The Civil Rights Movement: Major Events and Legacies

James Patterson provides an overview of the movement, reminding us that the roots lay in the early twentieth century with the founding of the NAACP and the National Urban League and that efforts to secure equality continued through the 1940s and the postwar years. Patterson shows the variety of arenas in which the modern civil rights movement operated, from the courtrooms and legislative halls of the nation to the streets of Birmingham and the highways of Alabama and Mississippi.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Alabama v. Shelton (2002)

Does the Sixth Amendment right to appointed counsel apply to a defendant who was sentenced to a suspended sentence? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2002.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Miller v. Alabama (2012)

Does a sentence of life without parole for a 14-year-old convicted of murder violate the Eighth Amendment? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2012.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

American Reformers (CKHG Unit)

This unit (the second part of Early Presidents and Social Reformers) focuses on the efforts to improve American society in the early 1800s. Across 6 lessons, students learn about the temperance movement, free public education, the abolitionists’ crusade to abolish slavery, and the early women’s rights movement. The unit explores early reformers’ legacy in ongoing modern-day struggles for equality and civil rights.

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

Letter From Birmingham City Jail (Excerpts), Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK was leading a demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama where it was forbidden to make demonstrations. This was the first time King had decided to break the law for he believed that the law was unjust. While incarcerated he wrote a letter in reply to a letter published about accusations made on him in the Birmingham Post Herald.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Our Rights

The book Our Rights, written by David J. Bodenhamer, uses historical case studies to explore the rights in the Constitution. Supreme Court cases are used to demonstrate how a right received its modern interpretation, how the right applies today, and how courts and other interpreters seek to balance this right with important societal concerns such as public safety. The complete book or individual chapters can be downloaded.

  • Resource Type: Books
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades:

The Sixth Amendment and Teens

What does the Sixth Amendment mean in the lives of teens? Landmark Supreme Court decisions have made the Sixth Amendment relevant to high school students, whether they become future jurors or defendants. These activities, which engage all learning styles, apply Supreme Court precedents to relatable, teen scenarios. The resources, which have been well tested in federal courtrooms across the country, are ready for immediate use in courtrooms and classrooms with no additional preparation.

  • Resource Type: Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Bill of Rights: Debating the Amendments

In this lesson, students will examine a copy of twelve possible amendments to the United States Constitution as originally sent to the states for their ratification in September of 1789. Students will debate and vote on which of these amendments they would ratify and compare their resulting “Bill of Rights” to the ten amendments ratified by ten states that have since been known by this name.

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

The Constitution: Counter Revolution or National Salvation

It is Fall 1787. The Federal Convention has recently concluded its closed door meetings in Philadelphia and presented the nation with a new model for the government. It is now up to each special state convention to decide whether to replace the Articles of Confederation with this new constitution. The debate is passionate and speaks directly to what the founding fathers had in mind in conceiving this new nation. Does this new government represent salvation or downfall?

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Constitution: Drafting a More Perfect Union

Students will analyze an unidentified historical document and draw conclusions about what this document was for, who created it, and why. After the document is identified as George Washington’s annotated copy of the Committee of Style’s draft constitution, students will compare its text to that of an earlier draft by the Committee of Detail to understand its evolution.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12