The culminating activity for the We the People: The Citizen & The Constitution program is a simulated congressional hearing in which students “testify” in front of a panel of judges acting as members of Congress. In addition to the simulated congressional hearings, some teachers, schools and districts choose to participate in the State and National Finals or the National Invitational. These additional learning opportunities can be exciting to many students and serve to further their understanding of the constitution and government.
During the simulated hearings, students have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles through their testimony in front of a panel of judges. The entire class, working in cooperative teams, prepares and presents statements before a panel of community representatives acting as a congressional committee. Students then answer follow-up questions posed by the committee members. They will have the opportunity to evaluate, take and defend their position on a variety of historical and contemporary issues. In addition to the hands on learning experience the hearings offer, they also serve as an effective way for teachers to evaluate their student’s grasp of the material.
The MCSS legislative day will take place at the Massachusetts State House in Boston, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.
Special thanks to Anne Ziaja and Rita Noonan from the Massachusetts State Senate Office of Education and Civic Engagement the for helping to arrange this day for us.
Tentative Itinerary for Wednesday, March 29, 2017:
Pre-Congressional Visit Briefing, 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Learn the best strategies to become an effective advocate for your profession. Gain an understanding of how to connect your talking points to the local, state, and national issues that our state leaders care about and the key aspects to developing ongoing relationships that will make you a trusted source of information and feedback regarding the effect of national and state policies on local issues.
State House Appointments, 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
After the morning orientation, participants will head out to meetings with their members of the Massachusetts General Court. Participants must schedule appointments directly with their State Senators’ or Representatives’ office in advance. Participants will receive additional information on how to prepare talking points and making appointments in the weeks before MCSS Legislative Day.
Legislative Day Debriefing, 3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Join your colleagues in sharing your experiences from your State House visit and discuss strategies for next steps and information dissemination.
An online sign-up sheet will be made available through the Mass Council website (under Advocacy page). We will promote the legislative day through our weekly e-blasts and through communications from MCSS Executive Board and general members.
The Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies (MCSS) will present its second annual summer content institute for K-12 social studies teachers from July 31, 2017 to August 5, 2017. The central focus of the summer content institute is on Article III of the U.S. Constitution—the federal Judiciary. Constitution scholar Linda R. Monk (2003) describes Article III of the U.S. Constitution as “the shortest, and least specific, of the constitutional provisions establishing the three branches of government” (p. 90).
Some of the key objectives of the summer content institute include: examining long-lasting principles of the federal judiciary including, but not limited to, judicial review, judicial restraint, judicial activism, and strict construction versus loose construction; exploring how the federal judiciary have affected the relationship between the federal government and the states and the people; and analyzing the Supreme Court’s interpretations of the U.S. Constitution throughout the course of American history. In this content institute teachers will study the historical origins and developments of the federal judiciary by examining a variety of primary source materials including, but not limited to, Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 78, Judiciary Act of 1789 and of 1801, Marbury v. Madison (1803), McCulloch v. Maryland (1819). Teachers will also look at how the rulings or actions of the Supreme Court may have led to constitutional amendments, and how constitutional amendments have affected the Supreme Court in interpreting the U.S. Constitution and future rulings. Teacher participants will also examine and assess consequential rulings including but not limited to Dred Scott v. Sanford, Plessy v. Ferguson, Korematsu v. United States, The Slaughterhouse Cases, Obergefell v. Hodges, and Citizens United v. FEC.
Teachers will explore tenures of some influential and consequential Supreme Court Chief Justices including John Jay, John Marshall, Roger Taney, Charles Hughes, Earl Warren, and William Rehnquist. Teachers will also learn about justices who have changed the socio-political dynamics of the Supreme Court such Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, and Sonia Sotomayor, as well as some from Massachusetts such as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Joseph Story, William Henry Moody, Louis Brandeis, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan.
Partnerships: MCSS will be partnering, once again, with Massachusetts Center for Civic Education (MACCE) and James Madison Legacy Project (JMLP) and offer this professional development opportunity to its cohort members and provide historical content to its program mission and objectives for teaching and learning. MCSS is also seeking to build partnerships with Suffolk University (SU), University of Massachusetts-Boston (UMB), Boston Public Schools, New England History Teachers Association (NEHTA), American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Teacher Law School program, and Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS).
If you are interested in registering early (no payment needed at this time), please click on the following link and fill out the form: https://goo.gl/forms/bXHNJCWv93xegSvl2.
Registration costs TBA.
More details and registration will be available in late January 2017.