Foundations of Democracy

This collection gives teachers access to foundational principles of democracies including rule of law, limited government and checks and balances. It can be used to build background knowledge to analyze the health of our democracy over time and in today’s environment.

Essential Questions include:

  • What systems attempt to limit government power?
  • Where does the government gain its authority in a democracy?
  • What is the rule of law and how does it play out in democracies?
  • What are ways of measuring the health of a democracy?
  • What recourses are in place to ensure the health of democracy?
  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12

Lessons for Women’s History Month

Here is a collection of lessons and resources on key individual women’s contributions to U.S. and world history, as well as movements that have aimed at equality for women. Key figures in world history include: British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth I, Cleopatra and Joan of Arc.  Notable women in U.S. history include activist and journalist Ida B. Wells, environmentalist Rachel Carson  and Harriet Tubman. Other lessons focus on how women won the right to vote, whether women have achieved equality, women serving in Congress, and women in the military.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: History
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The American Founding: The Bill of Rights

This comprehensive, multimedia online exhibit features a trove of resources on the Bill of Rights. Part I contains the English, Colonial, State, and Continental origins of the Bill of Rights; Part II features the Federalist/Antifederalist Debate over the Bill of Rights; and Part III explains the politics of the Bill of Rights in the First Congress through its adoption.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Interactives, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Resources on Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton, Founding Father and Broadway star, clashed with Thomas Jefferson politically and morally. But both figures were essential to the founding of the United States of America. Check out this page for resources on Jefferson, Hamilton, and other main players from the Broadway musical “Hamilton: An American Musical.”

  • Resource Type: Descriptive Text, Interactives, Media, Primary Sources, Timelines, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Constitution in Today’s America

This lesson will teach students about the development of the U.S. Constitution and its role in our system of government. Students will learn about the relationship between the Constitution and a democratic government. In the activities and lesson extensions, they will explore decisions made in the Constitution, including the creation of government institutions, and the purpose of the amendment process. Students also will write an essay in which they analyze how the Constitution helped to fulfill the promise of the United States.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

Teachers Law School

The ABOTA Foundation’s Teachers Law School program is designed for middle and high school educators with an interest in prioritizing civics and law-related education in the classroom. The TLS sessions provide teachers with valuable content to help students better understand and appreciate the value, relevance and impact

  • Resource Type: Interactives, Lesson Plans, Professional Development
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

James Otis Lecture

The ABOTA Foundation is proud to present the James Otis Lecture Series. Our lecture program about the United States Constitution is designed to allow schools to comply with the requirements of the federal statute creating Constitution Day. This law requires all federally-assisted schools, both public and private, to provide educational programs each year around the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.

  • Resource Type: Interactives
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Loyalists in the American Revolution

This short video clarifies the role played by Loyalists throughout the American Revolution. Never more than 1/5 of the population, Loyalists’ political and military significance varied both chronologically and geographically. Professor Jack Rakove highlights the efforts of British forces in the Southern colonies to enlist Loyalists in hopes of “pacifying” the countryside, but concludes that there were too few Loyalists for this strategy to succeed.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

The Constitution as a Fulfillment of the American Revolution

This short video challenges the notion that the Constitution was a conservative reaction to the democratic ideals of the American Revolution. The Revolution generated constitutional discussion in the states, where legislators explored the nature of executive power, and other constitutional questions. In light of this constitutional innovation, Professor Jack Rakove maintains that the Constitution of 1787 was the culmination of—not a reaction to–the Revolution of the late 1770’s.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

How Revolutionary Was the American Revolution?

This short video asserts that although the American Revolution doesn’t fit the paradigm of other revolutions (e.g., British, French, Russian), it nevertheless resulted in a new form of republican government coupled with a new understanding of the role of citizens—both without turbulent social consequences. Professor Jack Rakove concludes that the hallmark of the American Revolution was the truly revolutionary idea that people could and should decide for themselves how to be governed.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12