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Understanding GovernmentUnderstanding-Government

  • Subject: U.S. History
  • |
  • Grade(s): K-5
  • |
  • Duration: 2-3 class periods

Lesson Plan Sections

Objectives


Students will
  • Describe the American flag and what it symbolizes.
  • Create a classroom flag that symbolizes the shared values of their classroom.

Materials


  • Understanding Government program
  • Chart paper
  • Black felt tip marker
  • White construction paper, one sheet per student
  • Computer with Internet access (optional)
  • Pencils and erasers
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils

Procedures


  1. Discuss the shared values presented inUnderstanding Government . Ask students: What are some important American values? How did these values come to be? What rules and laws that help uphold these values?
  2. Discuss the flag and other symbols of American values presented in Understanding Government. Ask students: What does the U.S. flag look like? What does it symbolize? What do the stripes, stars, and colors represent? What does the Lincoln Memorial remind us of? What are some other important American symbols? What do they represent?
  3. Explain to students that, like the United States, their classroom is a community that has shared values. Ask them to identify some of those shared values. Are there rules about how you should treat one another? How should the teacher or other adults be treated in the classroom? What responsibilities do you have as students? Why are these responsibilities important and how do they help the classroom function? What are some freedoms or rights that students have?

    Write the classroom values on a piece of chart paper and display it so students can refer to it later in the lesson.
  4. Discuss the list of classroom values. Ask students: How do the classroom values compare with the American values in the video? Add any new classroom values identified during the discussion to the list.
  5. ive each student a piece of construction paper and crayons, markers, or colored pencils. Tell students they will be designing a unique and colorful flag that represents all the classroom values on the list. Then they will write a paragraph describing their flag and what it symbolizes.

    Allow students to look at images of flags in reference books or on the Internet. The following Web sites that have images and information about flags of the world: Have students work on their flags and descriptive paragraphs in class and as homework.
  6. When the flags and descriptive paragraphs are finished, have each student share their flag and paragraph with the class. Compare the flags: Do any of them look similar? What did students like best about particular flags? Which flags seemed to best symbolize the classroom values?
  7. Display the flags in the classroom.

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Evaluation


Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:  Students clearly and correctly described the American flag and the American values it symbolizes; created unique and colorful flags that clearly represented the shared values of the classroom; and wrote thoughtful paragraphs describing their flags and what they symbolize.
  • Two points:  Students adequately described the American flag and were able to identify a few American values it symbolizes; created somewhat unique and colorful flags that mostly represented the shared values of the classroom; and wrote somewhat thoughtful paragraphs describing their flags and what they symbolize.
  • One point:  Students were unable to describe the American flag and the values it symbolizes; created incomplete flags that did not represent the shared values of the classroom; and wrote incomplete paragraphs that did not adequately describe their flags and what they symbolize.

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Vocabulary


civics
Definition: A social science that deals with the rights and duties of citizens
Context: Civics describes government and the rights and duties of citizens.

constitution
Definition: A document that outlines the principles and rules of a political or social organization
Context: The students worked together to create a classroom constitution.

rule
Definition: A defined guide or principle for conduct or action
Context: Students must follow many rules when they come to school.

symbol
Definition: Something that stands for something else by association, resemblance, or convention
Context: Our country's flag is an important symbol for American citizens.

value
Definition: A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable
Context: Americans come from diverse backgrounds, but they are united by common values.

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Academic Standards


Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL?s Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks,click here.
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
  • Historical Understanding: Understands the historical perspective
  • Civics: Understands ideas about civic life, politics, and government; Understands the sources, purposes and functions of laws, and the importance of rule of law for the protection of individual rights and the common good; Understands the importance of political leadership, public service, and a knowledgeable citizenry in American constitutional democracy; Understands the importance of Americans sharing and supporting certain values, beliefs and principles of American constitutional democracy
  • United States History?Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s): Understands the institutes and practices of government created during the Revolution and how these elements were revised between 1787 and 1815 to create the foundation of the American political system based on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
NCSS has developed national guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of NCSS, or to view the standards online, go to  The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching social studies. To view the standards online,click here.
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • Culture
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • Power, Authority, and Governance
  • Global Connections

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