LegalTimelines.org

LegalTimelines.org is an interactive, educational site designed to teach middle and high school students about the historical evolution of U.S. laws on important contemporary legal issues. The site currently features three timelines that take students through the legal history of suffrage, federalism, and the legal rights of the accused. Each timeline is rich with engaging

Grades 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Interactives

The Legislative Branch: How Congress Works – Module 7 of Constitution 101

The Constitution grants Congress—our nation’s legislative branch—the power to make laws. The legislative branch is outlined in Article I of the Constitution. The Constitution divides Congress into two houses—the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The House of Representatives is composed of representatives proportionate to each state’s population. At the same time, the Senate is organized under the principle of equal state representation—with each state, regardless of its population, receiving two Senators. In this module, students will examine primary and secondary sources to learn about the legislative branch’s structure, functions, and powers as granted by the Constitution and defined by the courts over time. Students will also explore the legislative process and the role that civil dialogue and political compromise play in crafting national laws.

Separation of Powers and Federalism – Module 6 of Constitution 101

When crafting the Constitution, one of the central concerns of the Founding generation was how best to control government power. With the new Constitution, the Framers looked to strike an important balance—creating a new national government that was more powerful than the one that came before it while still protecting the American people’s most cherished liberties. They settled on a national government with defined but limited powers. Instead of placing authority in the hands of a single person (like a king), a small group of people (like an aristocracy), or even the whole people (like a direct democracy), the Framers divided power in two ways. At the national level, the Framers divided power between the three branches of government—the legislative branch, the executive branch and the judicial branch. This process of dividing power between different branches of government is called the separation of powers. From there, the Framers further divided power between the national government and the states under a system known as federalism. In this module, students will explore the key functions of the different parts of government and the role that the Constitution plays in controlling government power.

George Washington and the Pursuit of Religious Freedom

George Washington and the Pursuit of Religious Freedom is based on a 15-minute film that covers religion in early America, the defeat of the British Empire, and the steps leading up to the passing of the Bill of Rights in 1791. Accompanying resources, such as an interactive map and an interactive timeline investigate the history of religion in early America, Washington’s interactions with various religious groups, and his role in securing religious freedom. Teacher resources include graphic organizers, vocabulary sheets, and additional information to guide inquiry.

Grades 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Intertwined: The Enslaved Community at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Intertwined tells the story of the more than 577 people enslaved by George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon. Told through the biographies of Sambo Anderson, Davy Gray, William Lee, Kate, Ona Judge, Nancy Carter Quander, Edmund Parker, Caroline Branham, and the Washingtons, this eight-part podcast series explores the lives and labors of Mount Vernon’s enslaved community, and how we interpret slavery at the historic site today.

Midterm Election Series

Civics 101 Podcast has partnered with Retro Report to create a series to prepare students and educators for the 2022 midterm elections. The series includes six podcasts and links to associated resources, as well as links to videos and lesson plans from Retro Report on historic midterms (1966 and 1994) in addition to activities on gerrymandering, realignment, everything you could possibly want that is midterm-related. Here is a link to Retro Report’s complete midterm collection.
These podcasts and videos can be used in class, on a walk, or at home. Each podcast comes with a transcript and graphic organizer for students to write on while listening.

Grades 9-12
Voting, Elections, Politics
Audio

Landmark Supreme Court Case: Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886)

The Supreme Court’s decision in this case was seen as trailblazing. It struck down legislation aimed at closing Chinese-operated laundries in San Francisco and guaranteed noncitizens the Constitution’s protections. It was the first case to use the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits states from denying any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the law. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled laws with discriminatory intent were unconstitutional. This landmark case has been cited over 150 times since the Court’s decision.

Grades 9-12
History
Lesson Plans

Women and the U.S. Supreme Court

This lesson plan opens with reflective questions that ask students to consider their prior knowledge of Supreme Court justices and how many have been women. Students then watch, analyze, and respond to an introductory video that details the impetus for law professor Renee Knake Jefferson’s co-authoring of “Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court.” Next, students explore two clips that include President Richard Nixon’s shortlisting of two women for the Supreme Court and how gender diversity on the U.S. Supreme and state courts compare to courts in other democracies. Students then engage in a choice board exploration activity, where they choose to study four of nine different topics. The lesson concludes with a reflective prompt and offers an optional extension activity.

Grades 9-12
History
Interactives

Choice Board: U.S. Presidents and the Press

Throughout history, U.S. presidents have carved out their relationships with the press. In this lesson, students will hear from author and historian Harold Holzer as he discusses how several presidents, from George Washington to Donald Trump, navigated their interactions with the media and implemented strategies to communicate with the press, some of which are still used today.

Grades 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives