CONSTITUTION DAY LESSON

LESSON

Celebrating Our Constitution

In 1 day

Why are 200 year old words meaningful?
Overview
Students analyze key vocabulary from the Preamble as they discuss the importance of the Constitution in the lives of people today. Preview Students listen to and analyze the lyrics to the song “Preamble” from School House Rock. Activity In a Response Group, students analyze a word cloud of the Preamble to the Constitution and discuss how the words relate to the 21st century. Processing Students write a short letter to the editor commemorating Constitution Day.

Materials
• Video of “Preamble” from source like iTunes store. You can follow link from School House Rock’s website (http://www.schoolhouserock .tv/Preamble.html) • Copies of Student Handout 1: The lyrics to “Preamble.” One for each student • Visual 1: Word cloud of the Constitution of the United States • Copies of Student Handout 2: Vocabulary Matrix. One for each student • Copies of Student Handout 3: Small Group Discussion items. One for each group

Objectives
In the course of this lesson and participating in the classroom activity, students will • analyze the words to the Preamble of the Constitution. • define key words from the Preamble. • discuss the importance of the Constitution to 21st century citizens.

Key Vocabulary
Union, justice, domestic tranquility, welfare, liberty, posterity, ordain

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Procedures

Preview
Suggested time: 10 minutes 1. Greet students at the door. Distribute a copy of Student Handout 1: Lyrics to “Preamble” to students as they enter the room. 2. Play video and have students analyze lyrics. Play the video “Preamble” for the students and have them analyze the lyrics while the video is playing. 3. Debrief the video and lyrics. Ask the students a series of questions to debrief the song. • What is this song about? • How would you describe the music? Happy? Sad? Why? • What words are unfamiliar to you? Circle them. • Where did these words come from? • Why are 200 year old words meaningful?

Student Handout 1

Response Group
Suggested time:35minutes 1. Place students into groups. Group students heterogeneously into triads. 2. Distribute handouts. Give each student a copy of Student Handout 2: Vocabulary Matrix and each group one copy of Student Handout 3: Discussion Items. You will also want to make a dictionary and/or thesaurus available for each group to use. 3. Explain the purpose of the activity. Project Visual 1: Word Cloud to students and tell them that this lesson is intended to celebrate Constitution Day. To that end, you want them to study the words in the opening of the document. Tell them that each group will be given an excerpt from the Preamble and will define key words and discuss its importance today.
Visual 1

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Procedures

4. Give first excerpt to groups. Challenge students to read the assigned excerpt taken from the Preamble. Have students point to the key vocabulary found in the word cloud. Direct the students to the same vocabulary on their matrix. 5. Have groups use a dictionary or thesaurus to complete the first two columns on their matrix. In the first column, students are to define the term in words appropriate to their age level (not a textbook or dictionary version). In the second column, students are challenged to draw a simple visual to help remember what the term means. 6. Have groups discuss the excerpt. Groups discuss the question in the third column on their matrix. One person from each group will be assigned the role of presenter to share with the rest of the class what the term(s) mean and why they are important to people today. Stress to the students that groups must provide at least one example in their response. 7. Large group discussion. Each group will select one person to present their group discussion to rest of the class. (The role of presenter will rotate for the next excerpt discussion.) Presenters from each group should stand up. One by one, presenters should share how their group defined key vocabulary and the visuals they used to help them remember it. Presenters should then provide an answer to the excerpt and why it is important to people today. 8. Repeat the process. Assign the next excerpt and follow steps 4-7. Have groups rotate the role of presenter so that each person within a group of three will be presenter at least one time.

Student Handout 2

Student Handout 3

Going Digital Suggestion
Instead of a print dictionary or thesaurus, have the students use the internet and sites like www.wordsift.com to find the meaning of key vocabulary.

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Procedures

Processing
Suggested Time: 10 minutes; complete for homework 1. Challenge students to create a letter to the editor. Have students write a short letter to the editor on the topic of Constitution Day and why words written over 200 years ago are still important today. 2. Encourage students to reflect on their small group work and class discussion. As students put their response together, have them use their matrix and memory of the class discussion to assist their writing. © Teachers’ Curriculum Institute

Going Digital Suggestion
Have students use a web tool that allows them to create a realistic looking newspaper item by using http://www.fodey.com/generat ors/newspaper/snippet.asp . Make sure students complete their letter in a word processor before copy/pasting into this web-tool.

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Student Handout 1: Lyrics to “Preamble”

Hey, do you know about the U.S.A.? Do you know about the government? Can you tell me about the Constitution? Hey, learn about the U.S.A. In 1787 I'm told Our founding fathers did agree To write a list of principles For keepin' people free. The U.S.A. was just startin' out. A whole brand-new country. And so our people spelled it out The things that we should be. And they put those principles down on paper and called it the Constitution, and it's been helping us run our country ever since then. The first part of the Constitution is called the preamble and tells what those founding fathers set out to do. We the people, In order to form a more perfect union, Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, Provide for the common defense, Promote the general welfare and Secure the blessings of liberty To ourselves and our posterity Do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

In 1787 I'm told Our founding fathers all sat down And wrote a list of principles That's known the world around. The U.S.A. was just starting out A whole brand-new country. And so our people spelled it out They wanted a land of liberty. And the Preamble goes like this: We the people, In order to form a more perfect union, Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, Provide for the common defense, Promote the general welfare and Secure the blessings of liberty To ourselves and our posterity Do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. For the United States of America...
Note: The lyrics here have a slightly abridged wording of the Preamble to the United States Constitution. The actual document starts, "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union...“

Music & Lyrics by: Lynn Ahrens Performed by: Lynn Ahrens

Visual 1: Word Cloud of Preamble

Word Cloud made possible using www.wordle.net

Student Handout 2: Vocabulary Matrix Directions: 1) Read the excerpt. 2) Define each underlined term in the second column using words students your age would use. 3) Create a simple visual to represent one or more of the terms taken from the excerpt in the third column. 4) With your group, write a brief summary as to why these words from the excerpt are important to citizens today. Be prepared to share a specific example in your group’s response to the large group discussion.
Word Cloud made possible using www.wordle.net

Excerpt

Definition(s)

Visual

Why is it important?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…

…establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare…

…and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Student Handout 3: Discussion Items Directions: Use this handout along with Student Handout 2: Vocabulary Matrix as a guide for the group discussion. Be prepared to have one person in your group share a response to the discussion items related to the excerpt. The role of presenter will rotate for each excerpt.

Word Cloud made possible using www.wordle.net

Excerpt

Discuss the following items related to the excerpt. •What does Union mean? •How would you describe “union” to other classmates? •What did the authors mean when they said “a more perfect union?” •What can we do today to make our union more perfect?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…

…establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare…

•What do the terms Justice, Domestic Tranquility, and Welfare mean? •How would you describe these terms to other classmates? •What did the authors mean when they said “provide for the common defense?” •Give an example of how the government provides Justice, Domestic Tranquility or Welfare. •What do the terms Liberty, Posterity, and Ordain mean? •How would you describe these terms to other classmates? •What did the authors mean when they said“..to ourselves and our Posterity?” •What blessings of Liberty do you hope to pass along to your posterity?

…and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.