Lesson Plans

37 Result(s)
Grade Range
6-12
“From Time to Time”: Presidents and Communicating with the Public

From telegraphs to television to Twitter, how, why, and when presidents address the nation and global community has changed across U.S. history. This lesson examines the messages and mediums used by presidents and asks students to engage in point of view and change over time analyses as part of their evaluation of how presidents have communicated with the public in U.S. history.

Grade Range
6-12
A Day for the Constitution

Whether you are spending one class session examining the U.S. Constitution for Constitution Day this September 17th or more, our lesson activities have you covered. Here you will find questions, videos, and access to materials that can be amended and implemented to teach a Constitution Day lesson. An introduction and warm-up are provided, followed by three separate activities that can be used on their own or combined depending on the time allotted for Constitution Day. The lesson includes reflection questions and prompts for closure.

Grade Range
9-12
Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!: Simulating the Supreme Court

This lesson helps students learn about the judicial system through simulating a real court case involving student free speech rights. In addition to learning about how the Supreme Court operates, students will explore how the Supreme Court protects their rights, interprets the Constitution, and works with the other two branches of government.

Grade Range
9-12
Lesson 2: The Question of Representation at the 1787 Convention

When the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention convened in May of 1787 to recommend amendments to the Articles of Confederation, one of the first issues they addressed was the plan for representation in Congress. This lesson will focus on the various plans for representation debated during the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

Grade Range
6-12
“Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander

This lesson plan is the seventh in the “Incredible Bridges: Poets Creating Community” series. It provides a video recording of the poet, Elizabeth Alexander, reading the poem “Praise Song for the Day” composed for President Barak Obama’s 2009 inauguration ceremony. The companion lesson contains a sequence of activities for use with secondary students before, during, and after reading to help them enter and experience the poem.

Lesson Three. The Power of the Majority over Thought

In Tocqueville’s discussion of how the majority in America constrains freedom of thought, he makes some of the most extreme criticisms against democracy. For example, he says “I do not know any country where, in general, less independence of mind and genuine freedom of discussion reign than in America”; and, “there is no freedom of mind in America.”

Lesson One. The Omnipotence of the Majority

In this lesson, students are introduced to Tocqueville’s argument about the “omnipotent” power of the majority in America and its consequences. After an initial statement that the “very essence” of democracy is majority rule, he contrasts the means by which state constitutions artificially increase the power of the majority with the U.S. Constitution, which checks that power.

Grade Range
6-12
Lesson Two. The Tyranny of the Majority

In this lesson, students continue their examination of Tocqueville’s argument about the power of the majority and its consequences. Having suggested previously that the majority can crush a minority without even hearing its screams, he elaborates on the dangers of unchecked and unlimited power in democratic America and how to deal with it.

Grade Range
6-8
The Preamble to the Constitution: A Close Reading Lesson

The Preamble is the introduction to the United States Constitution, and it serves two central purposes. First, it states the source from which the Constitution derives its authority: the sovereign people of the United States. Second, it sets forth the ends that the Constitution and the government that it establishes are meant to serve.

Grade Range
9-12
The Creation of the Bill of Rights: “Retouching the Canvas”

This lesson will focus on the arguments either for or against the addition of a Bill of Rights between 1787 and 1789. By examining the views of prominent Americans in original documents, students will see that the issue at the heart of the debate was whether a Bill of Rights was necessary to secure and fulfill the objects of the American Revolution and the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Students will also gain an understanding of the origins of the Bill of Rights and how it came to be part of what Thomas Jefferson called "the American mind," as well as a greater awareness of the difficulties that proponents had to overcome in order to add the first ten Amendments to the Constitution.