Prayer and Friday Night Lights?

In this lesson, students explore the scope and limits of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. First, students read and discuss an article on the constitutional issue of student-led prayer at public school events. Next, they role-play Supreme Court justices and attorneys deciding this issue. Finally, in a whole-class discussion, they debrief their own findings and compare them with those of the Supreme Court in the case of Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe et al.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Interactives

Convene the Council

Step inside the White House Situation Room, as you take on the role of president of the United States and make foreign policy decisions with the support of your National Security Council. In Convene the Council, you will address international crises through strategic action, engage with members of your National Security Council, weigh the pros and cons of various policy options, delegate action to appropriate government agencies and departments, and work to improve core metrics of U.S. prosperity, values, security, and world health.

Grades 8, 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Games

The War on Terror and the Debate Over Torture

This 13-minute video and lesson plan are designed for students to analyze the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the public debate over the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by U.S. officials and government contractors. Students will evaluate multiple perspectives from a mix of resources (video clips, a short film, documents and political cartoons) and classify arguments as being supportive, neutral or critical of government action.

Gerrymandering

The process of redistricting, or redrawing congressional and state legislative boundaries, often becomes politicized. Drawing district lines to create partisan advantages and disadvantages is a tactic known as gerrymandering. Examine interactive resources to explore how changing district lines can affect the balance of partisan power, and evaluate criteria for drawing district lines.

Supreme Court Lessons

These interactive lessons for high school students lead them through a simulation of an actual Supreme Court case and help them to break down complex constitutional issues. Each lesson begins with an overview of the facts of the case, followed by a brief discussion of the Supreme Court decision. Then, students are asked to take a stand “for” or “against” the majority decision. The cases that the Rendell Center has selected involve student-specific issues and/or those issues shown to be important to youth through their social media posts or active engagement.

Read Aloud Lessons

Reading aloud helps students learn how to use language and retain key points of the story, while improving their information processing skills, vocabulary, and comprehension. The Rendell Center’s Read Aloud lesson plans, designed for elementary school teachers, offer titles incorporate into their curriculum, provide insights into the book selected to enhance the read aloud session, and deliver activities for presenting civics learning in a fun, memorable way.

Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Foundations of Democracy
Books

Literature-Based Mock Trial Lessons

This literature based mock trial format provides a dynamic interactive opportunity for K-8 students to develop higher-level thinking skills, as well as gain a deeper understanding of the U.S. judicial system and constitutional principles. The Rendell Center’s Mock Trial framework is easy to follow, and its lesson plans – based on classic or classroom pieces of literature – provide teachers with the tools and guidance needed to help their class write and argue a mock trial, and actively take on the roles of defendant, lawyers, witnesses, jurors, and court officials.

Grades 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
Interactives

Just Vote: Youth Registration Campaign

This lesson supports young people as they design, create, and implement their own voter preregistration campaigns. Students will consider some reflection questions, learn more about voting as they consider what to include in their campaigns, study examples of past voter registration campaigns, and apply what they’ve learned to create campaigns that engage current and future voters to participate in the democratic process. First, help students reflect on the role of voting in the democratic process, using questions that connect to their prior knowledge about voting. Then, through the series of worksheets that follow, have students learn relevant vocabulary, analyze challenges voters face today, examine past successful voting campaigns, and create their new campaigns. After students launch their campaigns, consider creating a way for the class to track their success as a group.