HM - April 2017 - Backstory: Tyrannophobia

Classroom Applications

Teacher Resource Set

by Kristy Brugar

Procedures—Part 1 

Step 1:  To engage students’ prior knowledge, ask students to brainstorm what they know/remember/understand about the American presidency. After a few minutes, have students share their ideas as a large group, recording key ideas on the whiteboard. 

Step 2:  Defining Terms-                 
President Tyrant 

Step 3:  Ask students to discuss in small groups, “In what ways might a president be a tyrant?”  “Which presidents might be or have been perceived as tyrants?  Why?” 

Step 4:  Remind students that these assertions about tyranny should be based on evidence so this may be a good point to re-visit such evidence. As a whole group or individually, read Article II, U.S. Constitution.   
Step 5:  Following the reading, students synthesize the powers of the president.  Be explicit with students that they are not simply listing the powers identified in Article II. Rather, they are explaining the breadth and depth of powers. The important understanding to take away is that the powers of the president are limited. See Handout 1. 
Step 6:  Using a “flipped classroom” approach, students will listen to Backstory segmen, Tyrannophobia: The Uses and Abuses of Executive Power. As students listen to this podcast, they should keep the guiding questions for this lesson in mind. See Handout 2. 
In what ways, if any, can presidents over-reach their power? 
Over the course of U.S. history, in what ways has presidential power increased?  In what ways has it decreased? 

Note: In a flipped classroom, lecture/direct instruction is completed at home through a video or audio source, and traditional homework” is completed in class while working with classmates and the teacher. 

Step 7:  After listening to the podcast, students will write down/record a 3-2-1. See Handout 3.
Each student will record three things they know about the American presidency as a result of this podcast; two things they are wondering/curious about (questions); and one thing they found interesting.  These questions can be concrete (e.g., when, who) or more open- ended (e.g. why, how) depending on the students.

Procedures—Part 2

Step 1:  Begin class with students’ 3-2-1 assignments. First, ask students to share the three things they know with three different classmates. Second, record the things students are wondering about on the whiteboard or bulletin board. Document these ideas so they can be easily referenced throughout the lesson. Third, in a whole group discuss the questions students have. Ideally, students will be able to answer one another’s questions.

Step 2:  Reflect on the podcast by asking students, “Think about what we read yesterday about the powers of the president and the podcast you listened to for homework.  Do you think that any or all of the presidents discussed over-stepped their authority?  If so, who and in what ways?” After asking a few students to share their responses, have students continue their conversations in small groups – modeled after the podcast conversation.

Step 3:  Tell your students, “Since you have listened and discussed several presidents, you are now going to investigate one modern president and his actions in order to draw conclusions about his use or abuse of power. In other words, you will be developing a case study.” What is a case study? A case study is an in-depth examination of a person, organization, or action at a particular time/place in history. Students will be writing a case study in order to explore the actions of one president. Students will be assigned a president from the following: George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush.

Step 4:  Pre-Writing. Students explore presidential materials via:

As students explore these materials, they should be thinking about the key events and presidential actions during the assigned administration. Do/did those presidential actions adhere to the powers of the presidency?

Step 1:  Engage students in drafting, revising, and editing strategies as they compose their case studies.

Step 2:  Publishing: This stage of the writing process may be demonstrated in a number of ways.
Two possible suggestions: small groups of students create podcasts in which each reads his/her paper (or a portion of it) and engages in a conversation about the demonstration of presidential powers across the case studies.



All Standards and Citations

All Handouts