Voir Dire Simulation

In this lesson, students will role play real lawyers as they carry out a voir dire simulation for jury selection. They will draft lists of favorable characteristics of jurors beforehand to aid in their questioning. Then, students will be presented with a list of thirty potential jurors and will impanel either a six-person or a twelve-person jury based on the size of the class. By reflecting on the impaneled jury towards the end of the session, students will think critically.

Schenck v. U.S. (1919)

Did Schenck’s conviction under the Espionage Act for criticizing the draft violate his First Amendment free speech rights? Schneck was convicted for distributing anti-draft leaflets because the leaflets allegedly caused insubordination.

Grades 7-12
Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
Research (Digests of Primary Sources)

The Constitutional Convention: Fine Tuning the Balance of Powers

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students in the midst of the Constitutional Convention, after the Committee of Detail has submitted its draft for a new Constitution on August 6. With that draft’s concrete proposals on the floor, students will ponder questions such as: Is this the Constitution we want? Are the people adequately represented? Are the branches well structured? By engaging with these questions mid-stream, before the Convention reached its final conclusions, students will experience the Constitutional Convention as process, a supreme example of collective decision-making.

The Constitution: Drafting a More Perfect Union

Students will analyze an unidentified historical document and draw conclusions about what this document was for, who created it, and why. After the document is identified as George Washington’s annotated copy of the Committee of Style’s draft constitution, students will compare its text to that of an earlier draft by the Committee of Detail to understand its evolution.

Grades 9-12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Lesson Plans

The Declaration of Independence: From Rough Draft to Proclamation

Students will analyze an unidentified historical document and draw conclusions about what this document was for, who created it, and why. After the document is identified as Thomas Jefferson’s “original Rough draught” of the Declaration of Independence, students will compare its text to that of the final document adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776 and discuss the significance of differences in wording.