National Endowment for the Humanities, EDSITEment Project

EDSITEment, the National Endowment for the Humanities website for K-12 educators, students, and life-long learners offers “The Best of the Web” through carefully-crafted and reviewed lesson plans, websites, features, and student interactives in major humanities subject areas. Also discover a rich selection of NEH-funded products of special interest to teachers; professional development opportunities; and articles chosen for the classroom from NEH’s award-winning bimonthly magazine, Humanities.

Featured Resources

The President’s Roles and Responsibilities: Communicating with the President

In order to become informed participants in a democracy, students must learn about the women and men who make decisions concerning their lives, their country, and the world. The president of the United States is one such leader. As a nation, we place no greater responsibility on any one individual than we do on the president. Through several activites, students learn about the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. president and their own roles as citizens of a democracy.

The First Amendment: What’s Fair in a Free Country?

Young people have a profound sense of the importance of fairness. “It’s not fair” is often used as a one-size-fits-all argument when a child feels victimized. In situations where the child has an interest in protecting his or her actions, “It’s a free country!” is often the argument of choice. On the other hand, children are very sensitive about speech and policies they consider to have a negative effect on their well-being.

Balancing rights and responsibilities is difficult, even for the Supreme Court. This lesson demonstrates to students that doctrine of freedom of speech and its proper application is an ongoing process.

The Constitutional Convention: What the Founding Fathers Said

By examining records of the Constitutional Convention, such as James Madison’s extensive notes, students witness the unfolding drama of the Constitutional Convention and the contributions of those who have come to be known as the Founding Fathers: Madison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and others who played major roles in founding a new nation. In this lesson, students will learn how the Founding Fathers debated, and then resolved, their differences as they drafted the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitutional Convention: Four Founding Fathers You May Never Have Met

Introduce your students to four key, but relatively unknown, contributors to the U.S. Constitution — Oliver Ellsworth, Alexander Hamilton, William Paterson, and Edmund Randolph. Learn through their words and the words of others how the Founding Fathers created “a model of cooperative statesmanship and the art of compromise.”

The Federalist Debates: Balancing Power Between State and Federal Governments

This series of activities introduces students to one of the most hotly debated issues during the formation of the American government — how much power the federal government should have — or alternatively, how much liberty states and citizens should have.

By tracing the U.S. federal system of government to its roots, established by America’s Founding Fathers in the late 18th century, student examine the controversial issue of state sovereignty versus federal power. Students compare the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution, analyzing why weaknesses in the former led to the creation of the latter. Then they examine the resulting system of government formed by the Constitution.

The Supreme Court: The Judicial Power of the United States

This lesson provides an introduction to the Supreme Court. Students will learn basic facts about the Supreme Court by examining the United States Constitution and one of the landmark cases decided by that court. The lesson is designed to help students understand how the Supreme Court operates.

The federal judiciary, which includes the Supreme Court as well as the district and circuit courts, is one of three branches of the federal government. The judiciary has played a key role in American history and remains a powerful voice in resolving contemporary controversies. The first governing document of this nation, the Articles of Confederation, gave Congress certain judicial powers, but did not establish a distinct federal court system.

Magna Carta: Cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution

Magna Carta served to lay the foundation for later declarations of rights in England and the United States. In attempting to establish checks on the king’s powers, this document asserted the right of “due process” of law. It also provided the basis for an idea of a “higher law,” one that could not be altered either by executive mandate or legislative acts. This concept, embraced by the leaders of the American Revolution, is embedded in the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution.

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