No Vehicles in the Park

In this lesson, students will apply a general law – “no vehicles in the park” – to specific circumstances in considering the language of the law and its intended objective. The task will require that they interpret the law to allow for certain circumstances – an ambulance carrying a dying patient, for example. The lesson ends with students rewriting the law to more clearly reflect the intent of the lawmakers.

The Rule of Law in Your Life

Rule of law is a principle under which all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to laws that are: publicly promulgated, equally enforced, independently adjudicated, and consistent with international human rights principles. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has created this resource to help your students understand rule of law with an overview of the topic; opening discussion questions; relevant landmark case summaries; and discussion questions to check for understanding. In a Court Shorts video, nine federal judges explain how fair and consistent adherence to the law protects our rights and well-being in everyday situations.

Grades 8, 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

Distance Learning: Civics for Civic Engagement in the Federal Courts

Distance learning activities become civics for civic engagement when federal judges bring the rule of law, separation of powers, judicial independence, and jury service into students’ daily life. Student voice is incorporated into every activity. Teachers and students can explore the pillars of literacy: rule of law, separation of powers, and judicial independence. With the guidance of federal judges and attorney volunteers in virtual court hearings, students learn and practice civil discourse skills as the foundation of effective dispute resolution in the law and in life.

Environmental Laws Timeline Activity

Students will have to select 25 environmental laws in American history from a much larger list. Their goal is to produce their own timeline of American environmental law history to present to the rest of the class. In doing so, they will develop critical thinking and analytic skills and articulate the importance of the Rule of Law to protecting the environment.

Actions That Changed the Law

In 1998, when Lilly Ledbetter filed her complaint of wage discrimination against the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, her goal was to get equal pay for equal work because that was the law. She had no idea that her decision would eventually involve all three branches of government and result in a law with her name on it – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

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.

Campaign Finance

Students can hear Sal give an introduction to campaign finance up to and after Citizens United, including the difference between soft and hard money, the influence of PACs and super PACs, and the impact of the McCain-Feingold Act. They can then follow that up with an in-depth video on Citizens United v. FEC in which Sal discusses the background and holdings of the case with scholars Richard Hasen, professor of law at UC Irvine School of Law, and Bradley Smith, former chairman of the FEC. Teachers can then assign an exercise to their students aligned to the current AP Government and Politics exam to assess how well they understood the content of the lesson.

The Bill of Rights

In this series of videos, students will hear from constitutional scholars such as Professor Tracey Meares of Yale University, Professor Orin Kerr of George Washington University, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of Berkeley Law, and Michael McConnell, the director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center. In these videos, two scholars discuss their interpretations of the amendments, often giving different points of view and interpretations.

Voting Rights Act of 1965: Lesson Plans & Resources

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. This landmark piece of legislation made discrimination based on race illegal. This law protected the right to vote for all citizens; forced states to obey the Constitution; and reinforced the 15th Amendment. The Share My Lesson team has curated a collection of free lesson plans, activities, and classroom materials that educators can use to teach students about the Voting Rights Act.