The Cornerstone of U.S. Democracy: The U.S. Constitution
Students define the word preamble. Then they closely read the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution and state each of the goals in their own words. Next they examine the structure of all main parts of the Constitution and identify the main topic of each article. Finally they illustrate the Preamble.
The Bill of Rights
Students brainstorm rights in the Bill of Rights. Then they read closely the first amendment and describe the five freedoms. Next they watch a video and then read the entire Bill of Rights and summarize each of them. Finally they examine what is and is not covered by freedom of speech.
The U.S. Government
Students identify the buildings that house the three branches of the U.S. government. Then they explore the three branches and their powers. Next they learn about checks and balances and create a chart. Finally, they put the system of separation of power and checks and balances into a historical context by answering a question about the goal of the framers of the Constitution.
The Writing of the U.S. Constitution
Students create a chart of what they know about the U.S. Constitution. Then they learn about two issues that arose during the writing of the Constitution and the compromises: state representation within the legislature and the Bill of Rights. Next they read some quotes and identify the author: James Madison or George Mason, and explain how they know. Finally, they examine the positions on slavery among delegates to the Constitutional Convention and take a personal stand on whether the Constitution should address the issue of slavery.
The New Republic
Students create a group list of actions they think are necessary to establish a new government. Then they examine a list of laws enacted during Washington’s presidency and determine what each contributed to the new republic. Next they explain why Washington’s precedent of democratic transfer of executive power is important to American democracy. Finally they interpret a brief excerpt from the Farewell Address about the importance of the Constitution, and they restate the excerpt in their own words.