Current Events American Government Class

I have had an idea brewing in my head for a few weeks. I want to get my plan written down to get some feedback from my PLN.

I teach social studies at a small alternative high school. Since we do not have a particular curriculum that I must follow I have lots of leeway to teach pretty much anything that fits within the standards. I have hit the U.S. History standards hard so I will shift back to government for the last quarter of the year.

Our quarters are about 9 weeks long. I was thinking about dividing the fourth quarter into approximately three parts. Each three-week period would focus on one of the different branches of government. The course would be more of a current events class. Students would be responsible for gathering news stories to discuss.

I would create a page for each branch of government on the class wiki. The wiki would serve as a place for activities as well as links that the students come up with. Students would use Google Reader to subscribe to different news sites. I would also have them set up a Twitter account and follow different government officials, agencies, and news networks. They would follow each other as well.

We would decide which stories we would like to discuss further. My classes are very small (7-10 per class) which can hamper discussions. I’d have students continue their discussions on either the class blog or the class Ning. I am leaning toward the Ning because I think it is a good platform to share other things such as videos and images.

During the course of the quarter students would create a digital story detailing one current event that they are interested in. (War in Iraq, recession, Global Warming, etc) One requirement would be to explain how each of the three branches of government plays a role in the problem that they picked. They would be given multiple options for how to present their final project.

Thoughts? Suggestions?