Teaching the Reconstruction Amendments

While Reconstruction is arguably the least well known and most misunderstood era in U.S. History, the Reconstruction Amendments are among the most important for understanding our government, politics, and law. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were intended to profoundly reshape the Constitution so much so that many scholars refer to their provisions as part of the “Second Founding.”

For the sesquicentennial of the Reconstruction era, we offer the best online resources for teaching the origins of these amendments, their evolving interpretation by the courts, and the continuing controversies they give rise to, within the overall constitutional system.Below is a sample of the rich and varied collection of free digital materials available to AP U.S. History and Government teachers from the Civics Renewal Network.

Free Constitution Course Available On Demand

Introduction to Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases explores the Constitution’s origins and its changes over the years, from the initial burst of amendments that brought us the Bill of Rights, through the bloody disruption of the Civil War and into the 20th and 21st centuries.

CRN Presentation at the MSCSS Conference

Thank you to the teachers and students who attended the Civics Renewal Network’s session at the Middle States Council for the Social Studies Conference in Annapolis, Md. on Feb. 26-27.

Using the Civics Renewal Network Website

Welcome! This video shows how to navigate the Civics Renewal Network website and search for resources and explains the easy process of creating an account so you can bookmark resources.


Schools across the nation participated in the 2015 Preamble Challenge on Constitution Day. Students pledged to recite the Preamble to the US Constitution in creative ways. Here are some of our favorites.


Nearly 900 schools across the nation participated in 2014’s Preamble Challenge on Constitution Day, led by the National Constitution Center. Students who participated in the Civics Renewal Network’s Constitution Day program in Washington, D.C., recited the Preamble at the U.S. Capitol.

Stewarding America: Institutions and Civic Life

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences organized this discussion on the current state of American civic life as part of the Civics Renewal Network’s efforts to raise awareness of the importance of civics education on Constitution Day, September 17, 2014. The panelists are Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research; Stephen Heintz, Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the Honorable Patricia Wald, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit; Joel Klein, News Corps, formerly, New York City Department of Education; former Rep. Mickey Edwards, Aspen Institute.

Watch Our Founders Debate the Bill of Rights

Some of our nation’s founders — James Madison, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson — engage in a lively debate on the Bill of Rights. Historian and author Carol Berkin is the moderator of the discussion, which was part of the Civics Renewal Network’s Constitution Day 2014 program in Washington, D.C.

2014 Student Projects

The Civics Renewal Network brought four dozen students from across the nation to Washington, D.C., for a Constitution Day program. These middle and high school students used their civic skills and knowledge to improve their school or community.

2014 Naturalization Ceremonies

Organized by the Federal Courts, nearly 30 naturalization ceremonies were held across the country as part of the Constitution Day and Citizenship Day celebration. This is the first year that the Federal Courts coordinated a nationwide celebration involving naturalization events. Federal judges administered the oath of citizenship to an estimated 8,500 new citizens in ceremonies from Yosemite Park in California to the Alamo in Texas and the Thurgood Marshall Federal Courthouse in New York City. Many students witnessed or took part in the ceremonies by reciting the Constitution’s Preamble.