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The Federal Government and Policing the Police

Lesson Plan Author(s): 
Matt Ryan and Wes Ewing
Does the United States have the tools to police the police?
Teaching Area: 
Social Studies
American Government 6
Grade Level: 
9th to 12th Grades
Teaching Level: 
Secondary Childhood
Origins Item(s): 

This lesson plan deals with the concept of federalism, specifically looking at Ohio’s American Government Standard Six. The Origins article deals with the nature of Federalism when it comes to controlling police in the United States and some of the more controversial roles that they played and continue to play in the area of civil rights. This article highlights the difficult nature of government control over police in a federal system. After introducing the Origins article to students, the lesson provides students with a brief review of the concept of Federalism and then has the students take part in a simulation. This simulation allows students to experience the difficulties finding a unified approach to policing the police. In this simulation, students will work in groups to adapt regional understandings of what police should look like and then interact with a President who will attempt to direct national policy around a hot-button issue like police brutality. The class will then discuss different approaches to this issue and attempt to come to consensus about how state and federal governments interact around this important topic. The last part of class includes the use of a classroom technology called “Plickers” to enhance the learning experience and provide interactive and instantaneous feedback to students as they answer multiple-choice questions to wrap up the lesson. The final formative assessment asks the students to bring together the day’s lesson by asking them to once again consider the essential question: Does the United States have the tools to police the police?

Instructional Strategies:
Government Simulation Game

Lesson Materials:

Key Words: 
Police, Federalism, Rights