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Schools Nationwide Required to Focus on Constitution Day in September

In order to to maintain a representative democracy with limited government and to preserve our freedoms, knowledge about the United States Constitution is a necessity. Last year, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) authored a bill that requires all schools receiving federal funds to provide instruction on the Constitution. This new federal requirement does not specify which instructional program must be used to teach about the Constitution. At a minimum, teachers must expose students to the Constitution in some way that increases their understand of the document to some degree appropriate for their age group.

In addition to Constitution Day Resources compiled by EGUSD Teach American History Director David Byrd and the upcoming Time of Remembrance Digital Archive - a Collection of Interviews with Internees, the organizations listed below also have resources and lessons designed to make learning about the Constitution meaningful for students and easy for teachers to incorporate into their regular curriculum.

Most links in the Online Resources will take you to a home page on which you will find a specific Constitution Day resource link.

  • Center for Civic Education
    The Center for Civic Education is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational corporation dedicated to fostering the development of informed, responsible participation in civic life by citizens committed to values and principles fundamental to American constitutional democracy. Free downloadable lesson plans are available for all grade levels.
  • National Constitution Center
    The National Constitution Center is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of, and appreciation for, the Constitution, its history, and its contemporary relevance.
  • Constitutional Rights Foundation
    Constitutional Rights Foundation is pleased to present a series of free online lessons, resources from the CRF catalog, and Internet links to help educators design their own Constitution Day program. Click on New in the upper left-hand corner.
  • National Archives Teaching With Documents: Observing Constitution Day
    On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had created. The National Archives and Records Administration celebrates this important day in our nation's history by presenting the following activities, lesson plans, and information. Click here for the best place to see a visual image of the actual Constitution.
  • The Bill of Rights Institute's Constitution Day Page
    The Bill of Rights Institute is offering free educational and programming materials to schools to help your teachers organize events to commemorate Constitution Day, scheduled for this year on September 16, 2005.  Click visit www.BillofRightsInstitute.org to access the following:
    1. Two Constitution lesson plans: one for high school and one for middle school
    2. A biographical essay about James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, that includes an audio component
    3. A Founders Gallery that features images of the Founders
    4. Lesson plan about the Bill of Rights that includes a short video
    5. Media-focused lesson plan on the First Amendment
  • U.S. Courts Constitution Day Resources
    The Federal Judiciary has provide the following resources:
    • One-Page Handouts on the Key Themes of Constitution Day 2005
    • Fast Facts
    • Interactive Games (Flash is required)
    • Courtroom and Classroom Activities and Simulations
  • Federal Department of Education Constitution Resources
  • Education for Freedom
    The Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center offers lesson plans for teaching the First Amendment.
  • Justice Learning
    Justice Learning is an innovative, issue-based approach for engaging high school students in informed political discourse. The web site uses audio from the Justice Talking radio show and articles from The New York Times to teach students about reasoned debate and the often-conflicting values inherent in our democracy. The web site includes articles, editorials and oral debate from the nation's finest journalists and advocates. All of the material is supported by age-appropriate summaries and additional links. Constitution Day resources are expected to be posted some time in August.
  • First Amendment Schools: Educating for Freedom and Responsibility
    First Amendment Schools: Educating for Freedom and Responsibility is a national reform initiative designed to transform how schools teach and practice the rights and responsibilities of citizenship that frame civic life in our democracy.
  • The Illinois First Amendment Center
    The mission of the Illinois First Amendment Center is to promote First Amendment rights and responsibilities through education designed to raise awareness of the need to understand, preserve, and protect the First Amendment. There are free resources to request and download, including lessons and short video clips.
  • Dirksen Congressional Center
    The Dirksen Congressional Center is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization in Pekin, Illinois, that seeks to improve civic engagement by promoting a better understanding of Congress and its leaders through archival, research, and educational programs.
  • Teach The First Amendment
    The web site, launched today by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, offers teachers and administrators the best available free teaching guides and lesson plans as well as other resources like tools for starting and protecting student newspapers and broadcast stations. Educators can also find a short quiz on the site to test their own knowledge and students' knowledge of the First Amendment. The web site provides teachers with free resources to meet the new Congressional requirements that go into effect this fall.
  • Educator's Reference Desk Lesson Plans K-12
  • Thinkfinity
    • Search for: American Constitution
    • Limit Subjects to: social studies
    • Limit search to appropriate grade level.
    • Click on the 'Search' button to view results.
  • EDSITEment
    This site, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, offers lesson plans searchable by topic and grade level, including:
  • Landmark Supreme Court Cases
    This site was developed to provide teachers with a full range of resources and activities to support the teaching of landmark Supreme Court cases, helping students explore the key issues of each case. The "Resources" section features basic building blocks such as background summaries and excerpts of opinions that can be used in multiple ways. The "Activities" section contains a range of short activities and in-depth lessons that can be completed with students. While these activities are online, many of them can be adapted for use in a one-computer classroom or a classroom with no computer.
  • Education World
    Teaching Citizenship's Five Themes: Activities from the editors of Weekly Reader can help develop K-6 students' understanding of the five citizenship themes---honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, and courage.
  • Ben's Guide to Government
  • Library of Congress, Federalists Papers
  • The Flint Journal: Newspaper in Education

© 2005 Elk Grove Unified School District