Residential Property Signs

This lesson uses City of Ladue v. Gilleo as the basis for discussion of First Amendment rights. Students will argue for both sides of the case, and a group of students will serve as the city council; they will questions both sides and ultimately decide whether the ordinance should be upheld or not. The resource person might then lead a discussion on local laws regarding signs, posters, and handbills.

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

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions is a national initiative of the federal courts that brings high school and college students into federal courthouses for legal proceedings that stem from situations in which law-abiding young people can find themselves. These court hearings (not mock trials) are realistic simulations that showcase jury deliberations in which all students and learning styles participate, using civil discourse skills. This activity includes: Reality Check Quiz and Discussion Starter; Civil Discourse Skill Building; Courtroom Simulation; and Reality Check Discussion.

  • Resource Type: Simulation
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Does the Constitution Protect Fair Play? Introducing Due Process

In this lesson, students will develop a working understanding of due process by discussing relevant Constitutional clauses. They are then presented with the Gideon v. Wainwright case and must decide whether Clarence Gideon had the right to an attorney, relying on their previous discussion of due process. The lesson ends with a discussion of the importance of the right to due process in criminal proceedings, as well as a discussion of other situations in which the right to due process applies.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Connecting the Separate Powers

In this lesson, students will gain an understanding of the separation of powers using role playing and discussion. Students will identify which parts of the Constitution provide for the branches of our government, and will categorize public officials into one of these three branches.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

What is a Democracy?

In this lesson, students will identify essential components of a functioning democracy. They will be presented with “borderline” countries – hypothetical nations that exhibit some, but not all, of the characteristics of a democracy. Through discussion and group work, students will expand their understanding of democracy and see different manifestations of democratic practices.

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

Teaching About Due Process and the Law

In this lesson, students will be presented with various cases of discrimination. They will identify the discriminatory practice, and discuss the difference between permitted and illegal discrimination. The instructor might then lead discussion about the difficulties in drafting laws that ensure no discrimination while not interfering too much with private citizens’ freedoms.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Realizing the Dream Today

Students will analyze a political cartoon depicting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the title of his famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” Discussion of the meaning of the cartoon leads into a more general conversation about rights and equality.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Music Distribution and Copyright

This guided discussion will help students understand copyright law, especially its relevance in this technology-based era. It begins by probing students’ experiences with online media, and eliciting their understanding of copyright. The formal definition can then be presented. A hypothetical copyright conflict between the Jims Brothers and the FrontStreet Boys will illustrate the complexity of copyright law in this technological era.

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

Pirates and the Law

In this lesson, discussion of modern day piracy begins with a cartoon depicting a 17th century pirate ship pulling a large 21st century ship through the sea. Then, the instructor can lead a conversation about piracy – What is piracy? Who are pirates? What motivates them? The lesson introduces students to issues involving international law in the context of globalization.

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