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Framing the Constitution

Name: Tim Brown Date: 4/4/18

Brief Class Description (contextual information including number of students, subject,

level, IEP/ELL/GT or other special considerations): 9th Grade U.S. Government, 28 students
in the class, 16 white, 6 black, 4 Hispanic, 2 Asian, 3 GT

Unit and Unit Goals: Foundations of US Government

Lesson Topic: The Constitution

Prior Knowledge (How do you know the students are ready for this lesson?): The most
common and most effective way to test student knowledge comes in the form a KWL chart. In
the case of this class, students would have been given the chart to fill out at the end of the last
lesson so I have an idea of where students are on the subject for this class.

Common Core Objective Assessment Activity(ies)
Disciplinary Literacy (Which step(s) of
Standards DRL teach this
objective?- refer
1. 1. Students will be 1. Vocabulary Bingo Concept
Literacy Standard able to interpret text will show whether Development activity
CCSS.ELA- in the Constitution to students understand
LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 complete a the text in the
Read closely to determine vocabulary bingo Constitution
what the text says explicitly activity.
and to make logical
inferences from it; cite
specific textual evidence
when writing or speaking to
support conclusions drawn
from the text

2. 2. Students will be 2. Class discussion Discussion

Writing Standard able to discuss regarding the
CCSS.ELA- current amendments interpretation of the
LITERACY.W9-10.1.B within the Constitution and how
Develop claim(s) and Constitution and the ideas in the Bill of
counterclaims fairly argue the legitimacy Rights could be
supplying evidence for each
while pointing out the
of the law while also adapted to 21st
strengths and limitations of understanding century life.

both in a manner that possible limitations

anticipates the audience’s through a group
knowledge level and

3. 3. Students will be 3. Closing activity

Content Standard able to understand the that will reference a
D2.His.5.9-12 framers intentions text used in the silent
Analyze how historical and discuss change reading activity
contexts shaped and over time.
continue to shape people’s

Materials Needed (Include Text Macrostructure):
over-time/ - Silent reading piece/Info Text

Computers or access to the internet

Worksheets accompanying the lesson
Printed out note templates

Technology Integration/Needs: Computer in order to access the different aspects of the lesson
that are made available. Materials accessible through laptop include; online version of textbook,
all worksheets involved in the lesson.

Lesson Procedure*(see below for more details):

1.a. Readiness: Motivation Activity: Students will view a number of current news headlines
relating to various constitutional amendments to build an understanding the amendments
still have very real ramifications even 230 years later.

For example, Chicago Tribune headline: “Students says First Amendment rights violated when
school ‘threatened’ him to be quiet during Cary’s mayor visit” “Ban on Guns Near Parks Violates the Second Amendment, Illinois Supreme
Court Says”

New York Times: “Fifth Amendment Makes it Hard to Build A Case Against Michael Flynn”

The purpose to viewing these will give students an impression that these laws are still the main
guiding force of the United States government. They are referenced in all decisions made by all
three branches of the government.

The second part would be a writing activity. The students would be given a worksheet with the
first, second, fourth and fifth amendments listed in brief detail so they can begin to develop a

brief idea. Then they will write about instances that they have seen or heard of that may violate
or directly relate to a constitutional amendment. The purpose of this is not to gauge whether the
students get everything right or wrong, but rather to see what they understand and what they may
need more elaboration on. Students asking questions is encouraged.

Sample Questions/Responses
 How often are amendments used to decide a court case?
 How often are they violated?
 Are new amendments added often?

Time Allotted: 10 Minutes

Adaptations (for IEP, ELL, culture, and other special needs): Access lesson
through computer or can request a worksheet that has all details of the activity if
there is confusion.

Transition (explicitly linking concepts/activities/objectives): Now that we have

introduced the importance of the Constitution in today’s national culture, we will
view a PowerPoint underlining the key concepts written out within the

1.b. Readiness: Background Knowledge Activity: Before we move any further, we are going
to fill out another KWL chart. This time, I want you to focus on the Bill of Rights. Fill out
the first two sections of the chart, or what you think you know and what you want to learn.

What I want to
What I know What I learned

- It protects our - What else is in the Bill of

individual freedom Rights?

- It protects our - Are there exceptions to what is

freedom of speech written in the Bill of Rights?

- Part of the - What is the difference between

Constitution the amendments in the Bill of
Rights and the rest of the
- Contains first 10 amendments of the
Amendments Constitution?

Time Allotted: 5 minutes


Adaptations: A physical copy as well as a digital copy will be provided for

students that prefer

Transition: Alright class, now we can start to get into the more exciting parts of
the lesson. Using knowledge from our lecture last class, we’re going to play a
game of vocabulary bingo.

1.c. Readiness: Concept Development Activity: Vocabulary Bingo will be structured the same
way as regular bingo is. I will provide all of you with a bingo board with 25 open boxes, just
like the traditional layout. After you have filled in all 24 boxes with the words provided on
the board, I will read off the definition of a word and you will place a circle over the word
that fits the definition. The words used will all be the same and will only be words that have
been directly referenced in class and pre-assigned readings. When you think you have bingo,
call it out so that I can check over your board. To ensure that we have multiple winners, we
will continue to play until 4 students have gotten bingo. You will only win if all your words
match the definitions I’ve read out.

Checks Popular Reserved

and Preamble 1st Amendment
Sovereignty Powers

Concurrent Due Impeach Constitutional George

Powers Process Convention Washington

Thomas Alexander James 2nd

Jefferson Free
Hamilton Madison Amendment

Articles Executive
Amendment Bill of Framers
of Branch

Legislative Anti-
Judicial Federalists Congress
Branch federalists

Time Allotted: 15 minutes

Adaptations: Definitions will be read multiple times to ensure all students have an
equal chance to answer accurately.

Transition: Now that we’ve played some bingo and had some fun, we’re going to
look at a piece that was published on the Scholastic website about how
interpretation of the Constitution has changed over time.

1.d. Readiness: Purpose for Reading Activity – You will view and read a short piece published
by Scholastic that lays out how the Constitution has remained dynamic. This piece illustrates that
the framers of the Constitution understood that the country would evolve and the chief set of
laws guiding society would also change. I want you all to pay attention to not only how often the
interpretation has changed but how this story could apply to some of the current conversations in
this country.

Time Allotted: 5 minutes

Adaptations: Physical printout will be provided along with a corresponding note

taking template that will encourage students to take notes and ask questions that
can later be used in the group discussion.

Transition: Now that we understand what students will be reading and why it is
important to pay close attention, read this short piece here and take notes
regarding why the changes that took place occurred.

2. Silent Reading Activity – This piece by Scholastic lays out how the interpretation of the
Constitution can change through generations. Note the last time it was changed and keep this
question in mind, if you could change one thing about the Constitution, what would it be and
why would you want to change it? During this activity, I want for you and the other three
members at your table to collaboratively annotate this text. First I will give you time to read
through the text. After the initial three or four minutes, I will start a timer and each student will
go through again and annotate their text for one minute. After that you will rotate your text to the
person to your left until everyone has had a chance to annotate your worksheet. Highlight and
make some comments in the margin.

*Sample Annotation, each color represents the work of a different student


How the Constitution Has Changed Over Time

Matt = Yellow
James = Blue
Stacy = Green
In 1787, only white men over 21 could vote, and the President could
Jane = Red
serve for as long as he was elected! These Constitutional amendments
Matt: Surprising the that women
could not vote
changed those laws.
James: Why wouldn’t George
15th Amendment. This amendment, ratified in 1870, said that no Washington serve forever?

citizen's vote could be taken away because of his race or color or Stacy: White men over 21 were
the only voters until 1870
because he was once a slave. In 1863, President Lincoln signed the
Jane: The Emancipation
Emancipation Proclamation, giving slaves their freedom. Nine years Proclamation didn’t give slaves
the right to vote
later this amendment gave citizens of all races the right to vote. It was
Stacy: Women couldn’t vote until
a start in giving blacks full equality with whites. 1920

Jane: It’s interesting that freed

19th Amendment. After this amendment was ratified in 1920, all slaves were able to vote before
women in the U.S. were allowed to vote. In 1787, men were always
Matt: Didn’t know the 22nd
considered head of the household. Only they could vote. But women amendment described how long
presidents could serve
were becoming better educated. By 1848, they were working together

to gain voting rights. Lawmakers were finally convinced 72 years

later that women could vote as intelligently as men.

22nd Amendment. This amendment limits a president to two terms

in office. George Washington started the presidential tradition of

serving for two four-year terms. President Franklin Roosevelt, who

was elected four terms in a row, was the first to break with this

tradition. Many Americans thought that his four terms had allowed

him to become too powerful. This national feeling helped get this
Stacy: Why change the rule?
amendment ratified in 1951.
James: I wouldn’t be able to vote
26th Amendment. This amendment was passed in 1971, and it gave for almost seven more years!

people 18 to 20 years old the right to vote. The national voting age Matt: If you can serve in the
military at 18, why can’t you
had been 21. Eighteen-year-olds are old enough to join the U.S. drink until you’re 21?

armed forces. Many people think that this makes them old enough to

vote for U.S. leaders, too. This amendment had widespread support. It

was ratified in only four months.

Why has the Constitution changed?

Here's why, including what might be in store for the future of the


You may have heard the U.S. Constitution called "a living document."

Though it may seem like a dry piece of paper to you, it really is Jane: The Constitution changes
with the time
designed to live and grow as the nation grows.

Even the Founding Fathers knew it might have to change with the

times. Article Five of the Constitution spells it out: "The Congress, Matt: How could the Founding
Fathers anticipate the advent of
whenever two-thirds of both Houses [the House and the Senate] shall the internet?

deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution . . ."

States were also given a chance to propose changes, or amendments.

Three-fourths of the states have to approve the amendment for it to

become law.
Stacy: Can any bill be perfect?
In the past 200 years, the Constitution has been amended 27 times.
James: Difficult to get three out of
The 13th Amendment, in 1865, forever banned the practice of slavery.
four people to agree on
something, let alone
Jane: I wouldn’t mindthree fourths
a president
The 15th Amendment, in 1870, gave all citizens the right to vote,
of the states
serving for six years then having
regardless of their race. a new face
Jane: Not very many changes

Americans have added laws only to take them back. In 1919, the 18th Stacy: Both came right after the
Matt: War
Why favor a repeal?
Amendment was passed. It banned the making and selling of alcohol.

But it was impossible to get all people to stop drinking. Many people
James: Interesting to use one
felt the government had no right to make laws about their private amendment to cancel out another

habits. So in 1933, the 21st Amendment was adopted. It repealed, or

canceled, the 18th Amendment. James: Do you limit the number

of times they can be elected as
The nation may need amendments in the future. For example,

advances in technology may change the way we communicate.

Someday, we may be able to vote from our own homes, hooked into Matt: How many new
amendments have been proposed?
central computers through our TV sets. And what if we are able to

live in space? We may need new laws to govern space life.

What kind of laws do you think we will need in the future? How

would you change the Constitution if you could?

Newstime asked that question of people who've worked closely with

the Constitution. Here are their responses.

Warren Burger, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1969-

86: "It is not perfect, as Franklin said, but the best thing of its kind

that was ever put together."


Jimmy Carter, President, 1977-81: "[One of the] changes I would like to see in the

Constitution: Elect Presidents for one six- or seven-year term."

Gerald Ford, President, 1974-77: "I would favor repeal of the 22nd Amendment that imposes a

two-term limitation on a President's service."

Richard Nixon, President, 1969-74: "I would lengthen the term of members of the House of

Representatives from two years to four years. This would give them more time to concentrate on

policy instead of politics!"

Time Allotted: 10-15 minutes

Adaptations: Physical copies will be provided along with materials to properly

annotate the text. A digital version will also be provided should students prefer
that method.

Transition: So now that we’ve read about some various reasons that the
Constitution, we’re going to break up into a fishbowl for a discussion about
current day changes we could propose.

3. Discussion Activity: We’re going to split the class up into two groups. I’ll number you off
one, two, one, two and depending on your number, that is going to detail if you begin in the
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fishbowl or on the outside. We’re going to create two circles of desks, one smaller circle in the
middle of the room with the chairs close together and one large circle around the first with the
desks more spread out. If you are a one, you will be in the middle of the fishbowl to begin. If you
are a two, you will be on the outside of the fishbowl. Only the students in the inner circle may
speak during the discussion. If you are on the outside of the fishbowl, take notes and listen to
your peers responses. Write down if you agree or disagree with another students point and be
prepared to participate after the first group has gone.

Sample questions/answers - *Student responses are generic talking points used most commonly
by both sides of the political spectrum and do not represent any of my own personal views*

Teacher: With all the stories in the news about gun violence, do you think that we could stand to
change the second amendment?
Matt: I think that we should at least consider changing the fact that people under 18
shouldn’t be able to purchase a gun
James: But what about the students who grow up around guns and are responsible enough
to own one before they turn 21.
Matt: Why would someone younger than 18 realistically need one though?
Stacy: And what about the threat to schools?
James: If anything, I think that taking away weapons from people doesn’t seem promote
safer conditions though.
Jacob: Should you be able to buy a gun used by military personnel?
Lauren: This law was also written when we still used muskets, the reading even said the
Constitution is a living document that changes with the time.
Kyle: The founders probably didn’t expect the internet either though.
Teacher: Why don’t we look at what the 2nd amendment actually says? (Shown on board) The
amendment says “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the
right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
So it says we can own guns to fight against tyranny, whether by the government or by external
forces and that the government can’t take that right away from me. What is are some potential
revisions that you would propose?
Samantha: We could make background checks tougher
Teacher: What do you mean by that?
Samantha: If you have served time or have a history of violence you should be unable to
buy one.
Avery: What about just repealing the amendment altogether?
James: That doesn’t seem like a realistic solution to the problem though. Taking away the
rights from millions to punish a few isn’t fair to the millions.

After about maybe 12 minutes of debate, we will switch and the group on the outside of the
fishbowl will move to the inside and vice-versa.

Time Allotted: 25-30 minutes

Adaptations: Guiding questions will be provided ahead of time, most likely the
class prior, and students are encouraged to answer the questions on their own to
use for the debate.
DRL 11

Transition: Now that we’ve heard from some of your classmates why they think
the Constitution should be changed, we’re going to return to our articles that we
annotated before the discussion.

4. Re-reading Activity: I want you all to re-read the section about why the Constitution has
changed over the years. Read the section and think about how your classmates’ ideas line up with
the traditional understandings as to why the Constitution has changed.

Time Allotted: 2-4 minutes

Adaptations: During the debate, the instructor will be taking their own notes as to
what the students’ responses are. My notes will detail the class ideas referenced in
the re-reading activity.

Transition: For homework, I want you all to write a rough draft to the following
question: Why is the Constitution regarded as “living document”?

5. Follow Up Writing Activity (Closing Activity): For homework, I want you all to prepare a
short essay that answers the question, why is the Constitution regarded as a “living document”? I
want the essay to be at least two pages, double spaced and should answer the question. I want
you to include at least three pieces of evidence from the reading to prove your point. You will
turn these in next class and I will look over them and make comments and corrections. Then you
will construct a final paper with the corrections and turn that in next Friday.

Essay Outline

I. Paragraph 1 – Introduction
a. Introduce the topic
b. Define “living document”
i. A document that changes with the time
II. Thesis
a. Explain why this is a living document and the examples you will use to support it
i. Changes in voting rights.
ii. Alter laws that are wildly opposed such as abolition
iii. As technology expands, so do interpretations
III. Paragraph 2
a. Changes in voting laws
i. Only white men over 21 could vote prior to 1787. In 1870, it was
expanded to freed slaves but still only men. Finally, in 1920 women
gained the right to vote
IV. Paragraph 3
a. Change laws that the public doesn’t support
i. Abolition was passed and repealed after wide public opposition
V. Paragraph 4
a. Explain how as technology expands the need to expand our interpretation also
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VI. Paragraph 5
a. Conclusion
i. Wrap up all your topics into one succinct paragraph.

Essay Rubric

1: Unacceptable
2: Poor
3: Average
4: Good
5: Exceptional

Students answered the question thoroughly and had a clear and well organized argument ____/5

Student included at least three specific examples as listed in the text and properly related them
back to their argument ____/5

Examples used were appropriate to answering the question ____/5

Analysis of the question was thorough and specific ____/5

Student used proper grammar and syntax throughout essay ____/3

Essay was turned in on time ____/2

Total: ____/25

After the Lesson:

The students were involved from beginning to end. I was appreciative of how much students
were able to participate and how invested in the material they were. The discussion was thought
provoking and was interesting to get an idea of how 9th grade students understand the world
around them. I hope that the class today and the essay they will be preparing for the future will
make them look differently at the way the Constitution is presented in the mainstream news and
that this lesson has caused them to have a greater understanding of our chief governing text. I
can’t wait to read through the essays to get an idea if the lesson actually stuck with the students.