When National Security Trumps Individual Rights

On December 18, 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of its most controversial decisions when it upheld the government’s decision to intern all persons of Japanese ancestry (both alien and nonalien) on the grounds of national security. Over two-thirds of the Japanese in America were citizens and the internment took away their constitutional rights. In this lesson, students evaluate the consequences of past events and decisions related to the Supreme Court case Korematsu v. United States (1944). They consider the challenges involved when trying to balance civil liberties and national security during threatening times and reflect on the lessons learned about civil liberties from the justices in the Korematsu case.

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

The Vietnam War Lesson Guide

Explore classroom lesson plans related to Ken Burns’s and Lynn Novick’s 10-part, 18-hour documentary series, The Vietnam War, which tells the story of one of the most consequential, divisive and controversial events in American history. The series explores the human dimensions of the war through the testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides.

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

The Civil War and Reconstruction

Why was the Civil War fought? How did Reconstruction change the relationship between the federal government, the states and the people? This video lecture explores these questions. It’s part of an online course taught by University of Pennsylvania law professor Kermit Roosevelt III. “Introduction to Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases” covers the topics: Where does the Constitution come from? How has it changed over the years? How do we know what it means?

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

What Should the U.S. Do About North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons?

The United States and North Korea are involved in escalating tensions related to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The U.S. opposes North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons. The Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, however, believes he needs nuculear weapons to remain in power. While war with North Korea is probably not imminent, the prospect has caused alarm. A nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea would have devastating consequences.

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

Abraham Lincoln and Executive Power

This lesson traces the rise of Abraham Lincoln from his humble beginnings to the presidency. It examines Lincoln’s ideas and decisions regarding slavery and the use of presidential power to preserve the Union during the Civil War. After the lesson, students should be able to explain how Lincoln overcame daunting disadvantages to become a great president, analyze and evaluate his decisions in response the critical constitutional issues of the Civil War, and understand and appreciate his legacy to American constitutionalism and citizenship.

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

The Southern “Black Codes” of 1865-1866

Describes the development of Black Codes following Civil War and details sections of the South Carolina code on Civil Rights, labor contracts, vagrancy, apprenticeship, courts and punishment, and other restrictions. In small groups, students evaluate one of six sections of the South Carolina code through the lens of the 14th Amendment.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Memorial Day

Each year, on the final Monday of May, we celebrate Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a solemn day where we remember the men and women of the United States Armed Forces who died while serving our country. The Share My Lesson team has put together a collection of free lesson plans, materials and activities that honor our nation’s fallen soldiers by exploring the importance of Memorial Day and learning about the wars that caused so many casualties.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Civil Conversation on the 14th Amendment

The Fourteenth Amendment fundamentally redefined the central institutions of American civic and political life after the Civil War and remains the bulwark of our Constitutional rights today. Use the Civil Conversation strategy to take a closer reading of Section 1 of the Amendment.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Extending Suffrage to Women

In this activity, students will analyze documents pertaining to the women’s suffrage movement as it intensified following passage of the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed the right to vote for African American males. Documents were chosen to call attention to the struggle’s length, the movement’s techniques, and the variety of arguments for and against giving women the vote.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12