Comparing the 2020 Democratic and Republican National Conventions

Using clips from the Democratic National Convention (August 17-20, 2020) and the Republican National Convention (August 24-27, 2020), this lesson has students compare the speeches given at each party’s convention and develop summaries of the messaging and priorities of each party. Students will use this information to evaluate the effectiveness of each party’s message.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Media

Freedom of Assembly: The Right to Protest

This lesson will focus on freedom of assembly, as found in the First Amendment. Students will consider the importance of the right to assemble and protest by analyzing cases where First Amendment rights were in question. Using the case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, students will consider if the government is ever allowed to control the ability to express ideas in public because viewpoints are controversial, offensive, or painful. Students will use primary sources and Supreme Court cases to consider whether the courts made the correct decision in the National Socialist Party v. Skokie case. Students will be able to form an opinion on the essential question: Is the government ever justified to restrict the freedom to assemble?

Freedom of Assembly: National Socialist Party v. Skokie

This film explores the First Amendment right of the “people peaceably to assemble” through the lens of the U.S. Supreme Court case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie. The legal fight between neo-Nazis and Holocaust survivors over a planned march in a predominantly Jewish community led to a ruling that said the neo-Nazis could not be banned from marching peacefully because of the content of their message.

Turning Points in the American Revolution

This short video traces the crises of the 1760s (e.g., the Stamp Act, the Townshend Act) through to the relatively quiet early 1770s, culminating in the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Professor Jack Rakove emphasizes the role of individual in history. Governor Thomas Hutchinson forced a crisis—the Boston Tea Party–by insisting on strict enforcement of the Tea Act. He could have chosen a different tactic (as did other governors), but chose not to.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Video

The Troubled Elections of 1796 and 1800

George Washington won the first two U.S. presidential elections without being challenged. When he decided not to run for a third term in 1796, intense rivalries, political disputes, and attempted manipulations of the Electoral College came into play. These factors would again affect the 1800 election, essentially a rematch of 1796, pitting a sitting president, John Adams, against his own vice president, Thomas Jefferson.

Grades 8, 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans

Causes of the American Revolution

This short video examines the Boston Tea Party of 1773 as the critical event which transformed political discussion about British imperial authority into an active source of controversy. By the early 1770’s, British and Americans thought differently about the extent of Parliament’s power to legislate for the American colonies. Professor Jack Rakove notes that British punishment of Massachusetts for its defiance of the Tea Act precluded a peaceful resolution of the political controversy.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Video

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

In the years leading up to the Civil War, the issue of slavery divided the Democratic Party and newly formed Republican Party. One of the most prominent Democrats was the U.S. Senator from Illinois Stephen Douglas. When he ran for re-election in 1858 against Republican Abraham Lincoln, the two men held a series of debates. In the activity, students read statements made by Douglas in the debates, discuss how Lincoln would respond, and create responses to each statement.

Grades 9-12
Rights and Responsibilities
Lesson Plans