Bill of Rights Day

Celebrate Bill of Rights Day on December 15th by examining the role of Government and the value of individual liberty that our founders enshrined in the Constitution. Help your students understand the foundation of our Bill of Rights with this lesson plan and activities from our online digital textbook geared to engage your students with history in a totally new way.

  • Resource Type: Books, Editorial Cartoons, ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Essays, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Photography, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Special Needs/Language Focus
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Jury System

In this lesson, students will learn about the jury system. Its origins are important to understanding how the Constitution was developed and comprehending how the jury system fulfills dual roles: engaging citizens in their government and ensuring individual liberty. Students should understand the ongoing balance between the common good and individual freedom.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

Abraham Lincoln’s Fragment of the Constitution & the Union (1861): The Purpose of the Union

This lesson will examine Abraham Lincoln’s brief but insightful reflection on the importance of the ideal of individual liberty to the constitutional structure and operation of the American union.

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

Abraham Lincoln, habeas corpus, writ of liberty, Constitution, wartime, liberty

The materials in this curriculum are designed to enhance the Institute’s Senate Immersion Module (SIM) experience, but can also be used separately. The SIM program is an educational, role-playing experience, developed to engage new generations of Americans. The Institute encourages classroom preparation for the SIM, active play at the Institute, and debriefing at the end of the experience.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Voices of History

Voices of History is a collection of eight Bill of Rights Institute curriculum resources including Being An American, Preserving the Bill of Rights, Founders and the Constitution, Supreme Court DBQs, Liberty and Security in Modern Times, Religious Liberty: An American Experiment, and Heroes and Villains. Teachers will have free access to each resources’ lessons plans and handouts.

  • Resource Type: Books, Editorial Cartoons, ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Photography, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

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

Habeas Corpus: The Guantanamo Cases

One of our oldest human rights, habeas corpus safeguards individual freedom by preventing unlawful or arbitrary imprisonment. This documentary examines habeas corpus and the separation of powers in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks as the Supreme Court tried to strike a balance between the president’s duty to protect the nation and the constitutional protection of civil liberties in four major Guantanamo Bay cases: Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Rasul v. Bush, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and Boumediene v. Bush.

Closed captions available in English and Spanish.

  • Resource Type: Media, Video
  • Subject: History, Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment

The American Bar Association Dialogue program provides lawyers, judges and teachers with the resources they need to engage students and community members in a discussion of fundamental American legal principles and civic traditions. This Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment is composed of three parts:
Part 1: Equal Protection and Civil Rights – Participants discuss the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and consider how Congress, through federal legislation, has worked to help realize its constitutional promise.
Part 2: Incorporating the Bill of Rights examines the concept of incorporation. Using a case study of Gitlow v. New York, this section provides a guide to how courts have applied the Bill of Rights, selectively, to the states using the 14th Amendment.
Part 3: Ensuring Equality and Liberty explores how the 14th Amendment has been interpreted by courts to protect fundamental freedoms, including individuals’ right to marry.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Timelines
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

What Does July 4th Mean to You?

July 4th brings to mind fireworks, parades, and picnics but what are we celebrating when we remember the signing of the Declaration of Independence? What does July 4th mean to you? This lesson plan lets students make connections between the birthday of America and its significance in today’s world.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12