Lesson Plan: Amendment Investigation
How do the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, & 14th Amendments to the Constitution Impact America?
ABOUT THIS LESSON
In the 8th grade social studies classroom, finding accessible and somewhat high-interest connections to the Constitution is very important to engage students at this level. Therefore, choosing amendments that clearly offer that engagement was key. The 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, & 14th Amendments all play vital roles in both the historical and current events of the country.
Students will be assigned to a team that will be assigned one of the five amendments. They will “investigate” the historical origins of the amendment, make connections to the world today, and lead a discussion about key ideas.
Six ninety minute class periods (four for introduction and research/work-time & two for presentations/seminars)
RESOURCES (title only – attach complete files separately)
Amendment Investigation Packet
Access to Interactive Constitution
Internet for research (historical background and current events/articles)
Assorted non-fiction texts on amendments
This project comes at the conclusion of the study of the Bill of Rights and other amendments. It is intended to allow for a deeper dive into five of the more significant and controversial amendments.
- Understand the meaning of their assigned amendment
- Connect the amendment to real-life applications and locate a text to share with the class
- Identify a meaningful Supreme Court Case(s) on the amendment
- Utilize the Interactive Constitution’s “Writing Rights” and “Matters of Debate” to make a scholarly interpretation of the amendment’s issues. This will be done individually
- Working as a team, create a presentation that shares their findings with the class and prepare for a “Discussion Seminar” based loosely upon the Socratic Seminar model
- B.8.1 Interpret the past using a variety of sources, such as biographies, diaries, journals, artifacts, eyewitness interviews, and other primary source materials, and evaluate the credibility of sources used
- B.8.5 Use historical evidence to determine and support a position about important political values, such as freedom, democracy, equality, or justice, and express the position coherently
- B.8.6 Analyze important political values such as freedom, democracy, equality, and justice embodied in documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights
- C.8.1 Identify and explain democracy’s basic principles, including individual rights, responsibility for the common good, equal opportunity, equal protection of the laws, freedom of speech, justice, and majority rule with protection for minority rights
- C.8.2 Identify, cite, and discuss important political documents, such as the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and landmark decisions of the Supreme Court, and explain their function in the American political system
- C.8.7 Locate, organize, and use relevant information to understand an issue of public concern, take a position, and advocate the position in a debate
As this lesson comes at the end of the unit on the Constitution, students will decide upon a direction to follow at a group level. The teacher, once the project has been explained, will serve as a resource and mediator. The attached Amendment Investigation Project packet outlines all of the work that needs to be accomplished.
- There are FIVE amendments in play for this assignment. Students will be placed into teacher-created groups to better ensure groups of “equal” representation of all students.
- Distribute and go over Amendment Investigation packet. Explain the different tasks that each group AND individual will be responsible for throughout the project. Establish a timeline and deadline.
- Student groups will be given significant time in class to meet the project goals and objectives.
POST LESSON ACTIVITIES
Upon completion of all five presentations and seminar discussions, students will be assigned the Wrap-Up essay, which asks students to justify why the five amendments selected for the project were chosen. See attached document.