What's so Great About Our New Government?

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SWBAT...understand why we needed to change the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution to strengthen our government.

Big Idea

When we make rules for many different people we need to make sure that all voices are heard and that all people feel protected. Colonists faced this same problem and decided to make changes to better address the needs of the new citizens of America.

Creating the Purpose

10 minutes

In the previous lesson we shared about our class rules and suggested changes that would improve our class community and people. Now I am going to teach students about the Articles of Confederation and have them "discover" why they needed to be changed to be effective.

I open by asking students what are some basic principals or rules that we should have in our city and state? I then ask, Should every state have the same rules? Why or why not? This one stumps them for a little while until I share a story about when I lived in Texas and all the stores closed on Saturday night for religious reasons and didn't open again until Monday morning. If one state does this should all states do this? 

After we share a bit with this and I have their curiosity levels up, I share that today we are going to analyze a primary source document  The Articles of the Confederation, our first Constitution, to determine the pros and cons of each of its rules. We will then determine why we had to rewrite it.

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

I share more about how our government was also based on rights and responsibilities.  I say, Our government was created and is still run by a group of citizens that we elected to represent our opinions. These people who make our laws, enforce our laws and determine whether all  laws are fair or need changing. We created this governing group when we created the Continental Congress in the Revolutionary War times. The group wrote the Articles of Confederation after the war. 

Lets take a look at The Articles of Confederation and see what was written and what we feel needs to be changed for today's society. I pass out the student copy of the Summary of the Articles of Confederation and have students read it with me.

I then give them 5 minutes to complete their responses and then ask some to share. I want students to begin to realize that this document was a good start but that improvements were made and the US Constitution was created in its place.


Independent Practice

20 minutes

I know want to introduce students to higher level thinking of what should be written before I expose the Constitution and show them what actually was written. This is a fun way for students to get involved in the past and make connections to rules back then to their lives today. 

I show students the chart with Analysis of the Articles of the Confederation with what the pros and cons would be for each law. I ask students to look at the first idea on the chart. I then ask them to use this and the rest of their notes to determine if we should have kept the Articles of Confederation or changed them and why they feel this way.  

My purpose is for students to come to the conclusion that the Articles were lacking in some areas so that when I conduct the next lesson on the US Constitution they can use their background knowledge to understand why the next document was so lengthy and specific.

Here's a video of some students opinions of the Articles of Confederation and the final class poll of "keep" or "change"



Closing the Loop

10 minutes

These first three parts of this lesson take awhile because students don't really make all the connections to the struggles faced during those times and to the consequences caused by many of these vague rules. Instead of a discussion that I felt would not lead to the correct responses - I chose to share this really good educational video that helps students see the problems The Articles of Confederation created by making connections to real life situations (buying and paying for pizza). The video helped to bring the difficulties to light in a visual way. 

Here's the link:

I share that colonists agreed that the Articles of Confederation should be changed and that's why we wrote the United States Constitution a few years later.