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

Early Presidents (CKHG Unit)

This unit (first half of Early Presidents and Social Reformers) focuses on the first seven presidents of the United States. Across 9 lessons, students learn about how the early presidents organized the federal government, built a national capital, directed a second war with Great Britain, more than doubled the size of the country, and formulated a “hands-off” foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Books, Descriptive Text, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Timelines
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

The United States Constitution (CKHG Unit)

This unit explores the creation and central ideas of the United States Constitution. Across 18 lessons, students learn how, after the Revolution, the Founding Fathers worked to confront the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation. They learn why the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, and explore reasons why the Constitution has survived as the guiding document of government in the United States.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Books, Descriptive Text, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Timelines
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Drafting the Nation

As the Framers drafted different versions of our founding documents, their ideas of what it meant to be a republic also changed. In this unit, four lessons based on the drafts of the Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, held at the collection at HSP, allow students to explore the language and ideas behind these pivotal documents

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

230 Years of the United States Constitution

The Constitution has stood as both the plan for the American system of government and through its 27 amendments, a summary of the political values of generations of Americans. This resource has been assembled to help teachers and anyone interested in the Constitution better understand and appreciate it, using the document itself and other original works contemporaneous with it.

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

The Constitution in Action – Origin of the Bill of Rights: Madison’s Amendments

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This lesson places students at the First Federal Congress and asks them to respond to the amendments James Madison proposed on June 8, 1789. Which of Madison’s proposals should they amend to the Constitution? Should they consider amendments proposed at state ratifying conventions as well? Whatever they decide, should amendments be placed at the end of the Constitution or woven into the body of the text, as Madison preferred?

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

The Constitutional Convention: To Sign or Not to Sign (Option B: Student-Generated Constitution)

NOTE: This lesson is for classes that have completed other components of ConSource’s Constitutional Convention Simulation unit. Classes that have not engaged with other lessons in this unit should use Option A, in which students decide whether to sign the historical Constitution. Teachers whose classes have participated in the ConSource simulation can use either Option A, in which students decide whether to sign the historical Constitution, or Option B, in which students decide whether to sign the student-generated constitution. They can also choose to do both lessons.

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