We the People

The U.S. Constitution

Starting with the failed Articles of Confederation this unit looks at how the Constitution ultimately arose out of great compromise and guided the direction the direction of this country. We will look closely at the Articles as well and the powers assigned to states and local governments. We will close with an in-depth look at our rights as defined in the Bill of the Rights.

Essential Question: Should the Constitution have been ratified as originally written without the promise of a Bill of Rights?

Constitution PowerPoint Lecture Notes

(Music and videos have been removed for copyright reasons, thanks Congress!)

Well, it's up to the delegates. Trace the origins of the Constitution.

Those words are so small, what's actually in the Constitution?

An admittedly boring presentation thanks to Congress making laws that don't allow me to include the videos. WHERE IS THAT IN THE CONSTITUTION?!

Labs and Activities

1. How Governments Work - In this lab students make a series of decisions using different government models. Experience tyranny in all its forms- from the maniacal monarch to the mob majority! Introduces key pre-founding documents like the Mayflower Compact and English Bill of Rights. Download the file and read the instructions in the page notes at the bottom of each slide.

2. The Preamble - A comparison of the first draft of the Preamble to the one that was agreed upon. Afterwards students turn the Preamble into a storyboard to help them understand each line.

3. State Perspectives on the Constitution - Brief information sheets along with Close Reading analysis for each state (minus Rhode Island) to help prepare students for the Constitutional Convention Simulation.

4. Constitutional Convention Simulation - [Script I Student Worksheet] A simulation of the compromises that came about to make the Constitution possible. Students take on the role of a specific delegate, debate issues and participate in parliamentary procedures. Day 1 covers the Great Compromise. Day 2 includes the 3/5s Compromise and the question of the presidency. The Role Cards come from TCI's History Alive. The simulation can be done without them using just the State Perspectives sheets above. Here are some cards I made myself to give you an idea of what they include.

5. You Be the Judge - A stations-based lab where students in small groups consider whether a set of scenarios contain any violations of the Bill of Rights.

6. 3 Branches Graphic Organizer and Poster - Students in groups will research one branch and create a poster/museum display to share that branch with the rest of the class. This will serve as the instructional step for the Super Hero lab soon to come.

7. Super Hero Branches - a lab where students imagine each branch as a super hero giving them powers, sidekicks and weaknesses. They then "battle" their heroes against each other in the ultimate test of checks and balances.

8, HAT - States vs. Feds - A Close-reading of an article from The Atlantic magazine exploring the increasingly small separation between state and federal government in the US.

9. Stations: The Anti-Federalists - Adapted from a "historical scene investigation" lab this activity has students examining arguments against the ratification of the Constitution.

10. Constitution DBQ - Students analyze documents from their textbook and online sources to answer the question: Should the Constitution have been ratified?

11. Constitutional Crisis Breakout - A series of puzzles for students to solve in order to unlock the ultimate weapon against tyranny. (Put copies of the pocket Constitution in the final treasure box!)

12. Political Agenda Card/Role-playing Game - Based on an activity from iCivics.org students take on various roles representing the three branches. Each player has their own personal agenda they are trying to complete to earn bonus points. It's a complicated mess - just like government!