Civics Lessons

Grade Level: Grades 9-12

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 Students will analyze an unidentified historical document and draw conclusions about what this document was for, who created it, and why.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

Jamie Anderson v. Taylor Williams

Case developed for the 2011 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament
Civil Case-Cyber-stalking

The Bill of Rights: Debating the Amendments

In this lesson, students examine a copy of twelve possible amendments to the United States Constitution as originally sent to the states for their ratification in September of 1789. Students will debate and vote on which of these amendments they would ratify and compare their resulting “Bill of Rights” to the ten amendments ratified by ten states that have since been known by this name.

What Makes A Good Judge?

This lesson focuses on the costs and benefits of various judicial selection methods. Students will list characteristics they think essential or valuable to being a good judge, and then see which system of judicial selection – appointment, merit, or election – obtains the highest quality judges. In discussing each method, students will understand the tradeoffs between accountability and independence in judicial selection.
This lesson was developed to be used on Law Day, but does not need to be limited to Law Day.

Voter Identification and the Right to Vote

Students Research positions that divided the Supreme Court on voter identification case-Crawford vs. Marion County

Brown v Board of Education (1954)

This case summary provides teachers with everything they need to teach about Brown v. Board of Education (1954). It contains background information in the form of summaries and important vocabulary at three different reading levels, as well a review of relevant legal concepts, diagram of how the case moved through the court system, and summary of the decision. This resource also includes nine classroom-ready activities that teach about the case using interactive methods.

People v. Alex Johnson

Case developed for the 2010 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament
Criminal Case-Murder of high school student

Constitution Day: The 1965 Alabama Literacy Test

Students learn about literacy tests by taking what they think is a pop quiz on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The Road to the Constitutional Convention

This lesson focuses on the various problems under the Articles of Confederation between 1783 and 1786 that led to the call for the 1787 Convention. By examining documents of Congress, the state governments, and prominent American founders—both public and private—students better understand why many Americans agreed that the Articles should be revised and amended.

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