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Internet Lessons for Learning About the Constitution

Elementary:

Preamble to the Constitution: How Do You Make a More Perfect Union?
http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=233
How does the language of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution reflect historical events and the goals the Founders had for the future? What does the Preamble mean? Explain the purposes of the U.S. Constitution as identified in the Preamble to the Constitution. Identify fundamental values and principles as they are expressed in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Standard 5.7.3 and 8.2.2

Preamble to the Constitution
http://www.constitutioncenter.org/education/ForEducators/LessonPlans/Preamble/5494.shtml
Discuss key phrases from the Preamble of the Constitution. Find ways to relate the values stated in the Preamble to their daily lives. Become aware of changes in the Constitution to ensure fairness, to all citizens and explore possible changes needed in the Constitution by future generations of citizens. Standard 5.7.3 and 8.2.2

The Bill of Rights - A Virtual Museum
http://rims.k12.ca.us/score_lessons/bill_of_rights/
On April 30, 1789, George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States. The new United States Constitution had already been ratified, yet the future of the new country was still at risk. Many of the founding fathers were demanding a "bill of rights" which would protect the people from the government. This list of rights was to be added to the Constitution to guarantee individual liberties, to make sure that the new government would not treat citizens like the old colonial government of Great Britain did. But not everyone agreed that this bill of rights was necessary. Learn about the rights that are protected by this famous document in the Web Museum designed for Language Learners. Apply the protected rights to a list of example events to discuss with your class. Then open your local newspaper to find other examples of challenges to rights in America. Standards 5.7.2, 5.7.3, 8.2.6, 10.2.2, 11.1.2, 12.1.6, and 12.5.1 civics

What Is a Republican Government?
http://www.civiced.org/wtp_elem03_sb.html
This lesson from the "We the People" elementary book, published by the Center for Civic Education, leads students to establish the relationship between the concept of Republican government and the principles of the common welfare and civic virtue. The lesson is guided by a series of problem-based thought questions. Standards 5.7.3 and 8.1.4

What Responsibilities Accompany Our Rights?
http://www.civiced.org/wtp_elem21_sb.html
Suppose your government does everything it can to protect your rights. Is this enough? Will your rights be protected? Do we have any responsibility to protect not only your own rights, but other's as well? Standards 5.7.5 and 8.2.7

The Right Stuff: What Qualified Washington to Be President?
http://www.georgewashington.si.edu/kids/activity2.html
Create a list of the characteristics, qualifications, and skills that make an effective President of the United States. After reading a selection provided, determine the characteristics, qualifications, and skills that George Washington had that made him the right choice for President of the United States. Compare and contrast the changing needs for the job of President of the United States today and at the time of Washington. Standards 3.4.6, 5.7.4, 8.2.4, and 8.3.0

Balancing Three Branches at Once: Our System of Checks and Balances
http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=222
One of the most persistent and overarching complaints about the early government of the U.S. under the Articles of Confederation was the weakness of the federal government. Attempting to form a more perfect union, the framers of the Constitution designed a government that clearly assigned power to three branches, while at the same time guaranteeing that the power of any branch could be checked by another. Using School House Rocks songs and primary source documents, your students can see clear demonstrations of how one branch of our government can check another. Standard 5.7.4

Class Constitution
http://www.teachervision.com/lesson-plans/lesson-2177.html
Learn the purpose of the U.S. Constitution and then analyze the language and meaning of the Preamble. Work in cooperative groups to write a class constitution incorporating the appropriate elements of the U.S. Constitution. Standards 3.4.1, 4.5.1, 5.7.3 and 8.2.6

Extra! Extra! The American Constitution is Finished
http://www.lesd.k12.az.us/PV/specials/media/contask.html
It's September 17, 1787, the final draft of the United States Constitution has just been sent to Congress and will now be sent to the states to be ratified. Your job as an employee of your home state newspaper (pick one of the states existing in 1787*) is to provide news to the public about the important event that has just taken place. You must communicate this information to your readers! It's a big job! Standards 5.7.2 and 5.7.3

History Of The Bill Of Rights
http://www.courts.wa.gov/education/lessons/index.cfm?fa=education_lessons.display&displayid=Histrybo
After an overview of the Bill of Rights, enjoy this game. List rights contained in the Bill of Rights and know there are other rights in the U.S. Constitution and subsequent amendments. Explain why the U.S. Constitution of 1787 did not contain a Bill of Rights and identify the players in the process to obtain a Bill of Rights. Apply the 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights to your life today. Standard 5.7.2, 8.2.3, and 8.2.6

Monument on the Mall: A WebQuest on the Three Branches of Government
http://schoolweb.missouri.edu/nixa.k12.mo.us/sullivan/GovernmentQuest/index.html
Congress passed a law last week approving the building of a new monument on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Because of your interest and knowledge of the US government, they have chosen you to research and design this new monument. The law states that the monument must represent one branch of our nation's government and cannot be taller than the Washington Monument. The design idea is up to you. The members of Congress would like to see your completed ideas at their next session, which is in five weeks. In order for them to use your design you must meet this deadline.

How are the three branches of government important to the United States? What will visitors learn about them when they visit your monument? Standards 3.4.4 and 5.7.4


Middle School:

Debate on Ratification
http://rims.k12.ca.us/activity/ratification/index.html
You will "become" one of the famous Constitutional debaters, research their arguments, and stage a debate in front of your state's legislature (the class). The class will then vote whether or not to ratify the new Constitution, based upon the success of your debate. Standards 8.2.3, 8.2.4, 8.2.6-7, 11.1.2 and 12.1.3-6
Author: Janet Mulder

U.S. Constitution Power Grab Game
http://score.rims.k12.ca.us/score_lessons/power_grab_game/index.html
The highest law of the land in the United States is the Constitution. This is why you spend so much time learning about it in school. This activity will increase your knowledge of the Constitution and it's fundamental ideas: checks and balances, separation of powers, Bill of Rights and amendments. Standards 8.2.6 and 12.4 all civics

The Bill of Rights - A Virtual Museum
http://score.rims.k12.ca.us/score_lessons/bill_of_rights/
On April 30, 1789, George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States. The new United States Constitution had already been ratified, yet the future of the new country was still at risk. Many of the founding fathers were demanding a "bill of rights" which would protect the people from the government. This list of rights was to be added to the Constitution to guarantee individual liberties, to make sure that the new government would not treat citizens like the old colonial government of Great Britain did. But not everyone agreed that this bill of rights was necessary. Learn about the rights that are protected by this famous document in the Web Museum designed for Language Learners. Apply the protected rights to a list of example events to discuss with your class. Then open your local newspaper to find other examples of challenges to rights in America. Standards 5.7.2, 5.7.3, 8.2.6, 10.2.2, 11.1.2, 12.1.6, and 12.5.1 civics

Growth of Democratic Tradition: Age of Enlightenment - A Virtual Museum
http://rims.k12.ca.us/score_lessons/growth_of_democratic/
During the Enlightenment, or Age of Reason, intellectuals began to examine the standards by which rulers governed. These new liberal ideas stated that individuals had natural rights and that government was an agreement or contract between the people and their ruler. In this governmental contract both the ruler and the citizen had rights and responsibilities. Compare and contrast the ideas of the philosophers and explore their development in time. Standards 7.11.5, 8.1.2, 10.2.1, 11.1.1, and 12.1.1

Constitutional Convention
http://www.yahooligans.com/tg/constitution.html#stage1
Identify the positions of specific states regarding crucial conflicts during the Constitutional Convention. Analyze the degree to which compromise was important to the ratification of the Constitution. In an oral report represent the viewpoints of your assigned state. Standard 8.2.4

Drafting the Constitution
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/lessons/constitu/const-l1.html
This lesson, a supplement to a study of the Constitutional Convention, focuses on The Committee of Detail's draft of the Constitution submitted on 6 August 1787. The delegates debated its contents for a month before referring the document to the Committee of Style. The Committee's report, presented to the Convention on 12 September, became the Constitution of the United States. Working within groups, read the Report of the Committee of Detail and compare it with the final version of the Constitution. Chart the major differences in the two documents. Standards 8.2.3 and 11.1.2

History Of The Bill Of Rights
http://www.courts.wa.gov/education/lessons/?fa=education_lessons.display&displayid=Histrybo
After an overview of the Bill of Rights, enjoy this game. List rights contained in the Bill of Rights and know there are other rights in the U.S. Constitution and subsequent amendments. Explain why the U.S. Constitution of 1787 did not contain a Bill of Rights and identify the players in the process to obtain a Bill of Rights. Apply the 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights to your life today. Standard 5.7.2, 8.2.3, and 8.2.6

Integrity and Our Constitutional Democracy
http://www.constitutioncenter.org/education/ForEducators/LessonPlans/SeparationofPowers/5484.shtml
In the course of this lesson, students will consider the value of integrity both as ideal for human behavior and as a characteristic of the American political system. In Part I, students reflect on the meaning of integrity as presented in selected statements from the Founders. Part II focuses the students on the definition and idea of integrity as it relates to their personal lives. The Small Group Discussion in Part III reinforces the integrated nature of the principles contained in our Founding Documents. In Part IV, students examine how the principle of separation of powers is essentially an integrating principle: all three branches of government working together as one. In a class-wide discussion, students assess how a person of integrity would act in certain situations. Finally, students attempt to apply the value of integrity in their own lives. Standard 8.2.7

Linking Past to Present: Powers of Congress
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/lessons/constitu/const-l3.html
The Constitution of the United States vests Congress with the power to make laws, to collect taxes, and to allocate funds for government programs, both domestic and foreign. It is in Congress that the day-to-day work of our democracy finds its most clear expression at the national level. It is up to the men and women elected to serve in the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States to formulate policy and enact legislation. A study of three perennial issues -- veterans' benefits, the national debt, and terrorism -- shows the ways in which Congress responded to problems in 1785, and in recent years. Standards 8.3.2, 8.3.4, and 12.4.1

President's Powers
http://catalog.socialstudies.com/c/@y4XQDFILNxnSU/Pages/article.html?article@president
The "Founding Fathers" of the United States wanted to make sure that no one person had too much power. This is why they created the three branches that are the main components of our federal government. Even though the Constitution spells out specific powers and duties for the president, presidents have frequently taken on powers and responsibilities that are not stated in the Constitution. In this activity, you need to consider the role of the president and think carefully about how much power and privilege you think the president should have. Standards 8.2.6., 8.2.7 and 12.4.4 civics

Ratification of the Constitution
http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/constitution-day/ratification.html
Ratification was not a foregone conclusion. Able, articulate men used newspapers, pamphlets, and public meetings to debate ratification of the Constitution. Those known as Antifederalists opposed the Constitution for a variety of reasons. Some continued to argue that the delegates in Philadelphia had exceeded their congressional authority by replacing the Articles of Confederation with an illegal new document. Others complained that the delegates in Philadelphia represented only the well-born few and consequently had crafted a document that served their special interests and reserved the franchise for the propertied classes. Another frequent objection was that the Constitution gave too much power to the central government at the expense of the states and that a representative government could not manage a republic this large. The most serious criticism was that the Constitutional Convention had failed to adopt a bill of rights. Research the ratification story in a specific state. During a storytelling day, tell the best stories found in your research. Standard Standards 8.2.3, 8.2.4, 8.2.6-7, 11.1.2 and 12.1.3-6

Separating of Church and State
http://www.crf-usa.org/bria/bria134.html
In this activity in Bill of Rights in Action students take a position on issues related to separation of Church and State. Additional sources from Archiving Early America will enrich the debate including Original Intent and The Free Exercise of Religion http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/fall98/original.html America's Government Is Secular http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/summer97/secular.html Standards 8.2.5, 11.3.5, 12.1.6, and 12.10 civics

The Bill of Rights
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/lessons/constitu/const-l2.html
On 12 September 1787, during the final days of the Constitutional Convention, George Mason of Virginia expressed the desire that the Constitution be prefaced by a Bill of Rights. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts proposed a motion to form a committee to incorporate such a declaration of rights; however the motion was defeated. Examine the First Congress's addition of a Bill of Rights as the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Standards 8.2.6 and 11.2.1

The Revolution of 1800
http://nationalhistoryday.org/images/uploads/2002CurBook.pdf
In 2000, Republican George W. Bush edged out Democrat Al Gore in one of the closest presidential races in the history of the Electoral College. Some 200 years earlier, in the presidential election of 1800, Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson easily beat Federalist John Adams in a bitter, highly partisan campaign. However, Jefferson did not win the election outright. In fact, due to a fluke, the Electoral College actually produced a tie between Jefferson and Aaron Burr, his own vice-presidential candidate. The constitution gave responsibility for settling the election to the United States House of Representatives. On the 37th ballot, the House finally chose Thomas Jefferson as president. Standard 8.3.4

The Right Stuff: What Qualified Washington to Be President?
http://www.georgewashington.si.edu/kids/activity2.html
Create a list of the characteristics, qualifications, and skills that make an effective President of the United States. After reading a selection provided, determine the characteristics, qualifications, and skills that George Washington had that made him the right choice for President of the United States. Compare and contrast the changing needs for the job of President of the United States today and at the time of Washington. Standards 3.4.6, 5.7.4, 8.2.4, and 8.3.0

Constitutional Power - Jefferson vs Hamilton
http://www.teachtheteachers.org/projects/FClevenger2/index.htm
Here is your chance to make history. Envision yourself in 1790 as Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton debating issues of the powers of the Constitution before the Congress of the United States. The two issues are the National Bank and the Alien and Sedition Acts. Were they Constitutional?
Standard 8.3.4 (This lesson needs an edit, but is a sound lesson academically)

Understanding Procedural Justice
http://www.courts.wa.gov/education/lessons/?fa=education_lessons.display&displayid=Procjust
Students will analyze the concept of procedural justice by identifying the unfair decisions by the ruler in a play. They will then state the procedural guarantees that ought to be part of America's legal system and compare their list of procedural guarantees to the procedural guarantees provided by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Standard 5.7.2, 8.2.3, 8.2.6, and 12.5.1 civics

United States Constitution: Exploring Congress and the Democratic Process
http://www.fountcom.com/folio/lesson1.html
Explore the powers and duties of Congress by completing one or more of these research activities: 1.You are a team of reporters in Philadelphia, in 1787. The Constitutional Convention has just ended and your team is responsible for writing a series of articles for your newspaper that explains the structure of the new government to your readers. 2.You are part of your state's delegation to the Constitution convention in Philadelphia in 1787 and you must prepare presentations for the people of your state outlining the outcomes of the Convention. 3.As your service project, your team has chosen to assist a local middle school social studies teacher. Your first assignment is to help prepare students for an upcoming visit to Washington DC. 4.Your team has been working with the local League of Women Voters on projects that help increase civic awareness and understanding. 5.You are part of a team that is serving as content advisors for a documentary film producer. 6.Your team is charged with putting together a series of presentations for the PTO on the Constitution in the 21st century. Standards 8.2.3, 12.1.3, 12.1.4, 12.1.5, and 12.3.2

What Conflicting Opinions Did the Framers Have about the Completed Constitution?
http://www.civiced.org/wtp_hs15_sb.html
Here are some conflicting points of view of leading Framers about the Constitution. Most of the delegates argued for the adoption of the Constitution, although many had reservations about all or parts of it. The reservations of three were so serious that they refused to sign the document. The position of one of these Framers, George Mason, is explored in detail. You also will examine Benjamin Franklin's statement in defense of the Constitution. Standards 8.2.4, 11.1.2, 12.1.4 and 12.1.5 civics.

What Is a Republican Government?
http://www.civiced.org/wtp_elem03_sb.html
This lesson from the "We the People" elementary book, published by the Center for Civic Education, leads students to establish the relationship between the concept of Republican government and the principles of the common welfare and civic virtue. The lesson is guided by a series of problem-based thought questions. Standards 5.7.3 and 8.1.4

What Responsibilities Accompany Our Rights?
http://www.civiced.org/wtp_elem21_sb.html
Suppose your government does everything it can to protect your rights. Is this enough? Will your rights be protected? Do we have any responsibility to protect not only your own rights, but other's as well? Standards 5.7.5 and 8.2.7

What Was George Washington's Legacy to
American Constitutionalism and Citizenship?

http://www.civiced.org/wtp_gwlesson.html
This lesson looks at the legacy of George Washington, perhaps the most influential leader in the creation of the American nation. Through his achievements as commander- in-chief during the Revolution, in support of the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, and as first president, Washington was instrumental in transforming the ideals of the Revolution into reality. His career as soldier, revolutionary, constitution-maker, and chief executive of a new nation demanded a range of skills and talents with few precedents in history. When you have completed this lesson, you will be able to evaluate, take, and defend a position on the contributions of the "Father of His Country" to the nation's traditions of constitutional government and citizenship. Standards 8.2.4, 11.1.2, 12.1.4, and 12.2.4 civics

What Was James Madison's Legacy to American Constitutionalism and Citizenship?
http://www.civiced.org/wtp_madison_lesson.html
The year 2001 marked the 250th birthday of James Madison. Examine the legacy of the "philosopher statesman," James Madison. Judge the degree to which Madison deserves to be considered the "father" of both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Explain and evaluate Madison's successes and failures in putting his ideals into practice as regards political parties and slavery. Standards 8.1.2, 8.1.4, 8.2.4, 10.2.1, 12.1.3, 12.1.4
Author: Center for Civic Education and The Montpelier Foundation, in Orange, Virginia.

What’s It All About? An Introduction to the First Amendment
http://www.freedomforum.org/templates/document.asp?documentID=13588
This lesson gives students a broad overview of First Amendment principles as a starting point for other lessons (for middle and high school students) that treat the subject with greater depth. Select Lesson 1 from the list at this URL. Standards 8.2.5. 8.2.6, 11.1.3, 12.2.1, and 12.5.1 civics

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