Constitutional Rights Supreme Court PBL Unit Print & Digital

Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
  • Google Apps™
118 PDF + 63 Google Slide pages + 85 PPT slides
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Dig into the very real and relevant topic of the everyday rights each and every American is guaranteed, challenging your students to explore the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the 9 Justices of the Supreme Court, and landmark Supreme Court cases of free speech, privacy, criminal rights, and equality in this inquiry-driven, primary source-based PBL unit that asks, “How are my Constitutional rights defined?”

Check out the Preview for a detailed look at this compelling unit or download the FREE Unit-At-A-Glance.

This unit comes in two formats: print PDF and digital for Google Slides.


Greatness is knowing and exercising the freedoms and rights guaranteed to us

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 the rights guaranteed to us, by making your teaching stick beyond the unit test through visceral and relevant activities and projects.

This year, let’s leave the way-out-of-date government textbook behind and take students straight to founding documents and Supreme Court decisions, as well as today's political cartoons, news articles, survey data, and web-based research to make learning memorable.

The strength of an inquiry, thematic unit like this is your ability to immediately make abstract concepts into intriguing and relevant lessons: each engaging activity builds towards the unit's driving question and students create their own free speech artifact that excises and complies with their rights.

This unit can be done well in 4-5 weeks, based on the combination of activities you select!

Included in this complete unit:


  • Teacher Unit Overview with general notes, links, standards, and a pacing guide
  • Daily Lesson Plans with step-by-step details, planning, and lesson takeaway notes
  • Detailed Answer Keys for each activity
  • Editable PPT file to assist in lessons throughout unit
  • Student Unit Review and Skills handouts with self-checking questions and "I Can..." statements
  • Student Unit Notes sheet for building deep and nuanced mastery of concepts over the course of the unit using powerful graphic organizers
  • Student Skill Handouts that include Analyzing News Media Sources, Analyzing Political Cartoons, Annotating a Text, Deciding a Precise Position, Constructing a Thesis, Including Evidence, Finding Appropriate Sources, Creating a Works Cited, Annotating a Source, and Creating an Annotated Works Cited

Student Activities

  • Unit Hook: shock your students’ incoming knowledge of their Constitutional rights
  • Three Branches Comparison Chart and Checks & Balances Flowchart: build on these reference notes throughout the whole unit
  • 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
  • Current Supreme Court: research and peer-teach the current members of the highest court
  • Landmark Supreme Court Cases: research and peer-teach the facts of famous cases that have helped define many of our basic rights
  • Podcasts: listen and note take to two engaging Civics 101 podcasts, which can be done in class or part of a "flipped" classroom set-up

2 Summative Assessments

  • End-of-Unit Essay support your students with a collaborative brainstorm review activity, detailed instructions, outline template, sentence stems, and rubrics, that encapsulates their complete understanding by arguing their answer to the not-so-simple question, “How are my Constitutional rights defined?”
  • School-Sponsored Speech Project after guiding students through a close look of free speech in the public school setting, provide them with the opportunity to take a stand and create a political message of their own, either by making a t-shirt, button, or a backpack tag, supported by a process paper and works cited sheet and included step-by-step guides and forms

Note to Homeschoolers

Though the included teacher lesson plans 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 by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and a central high-interest question
  • a wide ability range can easily access the rich variety of sources utilized in this unit,
  • your student’s voice is central to each activity, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
  • most 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 one activity can easily be left out to customize for your student’s skill level or personal interest


Want a shortened version of this unit?

Supreme Court and Constitutional Rights Mini Unit

Looking for more Civics & Government PBL units?

Foundations of American Democracy examine the principles and values on which our government is founded

Voting & Elections Unit explore a variety of voting issues; universal for any upcoming election

Three Branches Unit contrast how the federal government works in theory and in practice

Want to browse the full curriculum?

Civics to Empower Whole Course Bundle teach this inquiry-driven and project-based semester course with confidence!

This listing is for one license for regular, non-commercial classroom use by a single teacher only. In upholding copyright law, PDF resources are uneditable and resources made for Google Classroom have some editing abilities. By purchasing a license to this resource, you have access to all future updates at no cost, available under “My Purchases". Multiple and transferable licenses are available for purchase. To request a complete terms of use prior to purchase or if you have any questions about this resource, please leave a question below under Product Q&A.

Total Pages
118 PDF + 63 Google Slide pages + 85 PPT slides
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
1 month
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


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