Foreign Born In the USA

As of the last U.S. census what percentage of Americans were foreign born*?

*(Not U.S. citizens at birth)

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Is this a good thing?

  3. Be sure to read all the way to the end to see a hilarious animal extension!

  4. What story does this tell about the change in the foreign born population in America over time?

  5. What is one cause of that change?

  6. What is one consequence of that change?

  7. What story does this data tell about where the United States is today?

  8. Is this the largest percent of foreign born Americans ever?

  9. What percent of the signers of the U.S. Constitution were born citizens of the United States?**

  10. Who was the first American president who was born an American citizen?***

  11. What might an American Indian say to an American ho was concerned about the percent of people living in this land who were not citizens at birth?

  12. In 2016, were more more foreign born Americans Hispanic or Asian?****

  13. If you asked the average American to guess the percent of foreign born citizens what would they guess?

  14. If you asked the average Donald Trump voter to guess the percent of foreign born citizens what would they guess?

  15. What would a typical American liberal and a typical American conservative say about the percentage of Americans who are foreign born?

  16. What is one current policy of the Trump administration that can be connected to this data.

  17. What percent of foreign born Americans are unauthorized immigrants?****

  18. Here’s what the U.S. constitution says about the U.S. census. “ The "Census clause" or sometimes called the "Enumeration clause" is found in Article I, 1, § 2, cl. 3 of Constitution.  After taking into account the removal and additions that have occurred with later amendments, that clause reads as follows:  "Representatives . . . shall be apportioned among the several States . . . according to their respective Numbers . . . . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."  Further, Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment states that "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed."   

    The Trump administration wants to add a question to the 2020 U.S. census asking about citizenship status. Why do you think they are doing this?

  19. What do you think will be one effect of this question?

  20. If you were an undocumented alien do you think that would make you more likely or less likely to complete the census?

  21. Do you think the census should count the number of people in the United States?

  22. Do you approve of having a citizenship question on the census?

  23. How does the census connect to federalism?


***Martin Van Buren (1782-1862) was the first president to be born a citizen of the United States and not a British subject.

Learning Extension

To learn more about the American foreign born population read the U.S. census report. And check out these fantastic interactive resources from the Pew Research Center on the foreign born population!

Action Extension

Find a foreign born American in person or online and ask them to tell you how being foreign born impacts their political views. Share what you learned in class or online.

Visual Extension****

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Hilarious Animal Extension!

Add a caption to the photograph in the comment section below.

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Taxation with Underrepresentation

WhiTe males make up 36% of American voters. What percent of candidates do they make up?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does this tell?

  3. Explain why that is?
    What is one consequence of this?
    What is the most surprising content in this data?

  4. What are some of the biggest hurdles to Black women being represented in politics?

  5. Does it matter if politicians look like the people they represent?

  6. If you said no, are you a white male?

  7. What question do you have about this data?
    Is this data good news?

  8. If so, for whom is it good news?

  9. Who is more misrepresented, Black women or White men?

  10. How different do you think these statistics were 50 years ago?

  11. And how different do you think they will be in 50 years?

  12. What groups, not included in this data, do you imagine are even more misrepresented than Black women or White men?

  13. If we changed this chart to reflect representation in the Presidency, what would the chart look like?

  14. Is it good luck to end on question #13?

Learning Extension

Watch the video: Claiming seats at the table: Black women’s electoral strength in an era of fractured politics

Action Extension

Share this data with ten people and ask them if they think that the data matters. Record their race and gender and ask them to examine how much their race and gender impacted their response. Share their responses in class or online.

Ridiculously Cute Furry Australian Animal named QUOKKA Extension

 QUOKKAS are real!

QUOKKAS are real!

Rich Congress, Poor Democracy

AP U.S. Government and Politics

How does the Net Worth of the Average member of the U.S. Congress compare to the Net Worth of the Average American?

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  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the big story this data tells?

  3. Is this good news?

  4. What is one consequence of such a Disparity in wealth between congress and the average American?

  5. What are three hurdles to winning a congressional election for candidates who are poor?

  6. How do you think the wealth of Congress impacts the policy that Congress makes? 

  7. Explain how The current president’s wealth (billionaire) impacts how he governs?

  8. The net worth of the average American is $68,828. Why do you think that is so much lower than Congress?

  9. What has happened to the net worth of Congress since 2007?

  10. What has happened to the net worth of the Average American since 2007?

  11. What do you think the net worth of the average Congressperson and of the average American was 50 years ago?

  12. Why do you think the Senate is so much wealthier than the house?*

  13. What do you think the Framers (all white, all male, almost all rich) would have thought about the disparity between the wealth of Americans and their congress?

  14. What opinions would the typical American liberal and conservative have about this data?

  15. Are you surprised that Democratic House members are richer than Republican House members?*

  16. How do your Senators and Representatives stack up on the wealth list?

  17. What most surprises you about this data?

  18. What would you wish that this data looked like?

  19. Here is an argument: The american dream is to be wealthy. Congress is made up of people who have fulfilled the American dream. The winners should be the leaders. Why would we elect poor people (the ones who have lost)? React to this argument:

  20. Make one counterclaim to this argument.

Learning Extension

Watch this video on the richest members of the 115th Congress. And here are some cool charts from Congressional Quarterly about Congressional wealth, including this one where the members of Congress are ranked by wealth.

Action Extension

Share the congressional wealth chart on social media asking friends to comment. Share the best comments in class or online.

Visual Extension

  AP US Government and Politics

AP US Government and Politics

Quokka Extension

  Yes they are real!

Yes they are real!


Let's Talk POTUS

At what grade level does President Trump speak?*

*The Flesch-Kincaid scale was developed in 1975 for the U.S. Navy to assess the relative difficulty of training manuals. A recent analysis assessed the first 30,000 words each president spoke in office, and ranked them on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level scale and more than two dozen other common tests analyzing English-language difficulty levels.

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the data tell?

  3. How surprised are you by this information?

  4. Explain whether this is good news.

  5. How would a typical Republican or Democrat react to the fact that President Trump has by far the lowest level vocabulary of any of the past 15 presidents.

  6. At what grade-level does the average American speak?*

  7. At what grade-level do you think you speak?

  8. The highest level speaker on the entire list of presidents is Herbert Hoover, who is often ranked as one of the worst presidents ever. Harry Truman, on the other hand, often ranked as one of the best presidents ever, spoke at less than a 6th grade-level. Does it really matter how a president speaks?

  9. Apart from his vocabulary level, explain whether you would consider President Trump to be a good communicator.

  10. Explain how much a president’s ability to communicate impacts their likelihood of achieving their goals.

  11. How much do you think social media impacts the way a president communicates?

  12. Do you think that President Trump would be happy to know about his vocabulary level?

  13. Do you think that President Trump’s base is upset about the low level of his vocabulary?

  14. Who are some members of the president’s team and the White House staff who are responsible for the way a president speaks and communicates?

  15. At what grade level do you think Plaid Shirt Guy speaks? *(Hint, he’s in high school).

    *The average American speaks at an 8th to 9th grade-level.


Learning Extension

Read the Newsweek article about presidential communication.

Action Extension

Watch a video clip on President Trump reading any speech, then read any one of President Trump’s tweets. Compare the vocabulary-level of the two and consider whether high vocabulary level makes communication more powerful. Share your thoughts online or in class.



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Just Vote No

What portion of 2016 Republican voters saw their vote as FOR Trump, and how many saw it as AGAINST Clinton?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the chart tell about the 2016 election?

  3. Why do you think that is?

  4. Let’s call 2016 a negative election. What are two consequences of negative elections?

  5. Let’s say a POTUS wins mostly because their supporters voted AGAINST someone instead of FOR them. What must they do to maintain their voters’ support?

  6. How much of a mandate do these “negative winners” have?

  7. How does being a “negative winner” impact their ability to govern?

  8. Explain the connection between negative voting and POTUS Trump’s current approval rating (38% according to Gallup)?

  9. What do you think dating or marriage would be like if most people chose their partner based less on what they liked about them than on what they hated about other people?

  10. Describe the change in voter motivation between the 2008 election and the 2016 election.

  11. Why do you think that is?

  12. How much did it have to do with the candidates themselves?

  13. Based on demographics, what generalizations can we make about negative voters.

  14. Explain whether your 2016 vote (or support, if you weren’t eligible to vote) more FOR or more AGAINST.

  15. Donald Trump isn’t running for president in 2018, although in a way he is. In the midterm elections, how much will people be thinking about TRUMP when they decide who to vote for in Congressional elections?

  16. Why do you think that is?

  17. Do you think this will lead Democrats to win a majority of the US House?

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Learning Extension

Read the Pew Article about the consequences of negative voting in 2016.

Action Extension

Talk to people you know and ask them whether their 2016 vote (or support, if they weren’t eligible to vote) was more FOR or more AGAINST. Share your results in class or online.

Plaid Shirt Guy Extension

This guy is in high school!

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