It’s one thing to simply memorize the Bill of Rights; it’s quite another to actually understand how they apply in everyday life. Teaching the former gives students words but no understanding for what they mean; teaching the latter gives students practice in critical thinking as well as a deep appreciation for their basic rights as American citizens. It is, in effect, the ultimate lesson in civics.
This activity is designed to teach students the meaning and application of the Bill of Rights by having students “be the judge;” they will read brief summaries of cases that came before the Supreme Court and decide how the Court should have ruled in applying the Bill of Rights to those actual cases. They will then learn how the Court actually ruled to help deepen their understanding of both how the Bill of Rights applies in real life, and how the Court goes about making its decisions. In effect, it has students learn to think like constitutional lawyers.
These materials – all of which have been battle-tested in the crucible of my own 8th grade classroom - include:
* a 4 page worksheet with 12 cases and discussion questions, covering the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments;
* a teacher’s guide with answers as to how the Supreme Court actually ruled in those cases, and why it made the ruling that it did;
* an 8 page Teacher’s Guide which provides step-by-step instructions how to use the materials;
All materials are provided as word documents and PDFs in one zip file.
This activity is part of a complete and comprehensive unit
on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, as well as part of a complete mini-unit
solely on the Bill of Rights.
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