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Explore our least-known branch of government through a very real and relevant lens that will engage each of your students. Challenge them to explore the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the 9 Justices of the Supreme Court, and landmark cases of free speech, privacy, criminal rights, and equality in this inquiry-driven, collaborative-based PBL unit that asks, “How are my Constitutional rights defined?”
By the end of this unit, your students will be able to:
- Annotate, analyze, and paraphrase various legal and scholarly works
- Research, evaluate, and cite high-quality online resources
- Utilize digital publishing tools to peer-teach complex topics
- Work collaboratively to weigh ethical issues, coming to a consensus
- Demonstrate mastery through an extended document-based essay and an authentic project
Culminate learning with:
- Document-Based Essay, by supporting your students with a wide variety of real-world sources, review activity, outline template, sentence stems, and rubrics, that requires them to encapsulate their understanding of the entire unit by arguing their answer to the not-so-simple question, “How are my Constitutional rights defined?”
- Student Speech Project, by guiding your students to deeply master the fine distinctions of one aspect of Constitutional law- student speech at public school- through various activities ending with creating and wearing a Constitutionally-protected political message of their own.
Check out the Preview for a detailed look at this compelling unit or download the FREE Unit-At-A-Glance.
Note: a mini 2-3 week version of this unit is available if you are short on time!
Greatness is appreciating the carefully considered, balanced, and value-based decision-making process that creates the rights we use every day.
Fewer than half of Americans (43%) can name even ONE Supreme Court Justice or even ONE right guaranteed by the First Amendment (48%).
Don’t let your students be on the wrong side of either of these abysmal statistics, which puts into jeopardy a whole host of rights guaranteed to us, by making your teaching stick beyond the unit test with these visceral and relevant activities and project.
This year, let’s leave the way-out-of-date government textbook behind and take students straight to the front-page news of today with primary sources, news articles, data graphs, web-based research, and student-created teaching tools to make their learning memorable.
Everything you need for this unit is included: project samples and step-by-step directions, rubrics and answer keys, bell ringers and exit tickets, handouts and links to online resources, and detailed daily lesson plans. Even better, you'll always be able to download annually updated resources for free!
This unit can be done well in anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks, based on the combination of activities you select!
Included in this complete unit:
- Unit At-A-Glance sheet and 9 pages of detailed daily lesson plans from the unit hook to the final assessment for you
- Graphic organizer and concept definition sheet for unit-long note taking for your students
7 Main Activities 1- to 3-class period long lessons, depending on customizations
- Unit Hook: shock your students’ incoming knowledge of their Constitutional rights
- Common Good vs. Individual Liberties: weigh the never-ending efforts to balance the two, by analyzing quotes from Founding Fathers to current members of Congress
- Original Constitution: closely explore the basic structure, powers, and requirements of the 3 Judicial branch and the supremacy of this central document
- My Bill of Rights: dissect the essential rights of Americans regarding free expression, privacy, criminal proceedings, and equality
- Differing Interpretations: carefully consider the approaches of strict and loose interpretation, which create the basis of so much debate in our country
- Supreme Court Line Up: research and peer-teach the current members of the highest court (will be updated once Justice Kennedy’s successor is confirmed!)
- Landmark Supreme Court Cases: research and peer-teach the facts of famous cases that have helped define many of our basic rights
2 Summative Assessments
- “How are my Constitutional rights defined?” DBQ essay with review activity, detailed outline form, writing sheets, and rubric sheets (CCSS and generic)
- Student Speech Project with step-by-step project overview, background activities, handouts, and rubric sheets (CCSS and generic)
- Supplemental editable PowerPoint file with 90 slides of images, student directions, and links
- Answer Keys and Rubrics for activities
- 5 Skill Sheet Handouts: Annotating a Text, Analyzing News Media Sources, Finding Appropriate Sources, Creating a Works Cited, Annotating a Citation
Note to Homeschoolers
Though the included teacher lesson plans and PPT slides are written to fully support a traditional classroom teacher, this resource is also a great fit for your teenage homeschooler:
- the inquiry, thematic structure of this unit is driven more by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and a central high-interest question than any one set of state-specific, grade-specific content standards
- a wide age and ability range can easily access the rich variety of sources utilized in this unit, making it perfect for a multi-grade group
- your student’s voice is central to each activity, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
- activities can be completed independently and aren’t solely reliant on group or whole-class work
- all utilized sources are free and easily obtainable; either included or accessible online (links provided)
- this unit is independent of a textbook, though one could be used for greater background knowledge
- any activity can easily be left out to customize for your student’s skill level or personal interest
Want a shortened version of this unit?
Want more American Government / Civics resources?
Citizenship Test and Op-Ed Project make citizens out of your students with this semester-long project
Political Service Project make community members out of your students with this semester-long project
3 Branches Unit contrast how the federal government works in theory and in practice
Votingand Mock Election Unit explore a variety of voting issues; universal for any upcoming election
Constitutional Issues Research Paper Project end with a highly-scaffolded, college-ready research paper
Want the whole semester AND save big?
American Government / Civics MEGA Bundle get the whole course at once!