In this part of the unit we get to have fun and be creative while still learning about our Constitution. We've been discussing how the founders of the Constitution were so concerned about a government that did not control like the king had. All through the lessons I keep asking - What's missing? What could be improved/ added? I think the secondary lesson that we teach students in the unit is that it is ok to make mistakes as long we we learn from them and try to improve on them.
I share the objective that they will explore the protections and limitations on authority contained in the Bill of Rights. We have already made a list of rights and responsibilities and will use this to analyze each of the first ten amendments. They will work in small groups to create posters of defining each amendment and share their learning with the class orally. Lastly they will consider how the Bill of Rights might be updated to reflect 21st century circumstances.
I review what we discussed in the previous lesson about what might need to be added to the Constitution to protect our rights better. I share that the Founding Fathers agreed with our opinion and decided to add some Amendments (or changes) that would fix these issues. There were 27 amendments added in all but the first ten became the most important ones. I ask if anyone can tell me what they are called? Someone did guess the Bill of Rights!
I add that while the Constitution writers worried about having a fair government, the people worried about losing their rights. I tell them that together as a class we are going to describe the Bill of Rights with words and pictures to help us understand what guarantees we have that insure our safety and our freedom in this country.
I show them the poster paper, review the rubric and divide them into groups of three to each work on one amendment in kid friendly language or in summary language. They are to create a poster that explains their amendment, shows a positive way it protects them, and a negative example of what it doesn't look like. I review a model poster I made so that they can see the expectations for the project and begin to get ideas for their own work.
I write the expectations for the poster on the board and have students work in their small groups using their activity guide and rubrics. I set a timer for 30 minutes to give them time to read, plan and draw. I warn them when we get to 5 minutes to encourage them to all finish together so we can begin sharing their learning.
Here's a video of their work in progress and the completion strategies they have
And a second groups strategies and thoughts
This section I feel is the most important because it not only showcases students' understanding of the amendments in our lives today, but also teaches students about our rights in a peer-tutoring format.
I want students to present in an interactive way that keeps the audience involved in the learning. I give all students the Bill of Rights Listening Note sheet and tell them my expectations for its completion. I also leak that these notes will be used to respond to a challenge question activity that will reward the winning groups. (candy incentive is such a good way to get them motivated!)
Now for the fun part - students get to share their posters and teach us the meaning of each of their amendments. This is such a great way to teach because students tune in to their peers when they are required to listen and their questions are more pertinent because they care about how they are perceived.
After all groups present and respond, I share that I have some situational questions that I am going to ask them that will demonstrate how well they listened and know how the ten Bill of Rights affect us today.
I read each of the Bill of Rights Challenge Questions and have students signal responses. We keep a tally and congratulate and reward the winning groups. (This could also be completed the next day with the posters posted and both these and their notes used as references)
I want to bring it back to our big question so I ask students how the Bill of Rights affects their lives today? I take responses and share that tomorrow we will review how these rights became the central theme of some of our most famous patriotic songs.