Constitutional Principles Videos

The Constitutional Principles Videos are engaging presentations that detail the principles upon which the Constitution of the United States was founded and how each principle is important and relative to our understanding of the Constitution today. Presentations address the principles of Separation of Powers, Consent of the Governed, Rule of Law, and Representative Government in a Republic.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Books, Closed Captions, Editorial Cartoons, Essays, Media, Photography, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Special Needs/Language Focus, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Choosing to Make a Nation: Constitutional Convention Simulation

The Choosing to Make a Nation Curriculum Project developed by award-winning author Ray Raphael is a student-centered, primary source-rich approach to teaching about American history and our nationā€˜s founding documents.

An 8-lesson simulation in which students become delegates from specific states and address the same issues the framers faced. Unit includes the following lesson plans –

(1) Reform or Revolution?
(2) Composition of Congress
(3) Creating an Executive Branch
(4) Should Judges Judge Laws?
(5) Balance of Powers
(6) Slavery and the Constitution
(7) Amendments and Ratification
(8) To Sign or Not to Sign?
Option A: The historical Constitution
Option B: Student-generated constitution

  • Resource Type: Interactives, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

American Paradox: Freedom & Slavery in the Early Republic

This lesson provides students an opportunity to use primary source documents as they examine the paradoxical support for both freedom and slavery during the late colonial and founding periods. Many different perspectives on the social studies themes of power, authority, and governance and civic ideals and practices are found in this lesson.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Essays, Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Court Shorts: Separation of Powers

In a five-minute video, federal judges offer insights into their thinking about the separation of powers and describe how healthy tensions among the branches have a stabilizing effect on democracy. The judges also share their respect for and commitment to this founding principle, which has an impact on everyday American life.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Meeting at Runnymede: The Story of King John and Magna Carta

Chafing under the despotic rule of King John, rebellious British noblemen forced their ruler to sign the Magna Carta. The 63 clauses of this document defined and limited the feudal rights of the monarch. This lesson includes a background reading, full text of the Magna Carta, and a small-group activity for students.

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

Documents of Freedom: History, Government, and Economics Through Primary Sources

This complete online textbook covers American history, government, and economic concepts. Resources include readings for students, activity directions for teachers, and handouts that are downloadable and printable for classroom use. Content is geared toward students in grades 8-12. All materials are aligned with Common Core and individual state standards.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Books, Descriptive Text, Essays, Games, Interactives, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Quizzes, Special Needs/Language Focus, Surveys, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 12

Constitution Day Lesson Plan (Middle School)

The United States Constitution activity gives a broad overview of the purpose and structure of the Constitution. Students will examine the promise of what the Founders believed government should be by analyzing the Preamble. They will then examine how the Founders put that promise into practice in the structure of the Constitution.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 7, 8

Separation of Powers Video

Do you understand why separation of powers is important for protecting our freedom? This short, engaging video focuses on the constitutional principle of separation of powers. Clear definitions and graphics, an engaging historical narrative, brief scholar interviews, and memorable quotes will make this 6-minute video perfect for use any time of the year!

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Exploring the United States Constitution eBook

Each chapter connects one or more of the billions of primary source documents in the holdings of the National Archives to the principles found in the United States Constitution. These documents exemplify the workings of the three branches of the federal government as laid out in our Constitution. This eBook is available as a Multi-Touch book for iPad and Mac on iTunes, or for PC, Android devices, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or eReader with Scribd.

  • Resource Type: Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12