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This role-playing Meeting of the Minds overlap debate of the Progressive Era and U.S. Imperialism has been my single most engaging and effective APUSH activity.
In this debate, student choose from a list of over 25 historical figure who had both perspectives in the Progressive Era and also in the concurrent Imperialist Era (Ex. Teddy Roosevelt = strong progressive and imperialist). Students participate in 3 rounds which force them to see the overlap and deeper complexities between the Gilded Age/Progressive Era and Imperialism. In an included 3rd round (synthesis), students are challenged on APUSH thinking skills of synthesis comparison by extending arguments about imperialism into Period 9 (1980-Present) by debating the Bush Doctrine/Iraq War.
Format: Student-led, as several student judges role play U.S. Senators of the early 1900s and craft questions for each organized round.
Round 1: (Progressive Era) What is wrong with America in 1911? U.S. Senate has $50 million dollars appropriated in the 1911 federal budget to put towards fixing the biggest problem plaguing America. Progressives must convince Congress their issue deserves the money during an open forum debate against business leaders (Morgan, Rockefeller, etc.) who oppose reform.
Round 2: (Imperialism): Should America have annexed the Philippines and continue to pursue an imperialist future?
Round 3: Synthesis Round (Period 9) - Bush Doctrine/Iraq War intervention - Should America have entered the Iraq War and passed the Patriot Act?
This role-playing debate has been specially designed around the AP redesign topics. My students did an outstanding job on the 2017-18 AP Exam DBQ on Imperialism because they could reflect back to their Meeting of the Minds roles. Be prepared to spend upwards of two classes researching and debating. For me, this has been the most successful and deepest intellectual activity to ever take place in my classroom. It helps that students love the role-playing perspective aspect!
Everything is included: PowerPoint with teacher/student directions, organized debate rounds, and questions; 25 historical figures sign-up sheet; direction/rubric sheet; Student prep sheet (Word and Google Doc versions); and Imperialism primary source arguments and research sources.