Take a spin through the lesson plans and see what suits you best. All the lesson plans are tagged for grade level, subject, and standard, so you can quickly sort through and find what you're looking for. Consider using the Interactive Constitution for in-class activities as you explore the history of the Constitution and its creation; use it in class to discuss current events like Supreme Court decisions or legal issues in the news. Have students research the authors of the short essays that describe interpretations of the Constitution. Who are these people? What might their biases be, or why might they be a proponent of the perspective they take here? The podcasts and blog entries might also work great as fodder for ongoing current events, reading or prompts for journaling, or in-class debates.Continue reading Show less
The National Constitution Center website is the online home of the Philadelphia museum of the same name. The site's biggest feature is its Interactive Constitution, which users can access by clicking "Explore the Constitution" on the homepage. The site also features info for visitors (in the Visit, Exhibits & Programs, and About sections), plus the Learn and Debate sections for those who aren't near the physical museum. The Learn section includes the Constitution Hall Pass (a series of videos and live Web chats), a section on Civic Holidays, an Educational Resources section (including Lesson Plans, Activities, Games, and Historical Documents), and links to book traveling exhibitions and professional development opportunities. The Debate tab links to upcoming in-person conversations about the Constitution at locations around the country, plus a blog (updated daily) and a podcast (with new episodes weekly).
The Interactive Constitution might be this site's best feature. Kids can view each article and amendment side-by-side with common interpretations and key facts. These interpretations come from heavy hitters, including law school professors and other scholars of the law, and it's an excellent resource for digging deep into the Constitution as a vibrant document that continues to shape law and life in our country. The Constitution Daily Blog and the weekly podcasts are also great resources. These stories are chock-full of great details about how this "living document" has constant, critical relevance to Americans' daily lives.
Other features are more uneven. The Games and Activities don't have learning especially baked in (though it might be fun to click to reveal First Amendment freedoms or build Ben Franklin's kite), and built-in multiple-choice questions feature obviously incorrect distracter answers, limiting their impact and potential to provoke critical thinking. Other games have good features but work inconsistently. For example, the Seize the Vote game offers a good intro to voting rights but has some confusing gameplay, plus it's Flash-based and won't work on iOS devices. The lesson plans offer great details on their standards alignment and grade levels, but their quality varies. Be sure to download the PDFs and study what's included to see what's turn-key and what will need more support. While these features aren't excellent, there's enough good content on this site to make this a worthy resource for your classroom.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.
By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.
Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
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.
By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
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.
By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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