Grade 9-12 Methods of Interpreting the Constitution

The purpose of this lesson is to explain the two overarching modes of constitutional interpretation, strict and loose construction, and their use and application to particular Supreme Court cases. After an in-class investigation activity to explore the methods of interpretation, students will be given the opportunity to express their opinions of the merits and limitations of each method during a mock Supreme Court session where students will revisit two Supreme Court opinions.

Grades 9-12
Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
Lesson Plans

Grades 11-12: Understanding the Second Amendment through Primary Sources: Assessing the Supreme Court’s Opinion in D.C. v. Heller

In this lesson, students will examine the scope, origins and development of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Students will assess and evaluate the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) by assuming the role of Supreme Court justice and engaging directly with the historical source materials used by the Court. Students will then work together as a class to decide on the scope and meaning of the Second Amendment.

8th Grade: Understanding the Second Amendment through Primary Sources: Assessing the Supreme Court’s Opinion in D.C. v. Heller

In this lesson students, will examine the scope, origins and development of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Students will assess and evaluate the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) by assuming the role of Supreme Court justice and engaging directly with the historical source materials used by the Court. Students will then work together as a class to decide on the scope and meaning of the Second Amendment.

Landmark Supreme Court Cases: Scott v. Sandford

Using video clips from the Landmark Supreme Court Case series, a partnership between C-SPAN and the National Constitution Center, students will research and role-play to better understand the legal, social, and economic factors relating to– and implications of– the majority and dissenting opinions in this infamous case.

Seeking Facts to Solve Mysteries

In this lesson, students will discuss the difference between fact and opinion. They will role play a mock trial, decide the case, and justify their decision. Students will discuss why facts are more reliable than opinions, and understand why courts rely more upon facts than opinions.

Solving the Case of the Missing Bicycle

This scenario about a missing bicycle will help students distinguish between facts and opinions, and then use the facts to solve the mystery. This lesson helps students recognize that legal personnel use facts much more than opinion, as they themselves use a series of facts to draw a reasonable conclusion when determining the innocence or guilt of an individual.

Flag Day Lesson Plan: A Lesson on Texas v. Johnson (1989)

Students will be able to: understand the meaning of one central idea of the First Amendment (symbolic speech); cite textual evidence to analyze a primary source (Supreme Court opinion and dissent); become familiar with reading and comprehending a Supreme Court opinion and dissent; evaluate two Supreme Court Justices’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue; and assess different arguments about the meaning and importance of the American flag as a national symbol.