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The US Constitution: Why is it Special?

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Liberty Nation GenZ  believes in educating young Americans about the U.S. and its Constitution. This middle school lesson plan can be used in the classroom or the home, and adapted to a range of student abilities.

Objectives:

  • Students will discuss, debate, and evaluate the U.S. Constitution.
  • Students will identify the fundamental tenets and purpose of the Constitution.
  • Students will introduce claims about a topic or issue, acknowledge and distinguish the claims from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.
  • Students will use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

Materials:

VIDEO: Why the Constitution is Special discusses three reasons why the U.S. Constitution is valuable.

HANDOUT: Video comprehension quiz

HANDOUT: Video discussion handouts

ARTICLE: The Constitution: The Foundation of a Nation describes the origin of the Constitution and outlines its key tenets.

Suggested Procedure:

Step 1

Give students a slip of paper and have them write 2-3 sentences describing the most important aspects of the U.S. Constitution. Students can then read their answers out loud and compare responses. What similarities and differences are there? Students can come to the front of the class and write their keywords on the board.

Step 2

Ask students if they think the Constitution is still valuable today. Informally discuss what they value/don’t value in the Constitution.

Step 3

Show video Why the Constitution is Special.

Suggested places to stop and ask questions:

  • 0:37 – When was the Constitution ratified?
  • 0:50 – What was the Constitution’s purpose? What was the Framers’ goal?
  • 1:30 – What new idea did the U.S. Constitution bring to the world?
  • 2:04 – What does the phrase “no taxation without representation” mean, and what is its significance?
  • 2:16 – Do you know anything about the 5th and 14th amendments? If so, what?
  • 2:32 – What do you know about King George?
  • 2:52 – What are the three branches of government, and how do they work?
  • 3:14 – Read and discuss the passage.
  • 3:43 – How does the Constitution guarantee equality? Does this work in practice?
  • 4:10 – How is the U.S. Constitution unique?

Step 4

Students complete the video comprehension quiz.

Step 5

Students complete one or both of the discussion handouts, individually or in groups.

Step 6

Students read the article The Constitution: The Foundation of a Nation.

Step 7

Ask students whether they think the Framers’ intentions in creating the Constitution were fulfilled.

Step 8

Creative collage activity highlighting the students’ most valued aspects of the Constitution, or anything they feel is relevant. Some suggestions:

  • Group class: Students could glue their responses from the beginning of the lesson onto a poster and decorate.
  • Group class: Students create a collage using keywords, drawings, etc.
  • Individual: Student brainstorms what he/she thinks are the most critical aspects of the Constitution to create a decorative collage.
  • Small group/individual: Students use a free online “word cloud” generator to create a word cloud poster with their chosen constitutional keywords.

Extension 1

Creative writing: Ask students to imagine one of the Framers gets transported in a time machine to the present day. Have them write a short story about how he would react to modern society and government.

Extension 2

Creative writing: Students image they are transported back to the framing of the Constitution, or that they are responsible for the creation of a brand new country. Have them write up a Constitution they believe in – how similar or different is it to the U.S. document?

Extension 3

Have students choose an article from the Constitution and write an analysis of its value and role in society.

Extension 4

Read the article Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist: A Fierce Debate and the Birth of a Nation.

Download a PDF of this lesson plan and handouts

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