The Role of the Judiciary

In this lesson, students learn about the judicial system, aka the judiciary. First, students read and discuss an article on the role, structure, and principles of the judiciary. Next, they participate in a Civil Conversation on the reading. In this structured discussion method, under the guidance of a facilitator (the teacher), participants are encouraged to engage intellectually with challenging materials.

  • Resource Type: Descriptive Text, Interactives, Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Crisis in Venezuela

The United States historically had strong diplomatic and economic relations with Venezuela. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves and is the third largest source of imported oil for the U.S. For decades, Venezuela was a democratic state. The positive relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela changed in 1998. Venezuelans elected Hugo Chavez president that year. His political program was known as Chavismo.

  • Resource Type: Descriptive Text, Interactives, Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Local Politics: The Need for Compromise

This lesson examines the process of local decision making and its need for citizen input and compromise. Students simulate a local city/county council session and advise the council on public policy. Students are asked to consider the viewpoints of different citizen groups in order to reach a compromise that will benefit the entire community. This lesson can be used with a unit on local politics and can be adapted to reflect issues of compromise in your school or community.

  • Resource Type: Simulation
  • Subject: State/Local Government
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The 19th Amendment and the Road to Universal Suffrage

In this activity, students will explore the struggle for universal suffrage long after both men and women constitutionally had the right to vote. Following a progressive timeline, primary sources highlight voting problems that arose for minority groups throughout the 20th century. Students will answer questions as they work through the documents to reflect on if and when universal suffrage was ultimately achieved.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources, Timelines
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Be Washington

Be Washington is an interactive experience in which YOU take on the role of George Washington, either as commander in chief or president. Come face to face with a leadership challenge, listen to advice from his most trusted sources, and decide how to solve the same problems Washington himself faced. Learn how Washington actually handled the situation, and see how other players voted. Play as an individual or hosts a game for a group. Lesson plans are available for each scenario. The game may be played online and is also available as an app. Visiting Mount Vernon? Make plans to play Be Washington in the Interactive Theater.

  • Resource Type: Games, Lesson Plans, Simulation
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

NewsFeed Defenders

NewsFeed Defenders is a challenging online game that engages players with the standards of journalism, showing you how to spot a variety of methods behind the viral deception we all face today. Join a fictional social media site focused on news and information, and meet the challenge to level up from guest user to site admin. This can only be achieved by spotting dubious posts that try to sneak in through hidden ads, viral deception, and false reporting. In addition to maintaining a high-quality site, you are charged with growing traffic while keeping the posts on topic.

  • Resource Type: Games
  • Subject: Media Literacy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment

The American Bar Association Dialogue program provides lawyers, judges and teachers with the resources they need to engage students and community members in a discussion of fundamental American legal principles and civic traditions. This Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment is composed of three parts:
Part 1: Equal Protection and Civil Rights – Participants discuss the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and consider how Congress, through federal legislation, has worked to help realize its constitutional promise.
Part 2: Incorporating the Bill of Rights examines the concept of incorporation. Using a case study of Gitlow v. New York, this section provides a guide to how courts have applied the Bill of Rights, selectively, to the states using the 14th Amendment.
Part 3: Ensuring Equality and Liberty explores how the 14th Amendment has been interpreted by courts to protect fundamental freedoms, including individuals’ right to marry.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Timelines
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Guns and School Safety

The Constitutional Rights Foundation provides resources to help students, teachers, administrators, and districts think about the best way forward for their communities and states. Resources include a simulation activity in which students act as state legislators trying to design the most effective policy for reduction of gun violence in their state (grades 9-12); a civil conversation in which students participate in a small-group discussion (middle school); talking points on the causes of school violence; and more.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Simulation
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions is a national initiative of the federal courts that brings high school and college students into federal courthouses for legal proceedings that stem from situations in which law-abiding young people can find themselves. These court hearings (not mock trials) are realistic simulations that showcase jury deliberations in which all students and learning styles participate, using civil discourse skills. This activity includes: Reality Check Quiz and Discussion Starter; Civil Discourse Skill Building; Courtroom Simulation; and Reality Check Discussion.

  • Resource Type: Simulation
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12