Teaching the Constitution

The Constitution is all around us; it affects each of us, every day. We are told that it is the most important document to our daily lives, yet most people cannot remember what it says or the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Americans are known for standing up for their rights and insuring their voices are heard, but where does this almost instinctual aspect of the American psyche come from? It is almost a part of our genetic make-up as Americans to dissent, but where does this expectation of rights find its genesis? It can be found in the American people and in our founding document, the Constitution. In this video series, we are going to travel across the United States and find out more about what our Founding Fathers were thinking when they wrote the Constitution, how everyday Americans help define the words that were written on that parchment so long ago, and how our system works to interpret and amend this supreme law of our land. The writing of the Constitution began as a conversation–and since then, the conversation continues to get richer only when your voice is added to the mix.

 

For High School and Middle School Classrooms

The National Constitution Center has developed educational materials for each episode of CONSTITUTION USA which addresses a theme related to the Constitution.

Episode I: A More Perfect Union (Federalism) : Federalism has led to tensions throughout American history and still sparks controversy today.

Episode II: It's a Free Country (Rights) : See how freedom is defined for “We the People” as well as you the citizen.

Episode III: Created Equal (Equality) : See how equality is defined in this episode based on the 14th Amendment.

Episode IV: Built to Last? (We the People) : Does our Constitution stand up to the 21st Century? This question is explored in episode four.

In this digital age, teachers often incorporate video into the classroom as these teachers have done through the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab program. Click here for a project-based video journalism curriculum, media literacy resources and student videos about constitutional issues in their schools and communities.

For Adult Learners

Want to learn more about the Constitution? 

Take a free online course on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights! Immerse yourself in the language of the Constitution and challenge yourself with constitutional questions.

Dig deeper into the Constitution through Montpelier's ConText tool. Through ConText, we are all together crowd-sourcing the most important documents in our nation's history. In the process, you will help to create the document's historical context and strengthen its relevance to the contemporary world.

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