The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These amendments guarantee essential rights and civil liberties, such as the freedom of religion, the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, trial by jury, and more, as well as reserving rights to the people and the states. After the Constitutional Convention, the absence of a bill of rights emerged as a central part of the ratification debates. Anti-Federalists, who opposed ratification, pointed to the missing bill of rights as a fatal flaw. Several states ratified the Constitution on the condition that a bill of rights be promptly added. Pop over to the National Constitution Center’s learning module to discover more!
Comparing the Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights with the U.S. Bill of Rights
In this activity students will examine the influences of the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights on the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution. By the end of the activity students should be able to cite clear examples of the influence of English legal traditions in the U.S. Bill of Rights; they should also be able to give examples of how the American document is unique in offering even further expanded rights.
Guns and School Safety
The Constitutional Rights Foundation provides resources to help students, teachers, administrators, and districts think about the best way forward for their communities and states. Resources include a simulation activity in which students act as state legislators trying to design the most effective policy for reduction of gun violence in their state (grades 9-12); a civil conversation in which students participate in a small-group discussion (middle school); talking points on the causes of school violence; and more.
Voting and Elections in Early America
Google Cultural Institute exhibit by Constitutional Rights Foundation & Barat Education Foundation’s Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program. Long before the pilgrims landed, voting and elections were taking place in America. For example, the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, a powerful alliance of Native American tribes who inhabited territory west of the Colonies, had established a system of representative government sometime around 1500 that lasted until the Revolutionary War. Women played a prominent role in choosing its political leaders.
Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment
The American Bar Association Dialogue program provides lawyers, judges and teachers with the resources they need to engage students and community members in a discussion of fundamental American legal principles and civic traditions. This Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment is composed of three parts:
Part 1: Equal Protection and Civil Rights – Participants discuss the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and consider how Congress, through federal legislation, has worked to help realize its constitutional promise.
Part 2: Incorporating the Bill of Rights examines the concept of incorporation. Using a case study of Gitlow v. New York, this section provides a guide to how courts have applied the Bill of Rights, selectively, to the states using the 14th Amendment.
Part 3: Ensuring Equality and Liberty explores how the 14th Amendment has been interpreted by courts to protect fundamental freedoms, including individuals’ right to marry.
19th Amendment: Women’s Right to Vote
In this learning module, students will trace the roots of the women’s rights movement, from early reform efforts in the 1800s to the ultimate decision to pursue voting rights. This unit explores the constitutional arguments over women’s suffrage, the historical context of the fight for suffrage over 70 years, and the tactics suffragists used to persuade state legislatures and the national government to recognize voting rights for women.
Bill of Rights Booklet – Elementary and Middle Schools
Want your students to have their own Bill of Rights booklet? This booklet has the verbiage from the Bill of Rights and a space for students to be able to paraphrase what each amendment means.
Talking with Your Students About the Assault on the Capitol
The Constitutional Rights Foundation has created three classroom activities to help you and your students discuss abiding questions about the events of January 6 and the meaning of those events while encouraging thinking about the future of American democracy — and how to strengthen it. Students discuss hopes for the future, multiple perspectives on partisanship, and different headlines from the day after the assault on the Capitol.
The Story of the Bill of Rights
This documentary tells the story of these individual freedoms that often are taken for granted today. But in 1787, when they were first discussed at the Constitutional Convention, the Founding Fathers rejected them. Why were these rights controversial then? The full story about these rights, including what they say and what they mean, is explained. Ten short videos examine each of the amendments in the Bill of Rights.
Amendment Worth A Thousand Words
With many pictures posted all over every social media platform, the #amendmentworthathousandwords’ overall mission will be to enlighten many of the rights promised to people by the Constitution. Through this challenge, many will become aware of their rights and what the Constitution does not only for them, but for all Americans as well! Lesson plan by Eboni Jenerette