Judicial Branch: Classroom Resources for All Grades

The judicial branch doesn’t get as much attention as the legislative and executive branches of our federal government. And it is the only branch whose members are not elected by the people. However, the courts play a key role in the checks and balances system of our government. The courts interpret laws and determine their constitutionality. Many people will encounter the courts only at the local or state level, either as a party in a case or as a juror. Find more than 270 classroom resources for all grades here, from a kindergarten lesson about jury selection in the trial of Goldilocks vs. the Three Bears to a high school lesson plan about the judicial nomination process.

Play the Engaging Congress Game

The Indiana University Center on Representative Government has released its new civics app, Engaging Congress. The game uses primary source documents, photographs, cartoons, maps, and other items to explore the challenges of sustaining representative democracy in our complex and diverse nation. The game app was developed with support from the Library of Congress. It’s available on Google Play or the iTunes Store.

Homework Help Videos Are Here!

The Bill of Rights Institute has created a series of Homework Help videos for teachers and students. The three- to six-minute videos are designed to help you understand complex issues that have affected American history.

Students Participate in Naturalization Ceremonies

To celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day this year, federal courts around the country organized student participation at nearly 50 naturalization ceremonies in September. Students of all ages attended these living lessons on citizenship and sang the national anthem, led the Pledge of Allegiance, or read aloud poems and letters of welcome. One eighth grader wrote: “Your simple presence on this soil only adds to our wealth of diversity. You, as every human does, deserve to pursue your own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Courts from Hawaii to New Hampshire and from Illinois to Texas involved their communities and local schools – from elementary grades to graduating law school classes. By inviting the students to take part in the ceremonies, the courts aimed to give them a better understanding of the process of becoming a citizen.

#RenewCivics – Constitution Day 2017

Schools across the nation participated in Constitution Day 2017 and shared their activities using the hashtag #RenewCivics. Here are some of our favorites.

Two New CRN Partners, More Great Resources

The Civics Renewal Network is expanding! Two more organizations have joined the network, making their resources available through the website. Two of their resources are highlighted in this newsletter. Here’s an introduction.

Teaching Controversial Topics? Here’s Help

This month, we’re featuring classroom activities on the judicial branch as the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee opens confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on March 20.

How to Use the CRN Website

Are you a newcomer to the Civics Renewal Network website? Watch this brief video to learn more about all the features that you can find on the website.

How to Teach Controversial Topics and Civil Debate

How can sensitive issues such as immigration, racial discrimination, politics and government, and police behavior be debated in a civil manner? Our civics education resources provide a foundational knowledge for students to use in engaging in discussions about controversial topics.

New Citizens Take Oath Coast to Coast

This year, as part of the U.S. courts’ annual, national initiative, federal judges swore in thousands of new citizens at more than 40 ceremonies throughout the country, including at many national historic places and national parks. The locations were chosen to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and to mark Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, which each September commemorates the signing of the Constitution in 1787 and the rights and privileges of American citizenship. The video above features highlights from naturalization ceremonies at iconic sites from Ellis Island in New York to Yosemite National Park in California, captured on video by the staff of participating federal courts across the country. The events were a joint effort by the courts, the park service, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Civics Renewal Network.