“We Were There…”

This group project takes the events of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and has them acted out in an in class simulation. But there is one catch: we use the modern media and tactics of contemporary lobbyists to weigh in on one side or another. This allows students to learn the politics of that time well while also comparing and contrasting the very different media landscapes, appreciating the strengths and weaknesses of the late 18th and early 21st centuries and their manners of politicking.

A mainstay of my American Experience class, I have almost a decade of student artifacts and DVD videos of speeches and debates from this mock Constitutional Convention. In fact, I simply give student group copies of exemplary student work, and students have all the answers to the history and format of what their group need accomplish. The project by this point almost teaches itself.

For several years this project was done with “1.0 technology” with the teacher providing the project, materials, and then students collaborating offline. Then it moved to “2.0 technology” with students having their collaborations transparent and online; you can view those student collaborative efforts on this project here:

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

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