
Laura Swetra
Churchill Road Elementary School, Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia