Although created by academics for government officials who are writing new constitutions, this site offers many classroom applications. For direct student use, a lesson could be developed in which students pick a specific topic or issue and research how it is addressed by the constitutions of different countries. With preparation, you could pull excerpts for a primary-document analysis of constitutional issues.
Another possible use is to have students create visual representations about a specific topic to break down the complex issues addressed in the constitution. This type of activity would be especially valuable for English language learners who are learning both vocabulary and content. Finally, reviewing and comparing a number of constitutions could serve as valuable background for creating an original constitution, perhaps as a culminating activity.Continue reading Show less
Constitute is a website that enables you to read, search, and compare constitutions from around the world. Searches can be filtered by country, region, date, or topic. Currently, 191 constitutions are available for review and analysis in English, while Arabic Constitute includes 54 independent states' constitutions. The topic filter sorts constitutions based on selected issues and important provisions. For example, you can find specific information about religion, citizenship, or guaranteed rights without reading the entire document. In addition, you can compare and contrast multiple constitutions on a particular topic, such as the election process or the structure of government, by selecting that tag and viewing the sections of a constitution that relates to that theme. You can also choose to view multiple constitutions side by side, and you can pin those comparisons and your observations to another space to keep track of your reactions Documents or excerpts can be viewed online or downloaded as PDF files.
The educational value of Constitute is as a resource for reviewing and analyzing primary documents. Teachers will need to create relevant curriculum for their individual classes. As is, the documents are written at a high level with much “legalese” (difficult vocabulary) and are probably best suited for advanced learners. If used with general education students, providing definitions of key terms and using short excerpts would be beneficial. The site has a clean and simple layout and is easy to navigate, even if the highly specialized legal language can seem impenetrable for a lay audience.
Students from different countries may find it interesting to compare the U.S. Constitution with the one from their country of origin in a variety of different areas. Constitute is definitely a time saver for finding, sorting, and excerpting constitutions, and for helping students explore the topics of rights, laws, and government.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.
Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
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.
Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
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.
Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.