Act I: What Were the Various Plans at the Constitutional Convention?

This short video highlights the four plans discussed during the first two weeks of the Convention: Madison’s Virginia Plan; Sherman’s New Jersey Plan; Hamilton’s “monarchical” plan; and, finally, Madison’s amended Virginia Plan. Each plan attempted to reconcile the potential conflicts between a strong national government and strong state governments. Professor Gordon Lloyd notes that an inability to compromise resulted in a stalemate after the first two weeks.

Grades 12, 10, 11
Legislative Branch/Congress
Video

Lesson Plan: How States Redistrict – The Case of 2022

This lesson plan explores the Congressional and state redistricting processes in several states, including Texas, Florida, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, California, Illinois, Ohio, and West Virginia. The lesson extends to the legislative, executive, and judicial processes as well as the geographic and demographic considerations of redistricting.

Grades 11, 12, 9, 10
Legislative Branch/Congress
Lesson Plans

The Constitutional Convention

 In this lesson, students will use C-SPAN video clips to examine the founding principles that emerged from the Constitutional Convention as well as hear about some of the people who participated. Students will use this information to analyze the role the compromise played in the creation of the Constitution.

Grades 9-12, 7, 8
Federal Government
Media

The Constitution in Action – State Challenges to Federal Authority: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

Students in this simulation, as Republican members of the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures in 1798 and 1799, consider how they will oppose the Alien and Sedition Acts. Students will then act as members of other state legislatures and consider how to respond to Kentucky and Virginia. By engaging in this historical moment, students will wrestle with the ongoing tension between the Article VI, Clause 2, of the Constitution, which establishes the federal government as the “supreme Law of the Land,” and the Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers “not delegated to the United States” to the states or the people.

The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom: The Road to the First Amendment

James Madison worked hard to get the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom passed. His main opponent was Patrick Henry, who offered a counter bill. Henry delivered a series of speeches in favor of his bill. They were so powerful that they prompted Madison to write his “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” which met widespread approval and led to the Legislature passing the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

The Constitutional Convention of 1787

In this unit, students will examine the roles that key American founders played in creating the Constitution, and the challenges they faced in the process. They will learn why many Americans in the 1780s believed that reforms to the Articles of Confederation were necessary, and the steps taken to authorize the 1787 Convention in Philadelphia. They will become familiar with the main issues that divided delegates at the Convention, particularly the questions of representation in Congress and the office of the presidency. Finally, they will see how a spirit of compromise, in the end, was necessary for the Convention to fulfill its task of improving the American political system.

Grades 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

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.

The Bill of Rights: Debating the Amendments

In this lesson, students will examine a copy of twelve possible amendments to the United States Constitution as originally sent to the states for their ratification in September of 1789. Students will debate and vote on which of these amendments they would ratify and compare their resulting “Bill of Rights” to the ten amendments ratified by ten states that have since been known by this name.

Grades 8, 9-12, 6, 7
Legislative Branch/Congress
Lesson Plans

The Constitution: Counter Revolution or National Salvation

It is Fall 1787. The Federal Convention has recently concluded its closed door meetings in Philadelphia and presented the nation with a new model for the government. It is now up to each special state convention to decide whether to replace the Articles of Confederation with this new constitution. The debate is passionate and speaks directly to what the founding fathers had in mind in conceiving this new nation. Does this new government represent salvation or downfall?

The Constitution: Drafting a More Perfect Union

Students will analyze an unidentified historical document and draw conclusions about what this document was for, who created it, and why. After the document is identified as George Washington’s annotated copy of the Committee of Style’s draft constitution, students will compare its text to that of an earlier draft by the Committee of Detail to understand its evolution.

Grades 9-12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Lesson Plans