First Amendment: Speech

When does the First Amendment allow the government to limit speech? Many Americans struggle with understanding the language and subsequent interpretation of the Constitution, especially when it comes to the rights encapsulated in the First Amendment. While many Americans can agree that speech should be protected, there are disagreements over when, where, and how speech should be limited or restricted. This lesson encourages students to examine their own assumptions and to deepen their understanding of current accepted interpretation of speech rights under the First Amendment, including when and where speech is protected and/or limited. It should reinforce the robustness of the First Amendment protections of speech.

Grades 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

Foundations of Democracy: Lesson Plans & Resources

Teach the Foundations of Democracy

This Share My Lesson collection provides teachers with free lesson plans and resources on the foundational principles of democracies, including rule of law, limited government, and checks and balances. It can be used to build background knowledge to analyze the health of our democracy over time and in today’s environment.

Grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

Judicial Independence: Essential, Limited, Controversial

In a constitutional system of government, the role of the judiciary is essential for maintaining the balance of power, protecting individual rights, upholding the rule of law, interpreting the Constitution, and ensuring equal justice for all. In this lesson, students learn about the role of an independent judiciary in the United States.

Women Before the American Revolution

This short video explores the limited rights of women prior to the American Revolution. According to the idea of femme covert, women were legally and politically subservient to their husbands. Married women could not own property and all women were considered irrelevant to the political sphere. Professor Rosemarie Zagarri notes that 80% of the freemen in the colonies could vote (as compared to 20% in Great Britain), but suffrage was still limited to men.

Grades 9-12
Citizenship
Video

How Did the Constitutional Convention Deal with Slavery?

This short video explains the differing perspectives that emerged about the Constitution and slavery. Some, like Frederick Douglass, believed that the Founders put slavery on the road to extinction while others, like Roger Taney, believed that the Constitution was a slaveholders’ document. Professor Gordon Lloyd contends that the slavery clauses in the Constitution both limited and expanded slavery’s impact, and that the Founders alone do not bear responsibility for slavery’s later expansion.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Video

The Constitutional Convention: Lesson 3: Creating the Office of the Presidency

This lesson focuses on the arguments over the various characteristics and powers of the office of president as debated at Constitutional Convention of 1787. By examining the views of delegates as recorded in James Madison’s Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, students will understand the arguments of those who supported either a strong, independent executive, or a very limited and highly controlled executive. Students will also see why, in the end, the delegates compromised.

Grades 8, 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Essays

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Students will create visual metaphors to explain the seven principles of the Constitution. Students will practice their speaking skills as they explain their visual analogies to the rest of the class. Students will reflect on the big ideas and make personal connections to the material by recording their learning in a Learning Log during and after the presentations.

Grades 6-12
Federal Government
Lesson Plans

Madison and Human Nature

A major obstacle teaching sophomore AP Government for semester duration is the implementation of outside reading and the comprehension of primary sources. Namely, the incorporation of the Federalist Papers, which are both relevant and necessary, pose a challenge for students not yet exposed to AP United States History or have limited reading comprehension.