If you've been wanting to teach from primary sources, but haven't been able to find the time to select what's relevant for your students, this is for you!
This is an in-depth and challenging assignment. Students will need to read, and demonstrate their understanding of one of the most important writers during the debates between the Federalists and Antifederalists at the Founding. I've taken several hours to go through the primary source document to excerpt it to less than 3 pages so it'll be more accessible to students. I also highlighted challenging vocab words and defined them in footnote form to make the reading go more smoothly; be aware that it's still a challenging read. The challenge is worth it though, and this will push even your highest-achieving students to work hard!
I assess my students' ability to understand this material in a couple of ways. Firstly, I assign a set of "focus questions" that they must write out the answers for while they read (I collect these for an "effort grade" which I think of as harder than a completion grade but not as punishing as right/wrong grades... this allows me to differentiate among students of various learning levels as well).
Secondly, on the day that the reading is due, we discuss answers to the focus questions for a class period. Generally, I encourage students to voice their agreements or disagreements with the author and/or each other and we've had some very thoughtful discussion and debate as a result.
If you like assignments like these, you should check out my book on the Federalist-Antifederalist Debates. It's got a ton of primary source documents with DBQs for each of them!
KEYWORDS: Constitution, Federalist Papers, Federalist, Antifederalist, Hamilton, Madison, Brutus, Patrick Henry, Political Science, Constitutionalism, Congress, President, Supreme Court, Article I, Article II, Article III, Legislative Branch, Executive Branch, Judicial Branch, Primary Source Reading, DBQ, Document Based Questions, Reading Comprehension, Discussion, Debate