The Declaration of Independence
In this lesson, students will explore the structure, purpose, and significance of the Declaration of Independence. Focusing on the most famous phrases of the Declaration from the Introduction and the Conclusion, students will analyze the concepts of inalienable rights and government by consent. Finally, students will begin to understand the philosophical foundations of America’s constitutional government.
The United States Constitution
This lesson gives a broad overview of the purpose and structure of the Constitution. Students will analyze the Preamble to understand what the Founders believed the purpose of the national government to be, and examine how those purposes are put into practice in the structure of the Constitution.
The Bill of Rights
The Constitution, with a system of separated powers, checks and balances, and an extended republic, was intended to better secure individual rights. Additional limitations on government were set forth in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. Students will analyze scenarios for possible violations of those rights, and evaluate Supreme Court rulings in similar situations.
America’s Civic Values
This lesson offers students the opportunity to reflect on what virtues the Founders considered fundamental to a free society. After reflecting on the meaning of these values, students will analyze situations where civic values can be exercised, as well as identify modern day examples of those values in practice.
American Heroes: Past and Present
Students will examine how a diverse group of Americans have exemplified the responsibilities of citizenship. Students will consider how these historic figures defended the principles of the Constitution and Bill of Rights through their choices and actions. Students will also reflect on how they, too, can be American heroes.
A Personal Response to American Citizenship
This lesson challenges students to reflect on the meaning of American citizenship and understand its many forms— including private action as well as public service. Students will explore avenues for individual responsibility and civic engagement before articulating their personal responses to the challenges of citizenship.