Civics Alliance & Freedom in Education Release Constitution Week Lesson Plans

Calvin Coolidge said it best: “To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.” Every American should know that wonderful truth. Learning it should be the keystone of social studies instruction in our schools.

That’s why the Civics Alliance and Freedom in Education are publishing their first model lesson plans focusing on the Constitution. These Constitution Week Lesson Plans, written by Jonathan Burack from the renowned education resource company MindSparks, are closely aligned with American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards. These lesson plans are a priority as Constitution Week is integral to fulfilling the central promise of American Birthright.

American Birthright created guidelines for social studies classes that would teach students about the ideals and institutions of liberty, civic virtue, and republican self-government. Constitution Week focuses on the most important lesson of all—how our Constitution was created and how our republic preserves the liberties immortally articulated in the Declaration of Independence. Constitution Week is the keystone for the lessons of American Birthright because the Constitution is the greatest American birthright of all.

American Birthright provided standards—broad guidelines to social studies instruction, but not themselves curriculum. The first installment of the actual curriculum is in the five lessons of Constitution Week, which are linked to American Birthright’s Grade 12 Civics standards. These five lessons cover:

  • the Constitution’s design, focusing on the separate functions of the three branches of the federal government—separation of powers;
  • checks and balances, focusing on how the three branches of the federal government work to restrain one another from abusing their powers;
  • the distribution of powers between the federal and state governments—federalism— which increases liberty by further distributing governmental power;
  • the Constitution’s Great Compromise on slavery, which preserved the nascent union at the price of perpetuating the slave trade and slavery itself; and
  • Ratification and the Bill of Rights, in which the American people approved the Constitution under the strict condition that it be amended to provide stronger guarantees of individual liberty.

These five lessons will teach students all the ways that the Constitution was designed to preserve liberty—and how some liberty, alas, would be deferred until the terrible labor pains of our Civil War, which gave to us a new birth of freedom.

We’re also publishing Constitution Week first for good practical reasons.

We want states and school districts to adopt American Birthright, and they’ll be more likely to do so if they know they can give their teachers model lesson plans that cover all the material in the American Birthright standards.

We’re also starting with Constitution Week precisely because there is a Constitution Week, and many states and school districts have legally mandated requirements to teach about the Constitution. Our lesson plans will be useful to many social studies teachers. We drafted Constitution Week for a Grade 12 Civics course, but teachers will be able to adapt these lessons to any high school Civics or United States History class.

Teachers should find Constitution Week easy to use. Each of these five lessons includes Lesson Overviews, Student Learning Objectives, Teacher Directions, Terms and Phrases to Understand, Sources to Read, Standards Met by this Lesson, Sources for Teacher Enrichment, Background Essay, Sources for this Lesson, and Student Activity. Teachers are free to adapt these model lesson plans any way they choose, and we will be delighted if they use their own talents to improve on our product. But teachers should be able to use these lessons for a class, just as they are.

We wrote Constitution Week primarily with public schools in mind, because that’s where the majority of American schoolchildren study. We also hope that private schools and parents in home classrooms will want to use Constitution Week. All Americans share our Constitution as a birthright, and we hope that teachers in every form of education will find Constitution Week helpful.

Constitution Week is just the first installment of an entire suite of model lesson plans linked to American Birthright’s Grade 12 Civics standards. We will follow that suite with model lesson plan suites linked to other grade standards in American Birthright. Every state and school district that adopts American Birthright will have access to our growing library of model lesson plans.

That’s for the future. Constitution Week is fine and self-sufficient work. It will teach our children the blessings of America’s system of republican self-government, and there is no more important lesson they could learn in a social studies class.

Art by Chance Layton 


One thought on “Civics Alliance & Freedom in Education Release Constitution Week Lesson Plans”

  1. ” many states and school districts have legally mandated requirements to teach about the Constitution”

    They ALL do — at least those who receive Federal funding.

    Senator Byrd amended Pub. L. 108–447, div. J, title I, §111, Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 3344 to include:

    “(b) Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.”

    The US Dept of Education discusses this mandate at:

    The other interesting thing is that this is not K-12 specific — “each educational institution” would include Higher Ed….

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