The Constitutional Convention of 1787

In this unit, students will examine the roles that key American founders played in creating the Constitution, and the challenges they faced in the process. They will learn why many Americans in the 1780s believed that reforms to the Articles of Confederation were necessary, and the steps taken to authorize the 1787 Convention in Philadelphia. They will become familiar with the main issues that divided delegates at the Convention, particularly the questions of representation in Congress and the office of the presidency. Finally, they will see how a spirit of compromise, in the end, was necessary for the Convention to fulfill its task of improving the American political system.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Role of the Judiciary

In this lesson, students learn about the judicial system, aka the judiciary. First, students read and discuss an article on the role, structure, and principles of the judiciary. Next, they participate in a Civil Conversation on the reading. In this structured discussion method, under the guidance of a facilitator (the teacher), participants are encouraged to engage intellectually with challenging materials.

  • Resource Type: Descriptive Text, Interactives, Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Learning about the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution

This resource provides students with an English language video and associated student friendly readings (in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole), as well as reading and video guides and self assessment tools. Using these, students will explore the meaning and importance of the Preamble.
Free registration is required to use the resource.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Descriptive Text, ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Quizzes, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Learning About Articles I, II, and III!

This resource provides students with an English language video and associated student friendly readings (in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole), as well as reading and video guides and self assessment tools. Using these, students will explore the basic foundation of the Constitution contained in Articles I, II, and III.
Free registration is required to use the resource.

  • Resource Type: ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Quizzes, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Citizen Obligations and Responsibilities

This resource provides students with an English language video and associated student friendly readings (in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole), as well as reading and video guides and self assessment tools. Using these, students will explore the obligations and responsibilities of citizenship.
Free registration is required to use the resource.

  • Resource Type: ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Quizzes, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Why Do People Form Governments?

This short lesson, targeting early elementary, is intended to introduce students to the concept of government and how one of the most important purposes of government is to keep us safe. Students will also be introduced to the Constitution and the three branches of government.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 1, 2, 3

Anyone Home? Using Political Cartoons to Consider the Lawmaking Process

This secondary level lesson plan, developed in collaboration with the National Archives, draws on the legendary political cartoons of Clifford Berryman to consider the lawmaking process. Students analyze the cartoon and describe how it illustrates the process. It aligns with both Common Core ELA standards and C3 Framework components.

  • Resource Type: Editorial Cartoons, Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Northwest Ordinance and Westward Expansion

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 changed American history. It provided that new states shared coequal status with the original thirteen states. It set out the process for territories to become states and it was the first and only federal anti-slavery policy pre- Civil War. While the Ordinance also established the orderly westward expansion it did so at the expense of Native Americans already living in the territory.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: History
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12