Civics Lessons

Grade Level: Grades 9-12

Texas v Johnson: Is There a Constitutional Right to Burn the American Flag?

This lesson explores Texas v. Johnson, the 1989 Supreme Court decision on flag burning. First, students read about and discuss Texas v. Johnson. Then in small groups, students role play aides to a U.S. senator on the Judiciary Committee. The committee is considering a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning flag burning, and the aides must make a recommendation on whether the
senator should support or oppose the proposed amendment.

People v Sam Seaside

Case developed for the 2014 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament: Criminal Case
After interviewing the witnesses and conducting extensive forensic analysis, police arrested and charged Sam Seaside for the murder of Nicki Shore.

Jamie R. Killian v. R.A.G.E. Enterprises & Chris Schultz

Case developed for the 2001 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament
Civil Case-Negligence, paint ball injury

This is Our Town Too: The Jury Process

In this lesson students learn about the process of voir dire and the use of peremptory challenges. Through the study of three actual Supreme Court cases, students gain background information for a classroom lesson.

Equal Justice Under Law

In this lesson, students explore the cause-and-effect relationships
between historical events and the development of constitutional
principles that protect the rights of all people in America today. In its first constitutional challenge to the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme
Court decided to hear a case brought by a Chinese immigrant, not an American citizen.

Perdante v. Dalton Academy

Case developed for the 2013 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament: Civil Case
The plaintiff, a member of an up-and-coming high-school mock-trial team, alleges that the defendant, a rival school, made defamatory statements about the plaintiff in the defendant’s online newspaper.

Moot Court : An Appellate Court Simulation People of the State of Michigan v Booker T. Hudson, Jr.

Students learn about the Michigan Supreme Court, developing oral arguments about an actual case examining Fourth Amendment rights related to search and seizure,

John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, and Judicial Review—How the Court Became Supreme

In this lesson, students will learn, the role of the Supreme Court in interpreting the Constitution, the significance of Marbury v. Madison, the concept of judicial review and how Marbury v. Madison solidified it, and the relationship between the Supreme Court and laws passed by Congress and state legislatures

Making Decisions: by Group: The Jury System

Students learn about the nation’s jury system and its importance to the rule of law in the United States. Students will experience the Sixth and Seventh Amendments at work as they engage in the main lesson activities, including one in which they will serve as jurors.

Electing a President

This lesson starts with a political cartoon, then leads into discussion about the Electoral College and electing the U.S. President.

People of New Michigan v. Thomas Osiski

Case developed for the 2012 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament: Criminal Case-Murder

The Exchange: Can Government Prohibit Citizens from Owning Handguns?

This research and deliberation activity encourages students to look at the issue of gun control from different points of view. Then, through deliberation, they will find political measures to address this issue. In any deliberation activity, compromise and listening will play a key role in finding common ground. This lesson is designed to promote an atmosphere of mutual respect for differing points of view on controversial issues.

The Constitution: Drafting a More Perfect Union

This lesson focuses on the drafting of the United States Constitution during the Federal Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia. Students will analyze an unidentified historical document and draw conclusions about what this document was for, who created it, and why. After the document is identified as George Washington’s annotated copy of the Committee of Style’s draft constitution, students will compare its text to that of an earlier draft by the Committee of Detail to understand the evolution of the final document.

Freedom of Expression

Deliberting in Democrcay lesson which gets students to deliberate the question–Should our democracy block Internet content to protect national security?

Becoming an Informed Voter: Preparing for the General Election

This lesson focuses on a voter’s need to be fully informed prior to casting a vote on Election Day and how to acquire the necessary information. Students learn what a yes or no vote or a decision to abstain means on a ballot. Students learn the definitions of amendment,initiative, and referendum. Students are given the opportunity to think critically and to learn firsthand why voters need to be fully informed about ballot questions.

To Sign or Not to Sign: The Ultimate Constitution Day Lesson Plan

This lesson plan was developed to help schools meet the Constitution Day education requirement. Students examine the role of the people in shaping the U.S. Constitution and the ratification process. The lesson closes with an opportunity for students to sign the Constitution, if they choose, and to discuss what it means to sign or not sign.

The American Jury: A Voir Dire Simulation

Students participate in a simulation of the jury selection process

The Public Sphere

Public sphere, public agenda, public opinion, public policy… What’s the difference? Students discover the relationships among these concepts and how they influence the issues we all discuss and care about.

Equal Protection Analysis

Extends students’ understanding of the 14th Amendment, the Constitution, and the history of civil rights in the United States. Students apply knowledge about “equal protection of the laws” to a variety of fact situations and controversies.

The U.S. Constitution: Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States

This unit examines continuity and change in the governing of the United States. Lessons one and two are focused on a study of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and provide access to primary source documents from the Library of Congress. Lesson three investigates important issues which confronted the first Congress and has students examine current congressional debate over similar issues. Lesson four features broadsides from the Continental Congress

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