September 17 is Constitution Day—the day that document was adopted in 1787. In 2007, the Verizon Foundation supported the digitization of the Constitution through ConSource, and offers a collection of resources and lessons that you can find on our Today In History Planning Calendar.
What kinds of programs does your school offer on this day? How do you help your students to understand this historical document?
Because the discussion of the Constitution is a federally mandated Act for all educational entities (including college and universities,)one of the best ways for those teaching outside the field of government or history to address this mandate is to go to the Search Engine, type in United States Constitution.The following lesson with many avenues for discussion will appear:
September 2009 EDSITEment Feature: The Constitution of the United States of America
In my college class, I click on the link in the first paragraph that says Constitution Day. The Preamble will immediately begin playing and this is an efffective way to conduct a brief discussion about the Constitution as the Preamble is the best topic sentence every written. The document which follows can be discussed as desired. Additionally, it offers teachers the opportunity to inquire as to the students' understanding of the vocabulary contained within the Preamble. Great way to stir a discussion and comply with the federal mandate.
Thanks for highlighting EDSITEment's Constitution Day resources. The link in your posting doesn't work so I am going to point everyone to our minsite
which contains about 25 different ways to teach the US Constitution organized by grades. We even have a work sheet which helps students understand each provision of the document. And this year some of our resources are in Spanish as well as English. NEH / EDSITEment - Constitution Day - September 17, 2011
Please post the navigational path for this awesome minisite. A new teacher or even a returning teacher to Edsitement might not locate this unless they saved the url in their "favorite resources." I'm sure it will be more visible when September 1 gets here, but let us know where it is in your vast array of resources.
I was able to find the the EDSITEment Constitution feature by going to http://edsitement.neh.gov/ and selecting the "Special Feature" link on the left side of the main page.
I wanted to pass along a few resources from the Smithsonian that might be useful as well, including materials from our site A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the US Constitution: http://americanhistory.si.edu/perfectunion/experience/index.html. This page asks visitors to respond to questions that the exhibit raises, including “What do you think it means to be an American citizen?” or “How do you think the country should balance national security with the rights and civil liberties of its citizens?” Students can respond to the main question, or read the comments of others and respond to those. Using these questions and some of the responses as a jumping off point for discussion might be a useful way to help students think about how the Constitution defines these issues. Or, for materials on the powers and duties outlined in the Constitution, try these materials on the power of the president from our exhibition The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden.
Naomi, National Museum of American History
This year I put together a lesson for our Building 4th and 5th grade teachers on the Constitution using primary sources from the Library of Congress Primary Source Set for teachers http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/constitution/. I chose the Constitution with Washington's handwritten notes for the focal point of the lesson [this document can also be viewed and transcribed at the following LOC Exhibition site: http://myloc.gov/Exhibitions/creatingtheus/interactives/constitution/index.html along with seven other sources from the set to create and entry point for looking at primary sources and identifying characteristics. Students compared the early Committee of Detail Preamble with the final Preamble in this document. Then, in 7 groups, students analyzed an Article to see how it might limit or create Power. To scaffold access to the document, I created a word list of important words for them to look for, questions on an organizer, and a large font section of the Article on the back of their organizer to focus them on a critical component of that particular Article.
As teachers plan lessons related to Constitution Day September 17, 2011, I found a clever and informative You Tube video by Schoolhouse Rock on "How a Bill Becomes a Law." It would make a good presentation for elementary children.
There is also a great infographic or flowchat on How Our Laws Are Made that would be a good teaching tool in civics and government classes.
Be sure to check out A Cleaner Internet browser extension for Firefox, Safari, and Chrome, and see how this free installation removes the clutter from You Tube. With this browser extension, teachers do not have to worry about students seeing more related videos, comments, advertisements, or inappropriate material suddenly appearing on the screen.
EDSITEment also has, in addition to the feature that Karen mentioned, a Constitution Day minisite. We were one of the first, if not the first, federal agency to do this. After almost a decade it remains a marvelous resource for teachers with over 25 lessons on various aspects of the Constitution. We keep tweaking it each year to make it bette .
For example, last year we added Spanish language resources and this year we have translated several of our most popular lessons into Spanish. There are also links to interactive games and videos. The focus throughtout is how to Constitution came to be document (along with the Declaration of Independence) that defines us a people and a nation , both in 1787, and throughout our 200 plus history.
I would like to add that in addition to the multi-faceted materials contained in Edsitement on the U.S. Constitution and all the other pertinent documents for our U.S. History, I had the pleasure of working with the ConSource Foundation last year in a celebration of Constitution Day. They also house original documents and materials pertaining to the Constitution that I believe teachers would find very helpful. I have included their url for your convenience.