First Amendment: Assembly and Petition

Students explore the founding era legacies of assembly and petition and how those legacies informed the creation of these often-overlooked aspects of the First Amendment. They will complete a close reading activity to compare and contrast ideas presented in the Interactive Constitution and describe the ways these rights have been interpreted by the Court and used by citizens at various points throughout U.S. history. They will evaluate the constitutionality of assembly and petition rights in the modern era through an in-class, civil dialogue addressing questions about time, place, and manner restrictions; counter-protests; protests on college campuses; and other relevant assembly and petition questions.

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.

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) stated, “Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” This proposed amendment was passed by Congress in 1972 but failed to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. This lesson provides an overview of the proposed amendment, arguments for and against ratification and possible future steps toward ratification. This lesson can be used in a traditional or flipped classroom.

Grades 9-12
Federal Government
Interactives

Provide for the General Welfare – Interstate Highway and Defense Act

In the Constitution, Congress is charged with providing for the general welfare of the country’s
citizens. Historically, this has meant improving transportation, promoting agriculture
and industry, protecting health and the environment and seeking ways to solve social and
economic problems. In 1956, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, popularly known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act, authorizing federal funding for the extension and
construction of a robust network of interstate highways. This project was one of the largest public
works in U.S. history establishing key transportation infrastructure that impacted lives of all
Americans — changing communities, access and economic possibilities and also providing key
routes for evacuating urban centers — a critical national defense issue in the Cold War era.
Analyzing primary source material, students discuss the origins and reasons for the National
Interstate and Defense Highways Act. Then, they work with historical and contemporary maps
as they consider the impact this important congressionally funded project. While intended for 8th
grade students, the lesson can be adapted for other grade levels.

NHD Breaking Barriers: Americans and Native Americans

From the colonial era, relations between European settlers and Native American nations have been complicated. In 1803 Congress authorized and funded an expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark for exploration of the region and for better knowledge about American Indians of the Northwest in order to develop trade. About 30 years later, the United States forced the removal of Native Americans from their lands to make way for white American settlement. Congress and the president made treaties with Native American nations, but those treaties were not always respected as the United States continued to expand into the west. After Native Americans enlisted and served in both World War I and World War II, Congress passed legislation to begin to address longstanding Native Americans claims against the United States Government.

Founding Documents: Magna Carta Podcast

Magna Carta was sealed on a field in England in 1215. Its purpose was to appease some frustrated barons, and it was never intended to last. Over 800 years later, this document is credited with establishing one of the most foundational principles of our democracy. So what does Magna Carta actually say? And how did it get from dubious stalling tactic in the 13th century to Supreme Court arguments in the modern era?
In this episode, you’ll learn how Magna Carta survived and thrived its way into our democracy.
This short episode includes a one-page Graphic Organizer for students to take notes on while listening, as well as discussion questions on the back side.

Grades 12, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Foundations of Democracy
Audio

African American History Month Resources

African American History Month evolved from the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass in the second week of February. Historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson framed the concept that became the first Negro History Week in February 1926. It developed into a monthlong commemoration of the struggles and triumphs of the African American community. On this page, learn the stories of Autherine Lucy Foster, the first African American student to attempt to integrate the University of Alabama; Frank M. Johnson, Jr., the federal judge who ruled in the Rosa Parks case; and Linda Brown, the 9-year-old who became the face of children caught in the crossfire of the fight for social change. The Pathways to the Bench video series features profiles of African American federal judges who offer perspectives on their experiences during the Civil Rights era.

Presidency on Trial: Assessing the Limits of Presidential Power

As they framed the Constitution, many of the Founding Fathers were wary of a powerful chief executive who might overshadow the legislative branch. By constructing the separation of powers within the federal government with a system of checks and balances, the Framers sought to limit the power of the president. Students will investigate not only the formal checks as laid out in the Constitution, but also explore the informal checks on presidential power that have emerged in the modern era. Free registration required to access lesson plan.