Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Out of all the historical content I have shared with students over the years the content that I find most satisfying to share with them is the information and activities I present regarding how our government came to be and how it works.

As citizens we are all about our rights….in fact, these days it seems we all overdose a little about what government should be doing for us. We often forget that an important aspect of being a citizen of the United States involves not just having a laundry list of rights….that list includes responsibilities as well.

YES! There are things that WE….we the people are supposed to do in order for our government to work right.

One of our primary responsibilities as a citizen is not just to know our rights, but to know how our government works….not how we think it works, not how politicians tell us it works, not how the media wants us to perceive how it works, but really KNOW how it works.

A few years ago I was required to not only teach a few social studies classes I was also slated to teach two science classes. It was a change of pace, and I really ended up enjoying overseeing units regarding sound, small machines, and space. I infused each unit with lots of hands-on opportunities including plenty of chances for movement. One of the lessons that I loved the most was where students actually took the job of a planet or other heavenly body and formed a human universe. Anyone visiting our back parking lot that day would have seen total chaos as a group of students whirled around another student in the middle of the group as he moved his arms to mimic radiating the light of the sun out towards Earth and beyond. Every planet-person revolved around the sun and every planet had a moon or moons revolving around it as well while some students observed the action. Then of course, we had fruit basket turn over as some students came out of the mix to observe or changed jobs to get a different perspective.

We created a parallel universe….a model….so students could experience a little part of it.

My handy on-line dictionary tells me that the word parallel can mean anything having the same direction, course, nature, or tendency….it can be something identical or similar in nature.
I have come to find that parallels in content delivery are key to provide those hands-on opportunities that students need to experience content and to develop a true grasp of the concepts we are attempting to teach.

So, I’ve often thought how wonderful it would be if I could develop a parallel-type government project to help students grasp American government, but how to do it? How to manage it?… and basically as the adult in the room… to control it?

Well, great things come to those who wait. I’ve come across a wonderful little book titled Parallel.


Of course, I’m looking for a parallel activity, so what else would it be????

Parallel is a book written by an author from my neck of the woods by the name of RaeMichael. It is a book of fiction regarding a group of college students who are handed an extra credit project by their political science professor.

The group decides to set up a parallel government of the United States using the U.S. Constitution as their guide. Imagine that!

As the project….named the “New” United States of America….begins the first order of business for “Congress” is to pass a resolution to Reaffirm the Superiority of the Constitution requiring all laws and resolutions must be reconciled with the U.S. Constitution prior to consideration. Other actions of the “New” United States of America include holding politicians accountable for the promises they make, and campaign reform and the lobby process are also addressed.

I’m excited about the book because I can see the value of using it with upper elementary, middle, and high school students to interject another source into a teaching unit for government. I can see myself using the fictional book as a read aloud to serve as a springboard to ask students to set up a similar experiment…..allowing students to set up their own living, breathing, working “new” American government. Parallel provides opportunities for analysis and great pro/con discussions regarding such innovations in government as banning all lawyers from political service….yes, I know….a highly controversial subject.

The preview blurb on the back of the book advises the parallel government project was meant to be small….a small manageable version…[it] seemed the right thing to do. But what they didn’t understand was, government is never small nor manageable, and is often not the right thing to do.

Rightly so….government is meant to do some things while it is also meant to stay out of other areas. This book takes an honest look at all aspects of government, and I recommend it highly.

You can visit the author’s website and purchase the book here.


Dan Edwards said...

Sounds like an interesting book.

You staying Dry ?

EHT said...

It is a pretty good book, and it would make a good read aloud. Lots of content points to discuss.

Yes, we are dry and have been through this deluge. I actually live in of the hardest hit areas. For awhile we were an island unto ourselves. No way in or out practically. Some of my friends have lost their homes though. School is out again tomorrow....early Fall break, I guess.

Thanks for asking, sweetie.:)

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