The American Founding: The Bill of Rights

This comprehensive, multimedia online exhibit features a trove of resources on the Bill of Rights. Part I contains the English, Colonial, State, and Continental origins of the Bill of Rights; Part II features the Federalist/Antifederalist Debate over the Bill of Rights; and Part III explains the politics of the Bill of Rights in the First Congress through its adoption.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Interactives, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Constitution in Action – State Challenges to Federal Authority: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

Students in this simulation, as Republican members of the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures in 1798 and 1799, consider how they will oppose the Alien and Sedition Acts. Students will then act as members of other state legislatures and consider how to respond to Kentucky and Virginia. By engaging in this historical moment, students will wrestle with the ongoing tension between the Article VI, Clause 2, of the Constitution, which establishes the federal government as the “supreme Law of the Land,” and the Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers “not delegated to the United States” to the states or the people.

  • Resource Type: Interactives, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Constitution of the United States with Index and the Declaration of Independence, Pocket Edition

This is the 25th pocket edition of the complete text of two core documents of American democracy, the Constitution of the United States (with amendments) and the Declaration of Independence. The resolution calling for the ratification of Constitutional Convention is also included. A topical index to the Constitution is provided. (House Document 112-29, 2012)

  • Resource Type: Books, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Civic Action and Change (Lesson Plan and Powerpoint)

Students explore examples of civic action and change by looking at the efforts in four movements in the 20th century; women’s rights, disability awareness, Native American rights, and migrant worker rights. Through these examples, student will describe the process of civic action through the I AM chart (Inform, Act, Maintain).

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Colonial Influences (Lesson Plan and Powerpoint)

American colonists had some strong ideas about what they wanted in a government. These ideas surface in colonial documents, and eventually became a part of the founding documents like the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. But where did they come from? This lesson looks at the Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, English Bill of Rights, Cato’s Letters and Common Sense.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Grade 6-8 The Bill of Rights & Me

The purpose of this lesson is to investigate the Bill of Rights through the perspective of someone living during the ratification period. After exploring the historical perspective of the Bill of Rights through study of the Dissent of the Minority in Pennsylvania, students will be asked to apply the rights they learned about to their lives today and assess, critique, and solve problems based on the modern meaning of these rights.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

The Story of the Bill of Rights

This documentary tells the story of these individual freedoms that often are taken for granted today. But in 1787, when they were first discussed at the Constitutional Convention, the Founding Fathers rejected them. Why were these rights controversial then? The full story about these rights, including what they say and what they mean, is explained. Ten short videos examine each of the amendments in the Bill of Rights.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Special Needs/Language Focus, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Our Constitution

The Our Constitution book, written by Donald A. Ritchie and JusticeLearning.org, takes an in-depth look at the Constitution, annotated with detailed explanations of its terms and contents. Included are texts of primary source materials, sidebar material on each article and amendment, profiles of Supreme Court cases, and timelines. The complete book or individual chapters can be downloaded.

  • Resource Type: Books
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Introduction to the Bill of Rights

No unreasonable search and seizure. Freedom of speech. No cruel and unusual punishment. Right to trial by jury. These phrases from the Bill of Rights are often seen by students as just more information to memorize. To truly understand the importance of the protections in the Bill of Rights, students must be asked to apply and discuss the amendments. This lesson is designed to help them do just that—apply the amendments to hypothetical situations and discuss their importance.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8