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American Government - Laufenberg

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26th Amendment


Why did you choose this topic?

I chose this project mainly because I think this amendment relates to seniors a lot. Most of us are turning 18 and before we know it we are going to be thrown into the hot pot of politics. Also in SLA I think our seniors and juniors are more informed about what is going on in media and politics more then other schools. So the fact that we are well informed, and turning 18 is really important. Because there are a lot less votes coming from younger people, and we need to change that. Especially since we are basically the future, we should have a say in what happens. 

What did you like about this project? What was most challenging?

I always like putting together the movie together. It just is always a nice way to wrap up information in a creative way. I think the hardest part is trying to find what clips I could use within the movie. There was really only one c-span slip that had to do with young voters so trying to find different clips to incorporate and highlight that clip was a bit difficult. So that part was the most challenging for me. 

Describe the most interesting fact or event that you investigated.

I actually didn't know much about the voting age changing. I knew it did change rom 21 to 18 but that was as deep as it was for me. So researching about why it changed was interesting for me, and finding out that young men who were drafted at 18 felt that if they fought for the country they should be able to have a say in it as well. Which makes sense. So that was really interesting. 

How could this project be improved?

I would have liked the video to be a bit longer, and I really wanted to do interviews of young adults between the ages of 18-21 and figure out their voting history, if they have one. I think it would have really complemented the video and would have added a really interesting view since the young adults, themselves, would be saying how they felt about it. 

Where did you run into trouble with the project?

I think the hardest part was the fact that my partner and I were really doing well with the ideas and brainstorming of the project. We were really on our way to an awesome project. But there were some complications that got in the way and kind of flipped the whole project upside down. So trying to to get back up and start on my own was a bit difficult. 

What went well with this project?

I think the clips I did get looked really nice within the movie. The movie has a nice flow to it, though its short, it states it's point well. 

If you had it to do over, what would you change about your decisions or your process?

I would definitely get interviews of 18-21 year olds so that I had more clips for the movie, which would lengthen it but also make it way more interesting. I also would have worked harder to get it done faster and remember to post the video after I made it.  

What did you learn?

Some of the things that I learned was not only the details of the voting age changing but also how important it is for young adults to vote. Though a lot of 18 year olds may think our vote doesn't count, it really does. We really should work hard in making sure we have a say in our government and our future. A lot of us are more informed then many older adults when it comes to politics and media since most of us have classes based on those. So our thoughts, and votes are needed. I just learned a lot about the importance of young adults voting. 

History BM
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Kashif Ahmad Benchmark reflection

Since I was leaving to Pakistan I didn't have access to computer like that, Ms.Laufenberg assigned me this project. One thing I liked about this project is that it reached things I didn't knew before. What was challenging is that I had a little struggle with finding information about Pakistan government. One interesting fact is that Pakistan presidents serve 5 years instead of 4 years like here. This project could be improved if I included more pictures. I didn't really have problem with this project but one problem I encounter was that when I came back from Pakistan my computer battery was messed so now I can't use my computer without being plugged in to the charger, it makes it hard because I have to turn on and off my computer all the time. Finding the key points of the 2 government went well. I would make a video instead of slide show. I learned that Pakistan only had 12 presidents, also each president serves 5 years. 

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Exit Poll Data Analysis

Chart 1:

This chart shows the ages of voters. There is a clear trend: as people get older, they become more likely to vote for Gingrich or Romney, and less likely to vote for Santorum or Paul. My theory is that this is caused by the kind of advertising the candidates use and who their policies appeal to. I find the divide interesting: Paul and Santorum, who are kind of on the fringes of the campaign, appeal to young people; Gingrich and Romney, who seem to be the two main contestants, appeal to older people.

Chart 2:

This chart shows the incomes of the voters. Each candidate has a really interesting trend. Ron Paul's strongest support is in lower income households, and becomes less and less popular with groups of greater incomes. Gingrich has relatively high support across all levels, but his strongest point is definitely in the middle – he has less support among the richest and poorest groups. Mitt Romney is popular in exactly the opposite way as Gingrich: among the richest and poorest, he is popular, but less so among middle classes. Santorum is, like Gingrich, most popular in the middle – but less so among the poorest and wealthiest voters.

Chart 3:

This chart is the results of the polling question, "What quality matters most to you in a candidate?" I found a few things most interesting. First, each candidate has a clear weakness: clearly, Romney does not appeal to anyone who wants a "true conservative", and Gingrich is not considered to have strong moral character. Santorum is not popular among those who want an experienced candidate, and Paul is not favored for beating Obama. Another great analysis of this chart is the fact that there seems to be an inverse relationship between having strong moral character and being able to defeat Barack Obama. Clearly, people do truly believe that those who are morally true can succeed in politics. And, apparently, for good reason: there is also an inverse relationship between those who are favored for experience and those who have strong moral character!

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Donna Survillo CSPAN - 14th Amendment & Reflection (Q2 Benchmark)

I chose to focus on the 14th amendment because it's something that I can relate to and it effects my life if it were to be changed. I specifically looked into this certain amendment because being Asian causes me to be a minority which the 14th amendment comments on. Section 1 of the amendment states, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." This matters to me because even though I'm considered a minority, according to the law, I cannot be discriminated against or held from any opportunities that may be offered. 

I liked that we got to relate this project to ourselves and why these specific topics were important to us as a person. I really enjoyed the fact that we had a wide variety of topics to choose from and we were able to pick anything from the Constitution. I had a few challenges during the process of this project though. My partner and I split up because of personal reasons and she continued on with the original topic we were focusing on, so it caused me to choose another topic. Another challenge I had was that I'm not so good with video cameras and movie making so I had A LOT of trouble handling that. It was hard for me to get help because I knew I was falling behind and I didn't wanna cause anyone else to fall behind, knowing that it is benchmark season. So my project is late being turned in, but it still got done. 

The most interesting fact that I learned was that a lot of times, people don't know that they all get the same rights; even if they are from a minority group. A lot of people believe that because they are a minority, they are not allowed to have the same rights as everyone else.

This project, specifically mine, could be improved by being turned in on time. I could have used my time more wisely and asked for more help when I needed it to be able to get it done on time. I could have also asked for an extension for a couple days and stayed in touch with my teacher who knew what was going on with my partner and I. I ran into trouble with my partner and when it came to technological things, but that was pretty much it. 

Overall, a lot of things went well with this project. I learned a lot about the rights that I have as a minority. I also learned a lot more about not only my culture, but a lot of my classmates/friends cultures as well. But if I could do this project over, I would most definitely use my time more wisely.

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Lola Akinsola C-Span Benchmark Amendment XVI

Works Cited:

Honan, Mat. "The Government's Gadget Habit Has Cost You Hundreds of Millions." Gizmodo, the Gadget Guide. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <>.

Andrews, Edmund L. "Tax Cuts Offer Most for Very Rich, Study Says - New York Times." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 29 Jan. 2012. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <>.

"The First Income Tax." Civil War Trust: Saving America's Civil War Battlefields. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <>.

"Presidental Address." C-Span Video. C-Span. Web. <>.

"Salmon P. Chase." NNDB. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <>.

"Lincoln." History Place. History Place. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <History Place>.

"Army Representatives." Ontario County Fair. Ontario County Fair. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <>.

"IPad." Venture Beat. Venture Beat. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <>.

I've always wanted to know what exactly it was that made the government take taxes out of people's incomes. At first I thought it was just a random way to get money because they had no other way of getting it. Money doesn't just come out of nowhere...unless you print it and somehow avoid inflation. Now that I've done this benchmark, I've learned what started taxes.
What I liked about this project was learning the history of how taxes started. I liked this because, like I said before, I've always wanted to know how taxes came to be. What I didn't like however, was how difficult it was putting the video together. I'm not good with iMovie (as long as I've had it) so I had to start my entire project over due to technical difficulties. What I also found challenging was not making myself sound sarcastic. I didn't want to seem mean while I was talking about the way the government spends our money. I do think I did an okay job at talking about them however. I still think I could've done better though.
The most interesting fact that I have investigated was the gadgets they bought with our money and compared that to the things that need to be done that haven't been done on roads and what not. I thought they just didn't have the money, not knowing that the money that was supposed to go to the road work was going to iPads and useless 30GB Zunes.
I just think I need to be more creative all together. I wanted to make it all pretty and stuff but I didn't know how to go about it without causing a distraction to the information being provided and the point I was trying to get across. Since this was so, I made the most boring video ever in my opinion. 
I ran into trouble mostly with my vocal recordings. I was having trouble with the noise in the background, and it kept cutting off and ding other weird stuff so I had to start from scratch because it would've been too messy trying to fix all of that. However, what went well with this project, in my opinion, was finding information about the 16th amendment and information about the taxes that are being spent and the taxes that have been spent in the past few years during both Obama and Bush's administration. What also went well was the information I got from some oft he people I had interviewed. They said some things I didn't even know about.
If you had it to do over, what would you change about your decisions or your process?
Of course, if I had to do this whole project over I would make sure it's done on time! I would also take more time to make it interesting and not just a project. I would take the time out to make sure what I'm saying doesn't sound mean or anything because I don't want to sound mean talking about the government and submitting it to a competition (even though I really should).
Like I said earlier, I've learned how taxes came to be, when they came to be, how are taxes are being spent now, and what are taxes aren't being spent on. I've learned a little bit more than I had expected to. I've also learned how to work the new adjustments that have been made to Garageband. It took a while, but I got it now.

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Quarter 2 Benchmark

Link to Markia's post


I wanted to have a topic that not a whole lot of other people would choose, but will still be relevant to me on a personal level. I love to talk. I am incredibly opinionated and I love to articulate my thoughts, and the same can go for Markia. You suggested the topic to us, and we thought it would be interesting to explore our rights as students in school. The most interesting fact I learned from doing this project was how the most noticeable start for this fight of students rights was with the student protestors of the Vietnam War. Shows love to reference protestors from this time, but I didn't know it was a big deal in schools. 

I liked the video format, and that it was a relatively longer video because it had to be 5-8 minutes. This left more room for different types of video tools and aspects. Of course, it then became a challenge to tie these different aspects together. When Markia and I showed our video to her older sister to proof read, she did express to us that it wasn't until the very end that everything was tied together and made things clear. The reason for this was mostly we had a lot of clips mixed around and a lot of b-role. To be honest, when we captured some of our video, we lost the audio. So, we had to work around this. We didn't want to have to much of a "pictures with our voice narration" situation because that is too typical, too boring. In order to avoid this, we had to get a little creative. I think that our end product though - especially will our little "reflection" at the end - came together to show the story we wanted to tell. 

We actually got a lot of planning in early on and did our recording not at the last minute. But, when we started putting together the video we started have ideas like "Oh, it would be cool to have a picture of Lauf teaching here." These probably would have helped make our video more interesting. So, we probably could have had some sort storyboard going on from the beginning to lay out all our brainstorming ideas. 

I didn't know the fine lines that come along with student free speech in school. According to some court decisions, we can say what we want as long as no disturbance is called. Then, in other decisions, the message can itself be a big enough disturbance or the risk of a disturbance is enough to silence the students. 

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Lobbying Blog Post #5

Overall, I have been proud of the work I have done with learning about the rules and regulations of election campaigns. In my first blog post, I unfortunately did not dig down deep enough into the rules. This is understandable since the laws are constantly making small, specific changes with new Supreme Court cases and legislation. Also, public opinion is constantly changing. Luckily, through my work on my first quarter benchmark surrounding the Federal Election Campaign Act, I was able to get a better grasp on the information. I'm certain that there is still more for me to understand. There are numerous cases to look at and court decisions to examine to really understand the history of election campaign regulation and its current situation. Knowing that there was one big case (Citizens United vs FEC) just two years ago tells me that there is more to pay attention to. And what about the Occupy Protests? Surely, the citizens of America are just getting more and more dissatisfied with how the government is running. 

Disclosure is one specific subject that requires further investigation. Yes, the public has the right to know who is funding the presidential candidates and their ads. But, when do we get to know this. How much time do we have to examine these facts before it's time to elect someone to office? Is there even enough time to connect all the kinks in the chains that connect different government officials and corporate heads? I can't exactly speak out to government officials before I have a better idea of the current situation. Once I do a little bit more research, I can catch up on what I missed with the last assignment: contact. In my 2nd blog post I named the senators and representatives that have taken an active role in solving the problems in election campaign regulation. So, first up, I need to show my support. There is online petition I can sign, so I might as well go ahead and sign it. Next, I need to reach out to my local officials and speak out about my frustrations. 

I know that my best strategy to continue is to write personal letters to the government officials while at the same time increasing awareness with the public. Most people see the campaign ads on television, but most people don't understand who is behind them and how they ended up on TV. How would people feel if they knew just how many little strings corporations can to pull so they can dangle their favorite candidates in front of us for voting? I wasn't happy about it. As I mentioned in my posts, public trust in government is a huge thing. Officials know it. If they see that people are just angry, which they are, and that they are starting to lose even more faith in the government, they will be compelled to make a change. So, I can just start with my school. Just talk to students about it. With the current Republican primaries and the upcoming presidential election, this will definitely be a relevant discussion to have - especially with all the newly-18 and eligible voters in our school. Meanwhile, I can also reach out to my community through my parent's friends and connections. This is what I have in front of me in terms of my lobbying topic. 

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The Right to Assemble

1st Amendment (Right to Assemble)
We can come together and act as a collective voice. We bring awareness from a grass-root level to what we think the issues are and how to solve them. Our unity can convince the government and officials to reform policies and have the interest of the people in mind.

·       Why did you choose this topic?

    • With Phresh Philadelphia and the things that I’ve been interested in lately, the right to assemble was something that I think is very important. Lately I’ve been into African American society and the problems within the African American community and the right to assemble is something that should be utilized within the community.

·       What did you like about this project? What was most challenging?

    • I liked the video aspect of the project. The most challenging part for me was the editing and putting it all together. The question I had was, “What do I say?” because the right to assemble is important.

·       Describe the most interesting fact or event that you investigated.

    • The most interesting event that I investigated would be Fracking. I know it is pretty overdone however I liked the approach that certain people made. I loved Gas Lands and the fact that people actually are trying to assemble and fight off this abomination.

·       How could this project be improved?

    • I don’t think we had a lot of historical evidence. It was unclear as to how much we needed. We were unsure of whether the project was what does this amendment mean or was it what does it mean and information.

·       Where did you run into trouble with the project?

    •  Changing Partners.

·       What went well with this project?

    • The videos and the things that were used and put together.

·       If you had it to do over, what would you change about your decisions or your process?

    • I would have definitely started the project a bit earlier just to establish more historical fact.

·       What did you learn?

    • I learned a lot about partners and equal work ethic.

 Righttoassemble   <-------The video don't work

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First Amendment: Freedom of Religion Alsardary Q2 BM

Here's my Q2 BM based on the First Amendment: Freedom of Religion. Enjoy!

Ms. Laufenberg,

Sorry its on YouTube, I'll talk to you in class next time I see you.

Here it is!

Here's my Work Cited as well!


To start this reflection off, I chose the topic "Freedom of Religion" in the First Amendment because it honestly means the most to me. It plays a huge part in who I am and if I was not able to practice the religion I wanted, my life would turn 360˚. Religion makes me, and the point that I am allowed to practice my religion without any judgement or doubt is really a true blessing that the US has. It is why it is so multi-cultural and diverse and that is what makes the US the land of the free. Also, since I can really relate alot to it and share my own experiences and thoughts, I thought it would be a great topic of choice. I liked this project because it was actually really interesting and fun to do, and it wasnt like a paper or anything, it was something visual which helped in my wanting to do the documentary to perfection. Also, there was a great amount of time for us to finish as well. As for some of the most challenging things, I had only one great and super hard challenge: Procastination/Time-Management. I really had a long time to do this and I always put it off to other days to the point where when I started when I got back home I would be tired and fall asleep. I finally put myself together in midst of turning it late, but I really do believe when I put my mind to things I can get them done really well.

The most interesting fact/event that I investigated was the point of view in which I would turn up if the freedom of religion did not exist. This project was fantastic, well put together, I would not change really anything. The only trouble I ran into was the procastination, but I finally got over it. Something that went well in this project was the way it was designed just like a documentary. If I could do this BM over again I would definitely make earlier decisions, get my footage earlier, and not procrastinate AT ALL. I really did like my topic, so I probably wouldnt change it. I learned alot about my own life and the blessings I have, and I really gained a good experience expressing my thoughts and feelings on the topic and its impact on my life.
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