Driving Question

How do countries balance sovereignty and globalization?
What internal factors within a country will most influence that decision-making process?

This is an introductory unit for AP Comparative Government and Politics.  It is designed to give students short introductions to the case study countries and ask them to think about how different forces of globalization will impact countries differently.  The culminating project will be a round table discussion where member states seek to come to agreements on three big issues and the teacher assesses for how closely the student is able to articulate the unique needs of their country.

Unit Title:

Globalization Round Table

For Students:

12th Grade

Length:

2 Weeks

Course:

AP Comparative Government

Unit Launch

Students are introduced to the main ideas of the challenge and then asked to complete two main tasks:

  1. Create a cover page for the country that can be used by the class during future units.
  2. Represent their country in a round table about a particular issue of globalization.
    1. Will you sign a new UN Convention on Terrorism? If you sign, you agree to commit troops (in relative size to your country and its military) to an international peace-keeping force if a member nation violates the terms of the treaty, and honor economic sanctions against that country.
    2. Will you be part of the largest free-trade agreement yet to be assembled?
    3. Google wants to bring/update a version of their search engine to your country that will allow instant translation, include tweets and public Facebook statuses in search results and provide a reading list of international news publications. The would like to update their maps by providing street view images for your entire country. To what degree will you allow Google to access your citizens and your land?

Introductory Project Cycle

Midpoint Check

After students have created their cover page they introduce their country to the class.  The teacher then leads a reflection discussion about the factors that are going to most heavily influence decision making in each area of policy covered by the round table.

Culminating Experience

Students participate in a roundtable discussion by question.  This year we asked a teaching candidate to serve as the representative from Google for the third question.

Differentiation (e.g. Special Education, English Language Learners)

Some students were assisted by a modified reading and sentence stems that allowed them to make an opening statement in discussions.

As this was an introductory unit, we asked students to self-assess in a number of areas including:

  1. teamwork
  2. level of understanding about their country
  3. level of understanding about the globalization pressures evidenced by the question that they led
  4. level of understanding of the terms sovereignty and globalization and why those matter in a comparative politics class.

Final product example (from OneNote class notebook): China

At the end of the mini-unit students will take their first AP-style free response question.

Teacher Reflection

Here’s what I really enjoy about this unit:

I like that we are putting students into the case study countries quickly and confronting them with current matters of policy right away.

Here’s what I’m still working on making better about this unit:

It would be great if this unit was really about building skills in teaming and interpretation of text for the themes of a comparative course.  Maybe because it was our first time, it felt like we were too focused on content that they were going to get later anyway.

Student Reflection

Here’s what I really enjoy about this unit:

I was excited about the case studies so I was happy to start learning about them right away.  I also didn’t really know very much about globalization so that was fun.

Here’s how this unit could help me learn more effectively:

It was so fast! It felt like we had just gotten a handle on our country and were now expected to represent them and I don’t feel like I had enough information to do that. More time!

Outside Expert Reflection

Here’s how this unit connects really well to my work:

Here’s where I think there are opportunities for growth:

Authentic Problem

These policy issues are real challenges that governments face and the tension between being a global player and maintaining your sovereignty is one that policy makers struggle with in a variety of ways.  We hoped by giving students a grounding in these ideas we could get them thinking from a policy and politics perspective right away, a critical distinction to this course over a history course.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

Letting students identify the policies, but that’s hard to do without a summer assignment to give them some background.

Authentic Assessment

The roundtables gave us a chance to see the thinking of each student articulated publicly.  Since so much of the work of government is being able to communicate your viewpoint to outside audiences this fits with that way of working.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

Bringing in more expertise beyond the teacher.

Student Voice

Students could choose the country they were most excited about studying and within that they could choose the question they wanted to lead.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

This is a huge area of growth but in the beginning of the year, as the very first unit, it’s challenging to turn this over to the students all the way.  I think this is a good challenge for us to consider going forward.

Expertise

We ask students to develop expertise and use it to come to an agreement on the three issues of globalization.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

Bringing in outside folks.  That would be very beneficial to the final presentations.

Culturally Responsive Instruction

We wanted to have the students see each case study as more than their stereotyped idea of what the country was and to understand how decisions are made on a global stage.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

We did not structure in students sharing their expertise of their home country which is too bad as we had almost all of them represented in class.  That’s a missed opportunity.

Collaboration

Students are collaborating on both parts of the project but right now it’s pretty easy to split it up and not really work together.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

How to help students need each other to complete the final parts without it being a game of gotcha.  How to work with students who are already behind on helping their group get in a place where they can meaningfully contribute.

Academic Discourse

We got them using some big idea concepts right away so they now have a frame to discuss policy decisions in countries by using the frame of sovereignty vs. globalization.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

One idea would be to have each group identify a concept central to their country and teach the class.

From the AP Comparative Government Course Guide; these were introduced and will be reinforced in subsequent units:

  1. Introduction to the Comparative Method
    1. Purpose and methods of comparison and classification
    2. Concepts (state, nation, regime, government
    3. Process and policy (what is politics, purpose of government, what are political science and comparative politics, common policy changes)
  2. Public Policy
    1. Common Policy Issues
      1. Economic Performance
      2. Civil Liberties, rights and freedoms
      3. Economic Development
    2. Factors influencing public policy-making and implementation
      1. Domestic
      2. International

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2e Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2f Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).

About the Authors

Katie Piper and Adrienne Curtis Dickinson


The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.