Warming Warning

How much warmer is the planet now than it was in 1980?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the chart tell?

  3. Make a claim that can be substantiated by data in the chart.

  4. Explain whether this story is good news.

  5. What is the most significant cause of the trend in the chart?

  6. What is the most significant consequence of the warming of the planet?

  7. The people who made most of this climate mess (my generation and older) won’t be around to suffer from it as much as your generation (and younger). The people who made most of this climate mess (the wealthy) won’t suffer nearly as much as the poor. What do you think about that?

  8. What is the Trump administration’s position on whether the real information in the chart above is even true?

  9. What is the Trump administration’s position on what we should do about the trend in the chart?

  10. Last year, The Trump administration nominated oil lobbyist David Bernhardt to run the Department of the Interior, whose role it is to “manage and sustain” America’s lands. Describe the confirmation process that Bernhardt will have to go through to become the Secretary of the Interior.

  11. Today is the beginning of the Global Climate Strike. How are you fighting against climate change?

  12. What would you consider the most effective political method to fight climate change?

  13. Given the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives is Democratic controlled, and the U.S. Senate and the Presidency are both Republican controlled, Describe how difficult appointment processes like Bernhardt’s are.

  14. What are some tactics interest groups could take to try to fight A nomination or to generally limit climate change?

  15. List some government department, agencies, or groups that have a role in measuring or regulating climate change.

  16. Explain how the United States’ federal system impacts our ability to tackle climate change.

  17. Donald Trump recently decided to take away California’s ability to have higher emissions standards than the federal government. How will increasing emissioins impact Climate change?

  18. How is that an example of Federalism?

  19. What would a supporter of states’ rights say about trump’s plan to take away California’s regulatory power?

  20. What steps could California take to stop trump’s plan?

  21. Climate change is clearly one of the most significant threats to our future. What about our political system has made it so hard to do anything to solve this problem?

  22. Climate is never mentioned explicitly in the U.S. Constitution (neither were elevators, airplanes, self-driving cars, Intercontinental Ballistic missiles, or ROOMBAs). What clause in the U.S. Constitution empowers the U.S. government to tackle climate change?

  23. How do demographics (age, political party) impact American’s views on climate change? (see chart below)*

  24. Explain why the young and the old have such different opinions about climate change.

  25. Why do you think Americans are more worried about climate change under trump than they were under Obama? (see below)*

  26. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a Green New Deal outline today. In our divided government, how likely is this New Deal to become a reality?

  27. In a democracy, public opinion on an issue (climate change) and public policy on that issue should be aligned - maybe not perfectly, but at least closely. Given that American pubic opinion does not closely match U.S. public policy regarding climate change, what claim would you make about the level of democracy in America?

  28. What is one policy the government could implement to help ameliorate the problem of climate change?

  29. What is the most effective thing you could do to fight climate change?

  30. In general what argument would adherents of the following ideologies make about the role of government in solving the climate change problem:





Visual Extension*


Learning Extension

Plug your city or town into the temperature calculator to see how much your home has warmed. Here’s mine…

Action Extension

In question #19 you were asked to list the best way to fight climate Change. Take one step towards that action now and share your step in class or online.

Our World In Data Extension



Democracy Minus

AP US Government and Politics

Since 1930, what do you think has happened to the percent of Americans who say: it is "essential" to live in a democracy?

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  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. Is this good news or bad news?

  4. What is the big trend you see in this data?

  5. What are two causes of this trend?

  6. What are two consequences of this trend?

  7. Explain whether you believe that it is "essential" to live in a democracy?

  8. How does the U.S. compare to the other countries in this chart?

  9. Based on the trends in this data, how much longer do you think democracy will last in the U.S.?

  10. What questions do you have about this information?

  11. Do you think the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana live in a democracy or a demo crazy?

  12. Explain how this data connects to the 2016 presidential election?

Learning Extension

Read the entire scary article about the de-democratization of the world.

Action Extension

Create a poll on facebook, Twitter, or Poll Everywhere to survey ten of your friends about the following question: Do you believe that it is "essential" to live in a democracy? Share the results in class or online.

Adorable Animal Extension

If you can't handle cuteness you might want to look away!

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Ban the Ban

Between 1994-2004 there was a ban on assault weapons in the United States. What do you think happened to the number of gun massacres and fatalities during the time of the ban?

AP US Government and Politics

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. List one question you have about this data:

  3. What is the big story this data tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is one consequence of the fact that we since 2004 we have not had a ban on assault weapons?

  6. If you were to fill in the chart for gun massacres and fatalities from 2014-2024, what do you imagine the numbers would look like so far?

  7. Based on the data in the charts alone, do you think that an updated assault weapon ban would make America safer?

  8. The Preamble To The U.S. Constitution states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Regarding gun violence, would it be fair to say that our government is insuring tranquility, providing defence (that’s how they spelled defense back in the olden days, yo!), and promoting welfare?

  9. Let’s say you are the POTUS. What actions could the executive branch of the U.S. Government take regarding guns?

  10. What actions could the legislative branch of the U.S. Government take regarding guns?

  11. What could the judicial branch do about those actions?

  12. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In your reading and understanding of this Amendment, can the U.S. government regulate, restrict, or ban guns or ammunition?

  13. In the Supreme Court’s reading and understanding of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and through its ruling in McDonald v. Chicago (2010), can the U.S. government regulate, restrict, or ban guns or ammunition?

  14. In your opinion, explain whether the U.S. government may regulate, restrict, or ban individual ownership of SAMS (surface to air missiles).

  15. One argument about guns goes like this: if you ban assault weapons eventually you will ban shotguns and when you ban shotguns, eventually you will ban handguns, and when you ban handguns eventually people will no longer be free. This is called a slippery-slope argument. What do you think of this specific argument?

  16. Imagine that the Supreme Court invalidated any executive or legislative attempts to limit guns. What legal recourse could be taken to try to ban guns?

  17. Explain whether it is likely that we will Amend the Constitution to repeal the Second Amendment.

  18. Walmart asked customers to refrain from openly carrying firearms in its stores, and also announced it would no longer sell certain ammunition, including bullets for handguns and assault-style rifles – joined a growing list of national chains that have taken action to minimize the presence of firearms at their stores. This decision is legal, but is it a good decision? Make a claim about Walmart’s decision.

  19. Explain whether people who live in countries like Canada, Australia, Japan, or Iceland which have strict gun regulations and dramatically less gun violence than the United States are less free than Americans.*

  20. Do you think that video gaming is a major cause of gun violence in the US?*

*Visual Extension

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Action Extension

Contact your federal legislator or POTUS and share your opinion on an assault weapon ban.


In Debt We Trust


Over the past decade, what has happened to the U.S. government’s public debt?

Statistic: Public debt of the United States from 1990 to 2018* (in billion U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista
  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the current U.S. public debt in total dollars (top chart)?

  3. What is the current U.S. public debt as a percent of GDP (second chart)?

  4. Identify one trend in the top chart?

  5. Explain one cause of that trend.

  6. Describe one consequence of that trend?

  7. Explain whether this trend is good or bad news.

  8. Look at the second chart. Superimpose the names of the US presidents, their years in office, and their political party on this chart. Does a president’s political party impact the rate of debt during their time in office?

  9. Americans have different political ideologies, beliefs, and values. What would the typical American conservative say about a government that spends so much more than it takes in?

  10. To make the debt go down governments need to spend less (budgetary expenditures) than they take in (tax). Imagine you were a politician who wanted to eliminate our debt and advocated spending less (cutting government programs) and taxing more (increasing how much citizens pay the government in taxes). How would your economic goal impact your reelection chances?

  11. Why does American public debt keep rising?

  12. At the same time as the U.S. debt goes up, what is going down?

  13. Write the entire U.S. public debt number out (in other words, turn the trillions into zeroes):

  14. In the entire word there are 7 billion people; 6500 spoken languages, and about 400 billion birds. Name anything in the world that there are more than 22 trillion of:

  15. How does U.S. public debt compare to the rest of the world?*

  16. Who owns the U.S. public debt?*

  17. What role does the U.S. Congress have in the US debt?

  18. What role does the POTUS have in the US debt?

  19. President Trump signed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, reducing U.S. tax revenue. 83 percent of the tax breaks from this bill go to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. How will these huge tax cuts impact the U.S. debt?

  20. Based on your knowledge of American politics, why would the President give such a large tax cut during a time of dramatically increasing American debt?

  21. How old will you be in 2050?

  22. If you were to look at the overall trend of this chart, predict what the chart will look like in 2050.*

Visual Extension*

Statistic: The 20 countries with the highest public debt in 2017 in relation to the gross domestic product (GDP) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista
Statistic: Forecast of the gross federal debt of the United States for fiscal years 2018 to 2029 (in billion U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Learning Extension

Freak yourself out and check out the US debt clock. You’ll love it! Check back in weekly and see how it has grown!

Action Extension

Contact the POTUS or your Congressional Representatives and let your voice be heard about the U.S. debt.

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Democracy Around the World

AP Government and Politics

In a Pew survey of 38 countries* (see list below), of the following ways of governing a country, which is the most popular: Representative Democracy, Direct Democracy, Rule by Experts, Rule by a Strong Leader, Rule by the Military?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is most surprising in this data?

  3. What is the big story this chart tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is one political consequence of this data?

  6. Is this good news?

  7. If we had the data from 1937 (80 years ago, and on the eve of WWII) how do you imagine that data would compare to today's?

  8. How different do you think this data is going to be in 10 years?

  9. What percent of statistics are made up on the spot?

  10. Which of those five types of government would you say is more like the current government of the United States?

  11. Imagine the earth was under attack by Martians (I know they don't exist, bear with me). Explain whether you think that would make earth-people more or less democratic.

  12. American Democrats and Republicans don't always see eye to eye. However, if the typical American Democrat and the typical American Republican took this survey, how much do you believe their answers would differ?

  13. Explain the circumstance in which you believe that democracy is not the best form of government:

  14. Since the rule of POTUS Trump, would you say the US has become more or less democratic (with a small d)?

  15. This data is taken from citizens from different countries, of which some are democratic (Japan), somewhat democratic (Turkey) and non-democratic (Russia). How would the data differ if you only surveyed citizens of democratic countries?**

  16. How would the data differ if you only surveyed citizens of non-democratic countries?**

  17. How would the data differ if you only surveyed American citizens?

  18. How do you think education level impacts the survey data?**

  19. How do you imagine political ideology (left v right) impacts the survey data?**

  20. Explain whether you think that most people living in a non-democratic country are yearning to be free (in other words, do they secretly want to live in a democratic country)?

  21. Are you having a nice day?

  22. If you were in charge, would you allow every single person in the world who wanted to live in a democratic country to move to America?

  23. Imagine a democratic country elected non-experts (I know, it's hard to imagine!!!!) who ran their government very poorly, and then let's imagine a second country that was undemocratic, but ruled by experts who ran a very efficient and good government. Explain which of the two countries you would prefer to live in:

  24. Rank the 38 countries* from the chart below from most to least democratic. Which three would be at the top of the list (most democratic), which three would be at the bottom of the list, and where exactly would the U.S. under our current POTUS rank?

  25. You know, you should thank your teacher for giving you this cool class starter right now. They could be giving you a quiz or a test or a 5 paragraph essay or something like that but instead they are giving you this awesome information. So hey, why don't ya show them some love!

Learning Extension

Read the entire Pew report on the state of democracy.

Action Extension

Think about one thing you could do to make your country more democratic and one thing you could do to make your country less democratic. Share your answer in class or online. And don't forget to thank your teacher!

The 38 Countries*

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Bonus Charts!!!!**

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