From this page, you can quickly access the eight original Lesson Plans
that are profiled in this workshop. In addition, you can access Other
Lessons which employ the highlighted constructivist strategies or further
explore the workshop topic.
This lesson demonstrates the use of questioning strategies in mock trials.
It features ninth-grade civics students at Southwest High School in Minneapolis,
Minnesota, in a simulation of a U.S. Supreme Court hearing concerning
a First Amendment case.
Controversial Issues in Practice
In this article, Maria Gallo, director of legal studies and a teacher
at Harry S. Truman High School in the Bronx, New York, presents three
lessons on the First Amendment: The Establishment of Religion, The Free
Exercise of Religion, and Putting It All Together: A Round Table Discussion.
This lesson is the culmination of a 12-week unit developed by the national
Student Voices Project. Students divide into small groups to research
specific community issues, prioritize the issues on the basis of what
they have learned, present their findings to the class, develop a whole-class
consensus on a Student Voices Agenda of issues they think the next mayor
should address, and study the candidates’ positions on the issues
they have chosen to track.
Voting Isn’t Enough
Instructional activities to promote enduring democratic behaviors through
broad voter education are presented. The author, G. Dale Greenawald, is
an educational consultant who has published extensively in the field of
social studies education, and recently served on the faculty of the University
of Northern Colorado.
Voting Is Essential
Rick Blasing, a social studies instructor at LaCrosse High School, LaCrosse,
Kansas, who also serves as a part-time faculty member in the social science
department at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kansas, describes
a lesson plan to help students formulate their own political opinions
in an election campaign through a critical examination of political advertisements,
candidate debates, and political cartoons.
Over three class periods, Leslie Martin’s ninth-graders at West
Forsyth High School in Clemmons, North Carolina, create, present, revise,
and defend a Federal budget, and then reflect on what they have learned.
Dividing the Federal Pie
A simplified version of Leslie Martin's lesson is presented
Budget Cutting vs. Revenue Generation
This leson presents students with an emergency situation that must be funded and asks them to find budgetary solutions.
This lesson takes place in an AP Comparative Government class in which
students engage in a simulation of a constitutional convention during
which they will create a constitution for a hypothetical country they
Student Exercise in Democracy
In this article, Cathy Travis, a long-term Congressional staff person,
presents a lesson on how to amend the U.S. Constitution and engages students
in consideration of the pros and cons of potential new amendments.
Students at Duke Ellington School of the Arts work to create a Museum
of Patriotism and Foreign Policy. Over three days, the lesson alternates
between whole-class discussions and committee work, in which students
determine what will be placed in the museum, using their particular art
major as the basis for their choices.
America Responds to Terrorism: Press Freedom vs.
This lesson, from the Constitutional Rights Foundation, engages students
in a simulation in which small groups represent a Presidential Commission
on Press Rules for a War on Terrorism.
This lesson is part of the service learning curriculum at Anoka High School
in Anoka, Minnesota. Students work in teams to define a project, choose
and meet with a community partner who can help educate them about the
seriousness of the issue, conduct further research on the identified problem,
and present the problem and their proposed solutions first to their peers,
and then to a special session of the Anoka City Council.
Service Learning in the Social Studies
The approach to service learning in the social studies explained here
is based on the work of the Close Up Foundation and the Constitutional
Rights Foundation in Los Angeles in developing Active Citizenship Today
In this lesson, students engage in a structured discussion of a highly
controversial issue—racial profiling—and connect student learning both
to their study of due process in constitutional law and to police procedure
in their study of criminal law.
Creating Strategies and Conditions for Civil Discourse
About Controversial Issues
John Allen Rossi, an assistant professor of education at Virginia Commonwealth
University examines several major approaches to teaching about controversial
issues, explores their benefits and weaknesses, and looks at how they
might be combined with a variety of constructivist methodologies.
In this lesson, each student takes responsibility for writing and distributing
a one-page brief of a Supreme Court case and presenting a summary of the
case to the class. Next, students are assigned to groups of three and
given a hypothetical case. Each team represents either the petitioner
or the respondent, or is part of the Supreme Court. Students prepare their
cases and engage in a mock trial.
Legal Thriller/Alternative Trial Research
In this lesson created by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, students
are given the option of selecting one of 21 trials from the period 1865
to 1993, writing a report about it based on a defined list of questions
and a set of research tips, and making an interesting presentation about
the case to the class.
Legal Thriller Book Review
This lesson, designed by JoEllen Ambrose, provides students with a list
of 28 novels that are courtroom thrillers, or that feature a famous lawyer,
judge, or particular aspect of the legal system. Students are expected
to write a report using a defined format and participate in a Book Club
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