Teacher Notes

Author: Gregory S. Sorber

Grade Level: This lesson is primarily directed at 9th or 10th grade students. However, it can be geared to students in the 7th-12th grades.

Standards: This lesson can be used to meet some or all of the following standards:

7.11.6. Discuss how the principles in the Magna Carta were embodied in such documents as the English Bill of Rights and the American Declaration of Independence.

1.Compare the major ideas of philosophers and their effects on the democratic revolutions in England, the United States, France, and Latin America (e.g., John Locke, Charles-Louis Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Simon Bolivar, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison).

2.List the principles of the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights (1689), the American Declaration of Independence (1776), the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789), and the U.S. Bill of Rights (1791).

3.Understand the unique character of the American Revolution, its spread to other parts of the world, and its continuing significance to other nations.

4.Explain how the ideology of the French Revolution led France to develop from constitutional monarchy to democratic despotism to the Napoleonic empire. 5.Discuss how nationalism spread across Europe with Napoleon but was repressed for a generation under the Congress of Vienna and Concert of Europe until the Revolutions of 1848.

Analyze the ideological origins of the American Revolution, the divinely bestowed unalienable natural rights philosophy of the Founding Fathers, the debates on the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, and the addition of the Bill of Rights.

1.Analyze the influence of ancient Greek, Roman, English, and leading European political thinkers such as John Locke, Charles-Louis Montesquieu, Niccolo Machiavelli, and William Blackstone on the development of American government.

2.Discuss the character of American democracy and its promise and perils as articulated by Alexis de Tocqueville.

3.Explain how the U.S. Constitution reflects a balance between the classical republican concern with promotion of the public good and the classical liberal concern with protecting individual rights; and discuss how the basic premises of liberal constitutionalism and democracy are joined in the Declaration of Independence as "self-evident truths."

4.Explain how the Founding Fathers' realistic view of human nature led directly to the establishment of a constitutional system that limited the power of the governors and the governed as articulated in the Federalist Papers.

5.Describe the systems of separated and shared powers, the role of organized interests (Federalist Paper Number 10), checks and balances (Federalist Paper Number 51), the importance of an independent judiciary (Federalist Paper Number 78), enumerated powers, rule of law, federalism, and civilian control of the military.

6.Understand that the Bill of Rights limits the powers of the federal government and state governments.


1.Discuss the meaning and importance of each of the rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights and how each is secured (e.g., freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, petition, privacy).

2.Explain how economic rights are secured and their importance to the individual and to society (e.g., the right to acquire, use, transfer, and dispose of property; right to choose one's work; right to join or not join labor unions; copyright and patent).

3.Discuss the individual's legal obligations to obey the law, serve as a juror, and pay taxes.

4.Understand the obligations of civic-mindedness, including voting, being informed on civic issues, volunteering and performing public service, and serving in the military or alternative service.

5.Describe the reciprocity between rights and obligations; that is, why enjoyment of one's rights entails respect for the rights of others.

6.Explain how one becomes a citizen of the United States, including the process of naturalization (e.g., literacy, language, and other requirements).

Lesson Duration: 3-4 class periods

Team Management: I believe 4 students per team is ideal for this type of activity. However, feel free to change this if another number works better for your class.

Background for Teachers: If you are not an expert on the democratic revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries, the following web sites should bring you up to speed.

There are a number of ways to get the students interested into this lesson. I have always found that students get interested in lessons that relate to them. To some students, it may seem a far stretch to relate to the Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution, and the French Revolution, but you know as well as I do that it can be done. The American Revolution lends itself quite nicely to the analogy of a teenager rebelling against its parents, something most, if not all students can relate to. Another thing that I have found that students relate to is their own rights and the rights of others. Students do not like to see injustice in the world and can be motivated to work hard to find solutions to problems, even if they are only in the classroom. This is why I chose the Scenario to start with a listing of current abuses of students around the world to introduce a Student Bill of Rights. Before starting this lesson do a little research on the Internet looking for current events regarding student rights. In the wake of the Columbine shootings, a number of schools have cracked down hard on students' dress code, and even speech. Some of these crackdowns may have been necessary, but some may not. You can use these scenarios whether you agree with them or not to get your students to think long and hard about the rights that they have, how they might be taken away, or how some may abuse their rights.

This lesson is designed to be used as a review . This should keep the time used on this lesson to between 3-4 days. If you are using this lesson as the only source of information about the Glorious, American and French Revolutions you should increase the time spent on it to 5-7 days.

If your students have access to computers, Internet, and printers, they can print their own worksheets and view the primary sources for this lesson. If not, you will need to print and photo copy everything for them. They will also need to use their books and or any library resources that are available to answer the questions on the review worksheets.

See the Assessment page for more details. Seeing that there are answer keys linked to this page I would try to keep the students away from it.

Student Page

Students only need to go to this page if they have Internet access and you want them to go there.

Answer Keys
Here is a ist of links to the student work sheets.

Revolution Review Worksheets:

Worksheets to Guide Reading of Historical Documents: