Founding Documents: Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers Podcast

Ten days after the Constitution was signed at the Old Philadelphia State House, an anonymous op-ed appeared in the New York Journal. Signed by “”Cato,” it cautioned readers of the new Constitution to take it with a grain of salt. Even the wisest of men, it warned, can make mistakes. This launched a public debate that would last months, pitting pro-Constitution Federalists against Constitution-wary Anti-Federalists. It was a battle for ratification, and it resulted in a glimpse into the minds of our Framers – and a concession that would come to define American identity.
Our guides through the minds of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists are Claire Griffin and Cheryl Cook-Kallio.
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.

The Constitutional Convention: Creating an Executive

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students at the Constitutional Convention and asks them to explore one of the fundamental quandaries faced by the framers: how to create an executive branch that lacked monarchical prerogatives yet could make the government function more efficiently. By discussing and debating the various options, students will gain a deeper understanding of the choices the framers faced and why they opted for particular structures, ones we live with today.

Congress and the Separation of Powers – Virtual Exhibit

Why does the U.S. Constitution separate the government into three branches? At the nation’s founding, the Constitution’s framers understood that executive, legislative, and judicial responsibilities differed, and they provided for these distinct functions. They also believed that concentrating authority in one body would result in tyranny. They therefore divided the government into legislative, executive, and judicial branches, so that no single part would become too strong, and empowered each to limit or “check” the powers of the others. This exhibit examines Congress’s unique role and the ways in which it can balance or dynamically shape and challenge the powers of two other branches.

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.

The Emoluments Clause and the President (Civil Conversation)

The emoluments clause is a provision in the U.S. Constitution. An emolument is a profit or advantage an official gains from his or her office. The framers of the Constitution feared that ambassadors in the early republic might be corrupted by gifts from foreign countries. The framers wanted public servants to be free from outside influence.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans

Amending the Constitution: Why Change?

The U.S. Constitution, though it serves as the firm foundation for our system of government, incorporates a process for change and flexibility. This lesson allows students to investigate, analyze and simulate the amendment process that allows the Constitution to remain an evolving document as envisioned by the Framers.

Grades 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

The Constitutional Convention: Slavery and the Constitution

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students at the Constitutional Convention and asks them to engage in the most problematic issue the framers faced: how to deal with slavery. Although most delegates believed slavery was deplorable, it was so deeply entrenched that any attempt to abolish it would likely keep several states from approving the proposed Constitution. By confronting this issue, students will experience for themselves the influence of socioeconomic factors in the political arena, and they will see how political discourse is shaped by arguments based on morality, interest, and pragmatic considerations, often intertwined.

The Constitutional Convention: Composition of Congress

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students at the Constitutional Convention and asks them to construct a legislative branch for a proposed new government. Should there be one branch or two? Should each state get an equal voice in the legislative branch? By discussing and debating the various options, they will gain a deeper understanding of the choices the framers faced and why they opted for particular structures, ones we live with today.

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 nation‘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

Grades 9-12
Federal Government
Interactives

Constitution Day Scavenger Hunt with 60-Second Civics

Fifty-five delegates attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Most students can identify George Washington or James Madison. But what about the 53 other delegates? Who were they? How did they influence the convention? In this lesson, students will familiarize themselves with the delegates by listening to a series of 60-Second Civics podcast episodes devoted to the Framers of the Constitution.

Grades 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Foundations of Democracy
Audio