Phase III 
Scenario ~ How did Mr. Fischer do it?




Mr. Fred Fischer, Grade 12

Name of Unit:

Democracy Rocks

Grade Levels:

9, 10, 11, 12

Subject Areas:

Social Studies

Assignment 1...Analysis of Instructional Need
Describe the needs assessment and rationale for your unit of instruction.

In thinking about an analysis of need for my instructional unit, I identified several gaps between "what is and what needs to be" in my social studies classroom by reviewing the ND standards and benchmarks and how our social studies curriculum aligns to the standards. As the social studies representative on the Zerko High School Curriculum Committee I have dedicated hours to reviewing the state standards, district assessments, interviewing former students and parents, and reading highly effective “best practices” data from scientific research. Through this experience we have determined that there are gaps in learning that point to outdated curriculum, ineffective instructional practices, and a lack of emphasis in some academic areas.

During the past three years, I have implemented a project-based unit where students worked in collaborative teams and researched the American political system. The project culminated with the student teams presenting their research and findings to the class. They demonstrated their learning by giving an oral multi-media presentation. One of the assessment tools I reviewed for this analysis was a rubric where the students (from the past three years) and I assessed the teams’ final performances. In combining the data from these assessments, it became clear that the students were generally proficient in understanding the multiple facets of the American political system, but they did not demonstrate how knowledge transferred in an authentic and practical sense to their own school, community and state. For example, they understood the basic political and government structure but lacked the understanding of how this was applied in their personal, daily lives. This gap in learning linked to ND Social Studies Standard #2: Political Institutions: Students understand how political institutions develop and function, most specifically Benchmark 4.2.2 - Know the basic functions that government performs in one’s school, community, state, tribal nation, and nation.

This unit of instruction will allow me the opportunity to implement some teaching and learning strategies that will motivate and engage the students in more innovative instructional practices, one of our district’s School Improvement goals. By having the students involved in inquiry-based and problem-based learning activities to investigate “what they know and what they need to know” about the foundations, operations, and structures of the American political system, they will be more prepared to be an active and responsible citizen in their real world as a student.

Some additional rationale for this unit is to include a high degree of authentic learning, relating to the need to make the learning more real to the students, as the learning objectives align with the ND English/Language Arts Standard: Standard 4: Students engage in the speaking and listening process, Benchmark: 12.4.3. Analyze the audience and adjust message and wording to suit the audience while speaking; Benchmark: 12.4.4. Use critical listening responses such as refutation and commentary, to critique the accuracy of messages

Assignment 2 ... Identify Desired Results

Identify the ND Content Standards for your Unit of Instruction


Content Area

Standard # and Name

Benchmark and Description

S1 Social Studies Standard #2: Political Institutions: Students understand how political institutions develop and function. 12.2.1 - Understand the structures and purposes of governments.


Social Studies

Standard #2: Political Institutions: Students understand how political institutions develop and function.

12.2.2 - Understands the foundations, operations, and structures of the American political system.

What do I want the students to understand long after they leave my classroom?

Students will understand the role of voters and the election process.

What essential questions will guide and focus teaching and learning on this unit?

How does the election process work?

How do campaigns work?

Does your vote really count? 

What  is the Unit Learning Goal(s)?

To become well-informed voters, students in the government class will understand the national presidential election process.

What  are the Unit Learning Objectives?

1. Students will be able to identify the role of the Electoral College in the presidential election by analyzing the data collection from the 1960 presidential election.

2. Students will be able to demonstrate how political parties influence the democratic process.

3. Through research, students will be able to define the funding rules and regulations for the various political campaigns.

4. Students will describe the privilege and the responsibility of participating in the voting process.

5. Students will define the meaning of "voter apathy" and determine the impact that it has on their community.


Assignment 3... Determine Acceptable Evidence (Assessment)

Think about the array of assessment tools that you will incorporate to determine acceptable evidence that will show that students understand this unit. Use the following questions to guide your assessment selections:

What quiz and test items (e.g. simple content-focused questions that require a single, best answer) will provide evidence of understanding?

Quizzes will be used to assess factual recall.

What academic prompts (e.g. open-ended questions or problems that require students to think critically and then to prepare a response / product / performance) will provide evidence of understanding?

Investigation of the topic will begin by students responding to questions about "what do we know now" and "what do we need to know".

What performance tasks and projects (e.g. complex challenges that are authentic, mirror the real world and require a performance or product) will you include that will provide evidence of student understanding?

Students will interview "experts" and use a variety of software products to record and present information.

What other evidence (e.g. observations, work samples, dialogues, student self-assessment) of understanding will you collect?

Rubrics, observations and student produced products will be used.


Assignment 4... Teaching and Learning Strategies and Planning for Improved Student Products

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Identify how one or more of the strategies discussed (inquiry-based, problem-based, and project-based) will help promote higher-order thinking and self-directedness with regard to your student learning objectives. Be Specific!

Students will use a combination of inquiry-based and problem-based learning to investigate what they know and what they need to know about the election process. Through the problem investigation process students gather, record, theme, and discuss/debate the question "Would the election process change if the president was elected by popular vote?" Project-based learning will help students to design and develop a survey that will be used to survey the community on voter apathy. Students will then develop a product that best summarizes the surveyed information to their legislators.

Planning for Improved Student Products

Student-learning activities and the resulting end products play a vital role toward increasing student achievement. An end product is generally the driving force and often dictates how the project is organized in an engaged learning activity. The production of the product requires specific content skills and the entire process is authentic, mirroring the real world. The process and the end product are both of critical importance. One cannot happen successfully without the other. You now have the ability to examine your student products and identify the types of instructional practices, learning uses, and student performances that are in greatest need of improvement in order to meet your Phase III building level goals.


Assignment 5... Developing Student Learning Activities

Standard Identifier

Student Learning Activities

Technology Integration Tools

ND Library / Technology Literacy Standards


Learning Activity 1 



S1 Standard #2: Political Institutions: Students understand how political institutions develop and function.

Students engage in a verbal discussion regarding what they know and need to know about the election process. The reported information is captured using Inspiration.

Computer, Multimedia Projector, and Inspiration Software

#1 Research (12.1.1; 12.1.2; and 12.1.5)


Learning Activity 2


S1 Standard #2: Political Institutions: Students understand how political institutions develop and function.

Students are divided into learning teams and given a spreadsheet containing the popular and Electoral College data from the 1960 presidential election to assist them in their data collection. Formulas at the bottom of the columns calculate the total number of popular votes and Electoral votes for each candidate. By using the Internet and other electronic resources, students obtain the same information for the 2000 election. They add and manipulate this data on the same spreadsheet.

Computer, Internet, Spreadsheet Software

#1 Research (12.1.3, 12.1.5); #2 Using Media/Technology (12.2.2) and #3 Technology Systems (12.3.1)


Learning Activity 3


S1 Standard #2: Political Institutions: Students understand how political institutions develop and function.

Students investigate the question of, "What is the Electoral College?" by working in cooperative learning teams to manipulate voting data using the "U.S. Electoral College Calculator" on the website: The questions they investigate are: "Can you change the data so that Mr. Nixon/Gore wins the election rather than Mr. Kennedy/Bush?" "Can you change the outcome of the election by changing the election results in only one state?" "Two states?" "Three states?" "Can you change the popular vote so that one candidate wins the popular election but loses the Electoral College results?" "Can you change the popular vote so that the same candidate loses the popular vote but wins the election (via the Electoral College results)?" "What is the fewest number of states you can change to have one candidate win the popular vote but lose the election?"

Computer, Internet

#1 Research (12.1.3; 12.1.5), #3 Technology Systems (12.3.1; 12.3.2), and #5 Ethical (12.5.1)


Learning Activity 4


S1 Standard #2: Political Institutions: Students understand how political institutions develop and function.

Students are divided into groups and provided with a list of Congressional leaders and their e-mail addresses. Each group chooses one person to correspond with through the e-mail process. Before the e-mailing begins, the class determines the correct process and protocol for such activities. The initial contact involves introductions and an explanation about their project. After that, the students ask questions.

Computer and Email

#1 Research (12.1.1; 12.1.3; 12.1.4), #4 Collaboration Skills (12.4.1); and #5 Ethical (12.5.1)


Learning Activity 5


S1 Standard #2: Political Institutions: Students understand how political institutions develop and function.

In addressing the question "Would the election process change if the president was elected by popular vote?" each student accesses the online essay entitled "The Electoral College and the American Idea of Democracy" by Martin Diamond, Students read the essay and respond to the instructor via e-mail. Each student keyboards a brief essay supporting or opposing the Electoral College election process.

Computer, Email, Internet

#1 Research (12.1.3; 12.1.4; 12.1.6), #4 Collaboration (12.4.1; 12.4.2; 12.4.3), and #5 Ethical (12.5.1; 12.5.2; 12.5.3)


Learning Activity 6


S1 Standard #2: Political Institutions: Students understand how political institutions develop and function.

Using word processing software and appropriate graphics, the students develop a professional looking survey to determine the level of voting apathy, if any, exists in their community. After compiling the information, they use graphing software to present the results. The students determine how they wish to present the data to the local district legislative representatives. The instructor arranges for legislative representatives to visit the class to discuss their response to the voting history of their district and the kinds of things that can be done to promote citizenship.

Computer and Desktop Publishing/Word Processing Software

#1 Research (12.1.2; 12.1.5; 12.1.6; 12.1.7), #2 Media/Technology (12.2.1; 12.2.2; 12.2.4), and #4 Collaboration (12.4.1)


Assignment 6... Interim Review, Implementation, and Reflection

Congratulations, you have now completed your unit of instruction template and are ready to contact TWT for an Interim Review . Remember, your interim review request must be submitted by October 31st, 2004 to receive full credit on this piece. The TWT instructors will use the Course Assessment Rubric to provide feedback on your unit. You should have been using this rubric as a guide during your development.

Once you request your interim review you are ready to begin implementation. At the completion of your implementation period, be sure to return to this template and document any high points, tips, or lessons learned. Providing this extra insight into your unit is often a very useful piece for other teachers.

High Points, Tips, and Lessons Learned during implementation:

I am very satisfied with the results of this project. The student assessments indicated that the learning activities aligned well with the targeted standard and benchmark (Standard #2 - Political Institutions: Students understand how political institutions develop and function; Benchmark: Understands the foundations, operations, and structures of the American political system.). It was a unit that brought a lot of enthusiasm and gusto to the classroom environment.

The culminating activity really engaged the students. They produced a pamphlet that represented various statistics on voting behaviors as well as profiles on voters for five local districts. The graphs were colorful and professional looking.

Their personal interactions with the district legislative representatives were a highlight for all of us. The legislators saw the voting statistic as valuable and the questions and discussions that followed raised new questions of discovery for the students. Because some of the students will be voting for the first time in the fall, the unit connected to the students’ world in an authentic way. Some of the students volunteered to work for the legislative representatives. Next time, I will contact our state representatives as well. If they can not attend in person, perhaps we can video conference with them.

The cooperative learning strategy in Student Activity #4 did not go very well. I need to more clearly define the criteria in the rubric and better prepare the students for the teamwork process at the very beginning. As it was, it turned out to be more of a group activity than a cooperative learning team. There was little evidence of teamwork!


You may also view Mr. Fischer's unit of instruction in the TWT Unit of Instruction database. 

Login to the PCC site at

Click on the "Go" button in the Unit of Instruction box that directs you to the Search for Unit of Instruction page.

Search for:

Grade 10

Social Studies

Click on the "Democracy Rocks" link to view Mr. Fred Fischer's Unit of Instruction Proposal.


Copyright 2002-2003 Teaching with Technology Initiative