Rule of law is a founding principle of the United States and a bedrock of democracy. It ensures that no one is above the law, that laws are publicly and widely known, that laws apply equally to all and are equally enforced, and that disputes are settled by an independent judiciary. This textbook definition is in contrast with many Americans’ lived experiences. For some people in the United States, particularly the most marginalized, rule of law has always been in crisis. Though the term “rule of law” may rarely be mentioned in state standards, its concepts are embedded in many social studies courses. Fundamental rights, limiting and balancing government power, and an open and transparent government are just a few of these concepts. These Street Law-designed lessons and resources are designed for flexibility and ease of use. The seven core lessons have been designed with middle and high school social studies teachers in mind, for courses ranging from U.S. history to civics and law to global studies. The eight lessons are: Introduction to Rule of Law; Controlling Corruption and Abuse of Power; Open and Transparent Government; Fair and Effective Court System; Fundamental Rights; Peace and Stability; Limiting and Balancing Government Power; and the Culminating Activity: Addressing a Rule of Law Change in My Community.
Bell Ringer: Landmark Legislation: Americans with Disabilities Act
Former Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and disability rights activist Judy Heumann talk about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which Harkin authored and co-sponsored, and the legislation’s impact on lives of Americans with disabilities, the small-business community, and education.
The Ruby Bridges Story
In this lesson, students will hear from a primary source, Ruby Bridges, as she spoke with elementary school students about her experiences as the first black student in an all-white school in New Orleans in 1960.
History of State Constitutions
Students watch, analyze, and respond to video clips that detail the goals of the writers of the first state constitutions, explore historical the background, and and examine Virginia’s, Pennsylvania’s, or Massachusetts’ first state constitutions.
Juneteenth (June 19) commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War was over and that enslaved people were free. While the day has been celebrated ever since, it was only recognized as a federal holiday in 2021. This resource page includes a video of a conversation with Annette Gordon-Reed about her book “On Juneteenth,” primary sources from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, and a lesson plan “Juneteenth and Emancipation.”
Juneteenth and Emancipation
Over the course of four lessons, students will analyze primary source documents that convey the realities of slavery in the United States, represent various viewpoints on emancipation, and provide context for the federal holiday of Juneteenth, which is the most widely recognized commemoration of slavery’s end. Students will read and assess different types of documents not only to comprehend the language of the text but also to infer meaning and integrate historical context. They will use textual evidence to draw conclusions and present arguments as directed in each lesson, including debating whether Juneteenth is the date that should be celebrated as the end of slavery in the United States.
The Presidential Election of 1912 Exhibit
This collection of primary source documents is intended to help readers identify and think about some of the key ideas and issues surrounding the U.S. Presidential election of 1912. The 1912 election was a significant event in American history for a number of reasons, representing the high-water mark of the so-called Progressive Era in American electoral politics. This pivotal moment is explained by Jason Jividen in his opening essay, in which he establishes the situation leading into the election year, contextualizes the ideas and personalities in play and conflict, and explains what happened. The exhibit also includes key facts and statistics from the election itself, including an electoral map, and vote counts and popular vote shares in each state. We also included important demographic statistics to help the reader understand the differences and similarities between America then and now.
Teaching Students About International Politics
The world has become increasingly more connected, and with this inter-connectedness it is of even more importance that students gain a deeper understanding of global issues and the role of diplomacy. Share My Lesson has specially curated this collection of resources to help educators teach students about past and present U.S. foreign policies, how foreign policy is developed, the crisis in Ukraine, how international organizations are created and governed, the creation of international law, various international conflicts, and other forms of government in the world.
C-SPAN Videos on the Ukraine Conflict
Help keep your students informed about the Ukraine conflict with this collection of videos. Then have your students reflect on each video clip they watch with our Primary Source Current Event Video Analysis Handout.
1912 Republican Convention: TR Starts the Bull Moose Party
This four-minute video provides students with an introduction to the election of 1912 and the emergence of the progressive Bull Moose party, named for Theodore Roosevelt’s saying after an assassination attempt that he was “fit as a bull moose” to become president again. Focusing on Theodore Roosevelt’s decision to challenge President William Taft for the 1912 Republican Party nomination, the video shows students how the newly created system of direct primaries affected the race, and how Roosevelt’s failure to wrest the nomination from Taft resulted in the formation of the short-lived Bull Moose party. The video is useful for lessons focused on the election of 1912, or for lessons focused on the political reforms of the progressive era.