The History of Immigration Law in the United States

This lesson provides a background on the history of immigration policy in the United States, that is the philosophical origins, legal debates, and legal history from the Founding of the nation to the late 1900s. Students will come to understand how American lawmakers viewed immigrants and the reasoning behind the evolving nature of immigration policy.

Individuals Influence Public Policy

In this lesson, students are presented with a controversial school policy and given two viewpoints on the issue. They are then divided into groups, and asked to provide reasons for and against the policy. After deciding whether the policy should be changed or not, the students are asked to reflect on why policies might change and what factors influence policy decisions.

Policymaking in the Three Branches of Government

This lesson introduces students to executive, legislative, and judicial policymaking and to policy evaluation. First, students discuss how policy can be made by each of the branches. Then they read about and discuss how the Chicago City Council passed a controversial ordinance to suppress gang activity and how each branch of government was involved in the policy. Finally, students are introduced to a policy-analysis rubric. Lesson 5 in Civic Action Project.

Grades 9-12
State/Local Government
Lesson Plans

Local Politics: The Need for Compromise

This lesson examines the process of local decision making and its need for citizen input and compromise. Students simulate a local city/county council session and advise the council on public policy. Students are asked to consider the viewpoints of different citizen groups in order to reach a compromise that will benefit the entire community. This lesson can be used with a unit on local politics and can be adapted to reflect issues of compromise in your school or community.

Grades 6-12
State/Local Government
Simulation

The Constitution in Action: Who Shapes Foreign Policy?

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students in the Early Republic and asks them to engage with a fundamental question of Constitutional interpretation faced at that time: Who controls foreign policy, Congress or the President? Students will explore this sweeping question with respect to Washington’s Neutrality Proclamation of 1793 and Jay’s Treaty.

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.

Grades 7-12
Rights and Responsibilities
Lesson Plans

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.

Grades 9-12
Federal Government
Audio

Environmentalism Then and Now

This PowerPoint presentation uses modern environmental images juxtaposed with historic images and facts, and then asks students: Is Going Green new? While it is clear that environmentalism and the environmental movement, even environmental law, are historic, it is worth discussing how today’s movement is different from the past. Today there are stricter laws, policy initiatives, social networks, and new technologies.