Make Perception Great Again

AP U.S. Government and Politics

The average American thinks that over 40% of the population is foreign born. What percentage of the current U.S. population is actually foreign born? 

AP US Government and Politics

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does this stupid chart tell?

  3. How accurate is the average American's prediction?

  4. What are two reasons that explain such a big difference between reality and perception regarding immigrants?

  5. So???? What is a consequence of this difference between reality and perception?

  6. If the average American knew that about 10% of our population was foreign born, what is one government policy that might change?

  7. If the average American knew that about 10% of our population was foreign born, how do you think public opinion towards the Trump administration might change?

  8. Above all, what institutions are responsible for creating U.S. immigration policy?

  9. Above all, what institutions are responsible for enforcing U.S. immigration policy?

  10. How does American perception of immigration compare to that of other countries?

  11. What do you think accounts for this difference?

  12. What are some other policy areas where American perception and reality are equally divergent?

  13. What do you think Donald Trump would have to say about this information?

  14. Why do you think that about 10% of our population is foreign born, and how do you think this compares to U.S. historical levels of immigration?

  15. How do you think demographics and party affiliation impact the perception of foreign born population?

  16. Imagine that you wanted to reduce the % of foreign born population in the U.S. What is one thing the government could do?

Learning Extension

Listen to this groovy NPR report: How America's Idea of Illegal Immigration Doesn't Always Match Reality

Action Extension

Contact your Congressperson and share your opinion about the percentage of U.S. population that is foreign born, and one suggestion of what they could do about it.

Visual Learning Extension

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Precious animal in a top hat and monocle extension

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The ________ Branches of Government

AP Government and Politics

What portion of Americans can correctly identify the three branches of government?

  1. How wildly inaccurate was your prediction?

  2. How sad is that information, tho?

  3. If you knew a person who could not name the three branches of government would you let them still be your friend? And what would you think of them?

  4. 1/3 of all the Americans surveyed could not name a single branch. WHAT THE WHAT?

  5. Can you name all three branches?

  6. Can you name all four? (j/k)

  7. What is the big story this data tells?

  8. If you had to list the top causes that explain the results of this survey what would you list as the top three:

  9. What is one consequence of this level of knowledge of the U.S. Government?

  10. If the average Democrat and Republican were shown the information above and asked to comment on it, how different would their responses be?

  11. Is this information good news for Donald Trump or bad news?

  12. Is there any connection between this information and the 2016 election? Share your answer to this question in the comments section below!

  13. Hey, smarty pants. Why do we have three branches of government anyway?

  14. In Federalist No. 51 (1788), James Madison explains and defends the checks and balances system in the Constitution. Each branch of government is framed so that its power checks the power of the other two branches; additionally, each branch of government is dependent on the people, who are the source of legitimate authority. In Fed. 51, Madison calls the people, “the fountain of authority.” If the vast majority of the people can’t even name the three branches of government should they still be the fountain of authority?

  15. Do you imagine that Americans were any better at naming the three branches back in the 18th century when George Washington was president?

  16. Is it actually important to know the kind of information that you could look up on any smart phone in about 5 seconds?

  17. How different do you think the results of this survey will be in 20 years?

  18. Who do you think would do better at identifying the three branches of government, Justin Bieber (Canadian), the actor who plays Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) in the Harry Potter Movies (English), PewDiePie (Swedish), or the average 10th grader (American) at your school? Explain your answer.

  19. Why do you think that 1% of the people who took this survey “refused” to answer? were they insulted by how easy the survey was? What does “refused” even mean?

  20. Are you depressed about this? I am. Let's talk. Tell me how you feel:

  21. What are some other important facts about our government that you imagine would also be unknown to many Americans?

  22. Any foreign born American who wants to become a citizen will have to pass a citizenship test where they will have to know the answer to this kind of question. Do you think that this kind of questions should be required for citizenship?

  23. Claim: in order to vote any American citizen should have to prove that they can name the three branches of government and answer other important questions about the U.S. Government. Respond to this claim.

  24. List one consequence of requiring a citizenship style test before people are allowed to vote.

  25. Congratulations, you get to title the chart above. What would you name it?

  26. Which of the charts below* is the most depressing?

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

**37%

Learning Extension

Read the Annenberg Public Policy report on this survey and weep.

Action Extension (do one of the following)

1-Take a mini-practice citizenship test online and share your results in class or online.

2-Ask ten people to name the three branches of government and share your results in class or online.

* Bonus Smarts Charts

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Okay, Mr. 3% who can name Freedom to petition! Happy now?

Okay, Mr. 3% who can name Freedom to petition! Happy now?

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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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Happy?

What is the happiest country in the world?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the takeaway message of this chart?

  3. What surprised you about this chart?

  4. How different do you think this chart will be in 100 years?

  5. Do you think that these kinds of rankings matter?

  6. Of all the things that could be ranked, what would you want your country to be best at?

  7. Are there any patterns in the sorts of countries that ranked among the happiest?

  8. Are there any kinds of countries that are absent from the top of the rankings?

  9. How did your country do on this chart and why do you think that is?

  10. The US came in as the 15th happiest country. In the comments section below, speculate on why we ranked 15th.


Action Extension

Interview 10 people and ask them to speculate on how the US ranks in the World Happiness Report. Show them the actual rankings and ask them to share their reaction with you and on social media.


Learning Extension

Read more about the 2015 World Happiness Report


By the way, the least "happy" — countries include Togo, Burundi, Syria, Benin and Rwanda.