LegalTimelines.org

LegalTimelines.org is an interactive, educational site designed to teach middle and high school students about the historical evolution of U.S. laws on important contemporary legal issues. The site currently features three timelines that take students through the legal history of suffrage, federalism, and the legal rights of the accused. Each timeline is rich with engaging

The War on Terror and the Debate Over Torture

This 13-minute video and lesson plan are designed for students to analyze the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the public debate over the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by U.S. officials and government contractors. Students will evaluate multiple perspectives from a mix of resources (video clips, a short film, documents and political cartoons) and classify arguments as being supportive, neutral or critical of government action.

Literature-Based Mock Trial Lessons

This literature based mock trial format provides a dynamic interactive opportunity for K-8 students to develop higher-level thinking skills, as well as gain a deeper understanding of the U.S. judicial system and constitutional principles. The Rendell Center’s Mock Trial framework is easy to follow, and its lesson plans – based on classic or classroom pieces of literature – provide teachers with the tools and guidance needed to help their class write and argue a mock trial, and actively take on the roles of defendant, lawyers, witnesses, jurors, and court officials.

9/11 and Civil Liberties

This lesson explores the challenges the United States faced as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and examines the government’s response through the lens of protection and civil liberties. Students will consider the long-term effects of the emergency measures, their consequences and constitutionality, and how they might inform the balance between security and liberty today.

The Bill of Rights

In this series of videos, students will hear from constitutional scholars such as Professor Tracey Meares of Yale University, Professor Orin Kerr of George Washington University, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of Berkeley Law, and Michael McConnell, the director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center. In these videos, two scholars discuss their interpretations of the amendments, often giving different points of view and interpretations.

The Bill of Rights in Modern Times

In this lesson, students will learn about the individual rights that are included in the Bill of Rights and current issues relating to them. Students will use C-SPAN Classroom’s Constitution Clips to explore what each of these rights mean and determine how these rights apply to current events in America. This lesson works well with classes with one-to-one devices or in flipped classrooms.

Constitution Clips

C-SPAN’s Constitution Clips makes the U.S. Constitution come alive by providing teachers and students with video clips from C-SPAN’s Video Library of the Constitution in action. 

60-Second Civics Podcasts

60-Second Civics is a podcast that provides a quick and convenient way for listeners to learn about our nation’s government, the Constitution, and our history. The podcast explores themes related to civics and government, the constitutional issues behind the headlines, and the people and ideas that formed our nation’s history and government. The show’s content is primarily derived from the Center for Civic Education’s education for democracy curricula, including We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, Foundations of Democracy, and Elements of Democracy. It’s easy to subscribe! Listen on iTunes or Stitcher or subscribe via RSS.

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions is a national initiative of the federal courts that brings high school and college students into federal courthouses for legal proceedings that stem from situations in which law-abiding young people can find themselves. These court hearings (not mock trials) are realistic simulations that showcase jury deliberations in which all students and learning styles participate, using civil discourse skills. This activity includes: Reality Check Quiz and Discussion Starter; Civil Discourse Skill Building; Courtroom Simulation; and Reality Check Discussion.

Your Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona

In 1966, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Miranda v. Arizona dramatically changed criminal procedures. The Court linked the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination to the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a right to counsel and applied both to protect a suspect’s rights from arrest through trial. This lesson plan is based on the Annenberg Classroom video “The Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona.”