The Acts of Congress

George Washington’s copy of the Acts passed at a Congress of the United States of America (New-York, 1789) contains key founding documents establishing the Union: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a record of acts passed by the first Congress. In the margins, Washington wrote “President,” “Powers,” and “Required,” underscoring the responsibilities of the first Chief Executive. Learn more about this rare volume in the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

  • Resource Type: Books
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Be Washington

Be Washington is an interactive experience in which YOU take on the role of George Washington, either as commander in chief or president. Come face to face with a leadership challenge, listen to advice from his most trusted sources, and decide how to solve the same problems Washington himself faced. Learn how Washington actually handled the situation, and see how other players voted. Play as an individual or hosts a game for a group. Lesson plans are available for each scenario. The game may be played online and is also available as an app. Visiting Mount Vernon? Make plans to play Be Washington in the Interactive Theater.

  • Resource Type: Games, Lesson Plans, Simulation
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Commemorating Presidents’ Day Resources

Teach your high school students about the constitutional legacy of George Washington, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan this Presidents’ Day. These free, ready-to-use lessons will engage your students in learning about these important presidents and how they shaped the history and Constitution of our nation. Each lesson was written and reviewed by scholars and contains questions to test student knowledge.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Power of One Decision: Brown v. Board of Education

When minority students decided to take their challenge of the “separate but equal” doctrine to the Supreme Court, the 1954 decision handed down by the court in Brown v. Board of Education and enforced by the executive branch, changed their lives and America forever. In this lesson plan, based on the Annenberg Classroom video “A Conversation on the Constitution: Brown v. Board of Education,” students gain insight into decision-making at the Supreme Court, learn about the people behind the case, construct a persuasive argument, and evaluate the significance of Brown v. Board of Education.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Rights at Risk in Wartime

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, stunned the nation. As commander-in-chief, President George W. Bush responded quickly but soon all three branches of government would be embroiled in the struggle to balance national security with the protection of individual liberties amid a war on terror. This lesson plan is based on the Annenberg Classroom video “Habeas Corpus: The Guantanamo Cases.” The four cases are examples of how the Supreme Court, the president and Congress fought to balance national security and civil liberties during the war on terror. At the heart of each case was the constitutional right of habeas corpus, the right to have one’s detention or imprisonment reviewed in court.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Advice & Consent: Choosing a Justice of the United States

According to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, “[The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint… Judges of the supreme Court….” In March 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to serve as a Justice. This lesson is designed to have students consider which issues and questions they think are important to explore in confirmation hearings.

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