Most Despised U.S. Presidents

This lesson explores why five U.S. presidents were hated by groups of Americans, including Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon. Students will explore materials from C-SPAN’s Presidential Survey and engage in a choice board activity. The lesson culminates with students reflecting on how presidents have been criticized historically and in contemporary times and offers two extension activities.

Grades 6-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Voting Rights Marches in Selma

In March of 1965, civil rights activists and religious leaders marched from Selma to Montgomery to demand African Americans be given the right to vote. In this lesson, students will hear about the factors that contributed to the marches that occurred in Selma as well as visit key locations in the area and view archived video of the events that unfolded.

Grades 6-12
Federal Government
Lesson Plans

First Amendment Freedoms Choice Board

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution provides for freedoms: freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. This lesson has students examine the concepts of these freedoms through a variety of perspectives and explore current examples through video-based resources. This lesson works well in classes with one-to-one devices or could be adapted to fit a flipped classroom.

Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Foundations of Democracy
Interactives

Choice Board: Our Founding Documents

This document is a choice board covering 12 different topics related to the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. Students are linked to a C-SPAN video and other .gov source, and then have specific activities to complete for each topic. Teachers can customize this document as needed — the current directions ask students to complete 6 topics, but that can be adjusted. This is a multi-day activity that can be done in person or via distance learning.

Grades 6-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

The Bill of Rights Choice Board

The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, adopted through ratification, are collectively referred to as the Bill of Rights. As the first nine outline fundamental guarantees to the citizenry and the tenth reserves some governmental powers to the state governments, the Bill of Rights establishes limitations on the scope of the federal government.

Grades 6-12
Foundations of Democracy
Interactives

Constitutional Debate Choice Board: George Mason vs. James Madison

The Articles of Confederation, ratified on March 1, 1781, created a loose confederation of sovereign states along with a weak central government. After several years living under the provisions of this document, the idea of establishing a stronger central government emerged. This led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Debates surrounding the ratification of the new document followed, with the Federalists supporting the ratification of the Constitution, and the Anti-Federalists opposing it, concerned it provided too much power to a central government. In this lesson, students will view videos of Virginian Founding Fathers James Madison and George Mason debating issues related to the Constitution.

Grades 6-12
Foundations of Democracy
Interactives

First Amendment: Student Freedom of Speech

The First Amendment’s right to free speech is one of our most important rights as citizens. But what does freedom of speech mean for students in public schools? How do you balance a school’s need for order with a student’s right to free expression? This film explores the evolution of student free speech rights through Supreme Court cases, from Tinker v. Des Moines to Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., the case of the Snapchatting cheerleader.

Rule of Law for All Curriculum

Rule of law is a founding principle of the United States and a bedrock of democracy. It ensures that no one is above the law, that laws are publicly and widely known, that laws apply equally to all and are equally enforced, and that disputes are settled by an independent judiciary. This textbook definition is in contrast with many Americans’ lived experiences. For some people in the United States, particularly the most marginalized, rule of law has always been in crisis. Though the term “rule of law” may rarely be mentioned in state standards, its concepts are embedded in many social studies courses. Fundamental rights, limiting and balancing government power, and an open and transparent government are just a few of these concepts. These Street Law-designed lessons and resources are designed for flexibility and ease of use. The seven core lessons have been designed with middle and high school social studies teachers in mind, for courses ranging from U.S. history to civics and law to global studies. The eight lessons are: Introduction to Rule of Law; Controlling Corruption and Abuse of Power; Open and Transparent Government; Fair and Effective Court System; Fundamental Rights; Peace and Stability; Limiting and Balancing Government Power; and the Culminating Activity: Addressing a Rule of Law Change in My Community.

Grades 7-12
Foundations of Democracy
Modules (Teaching Unit)