Civics Lessons

What Is A Good Rule? Creating Our Ballot Questions

This lesson offers students the opportunity to play the role of voters with special interests. Students draw up initiatives for new classroom or school rules. Working in groups of four or five, students share their ideas and rationale for new rules.

The President’s Roles and Responsibilities: Understanding the President’s Job

Through these activities, students learn about the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. president and their own roles as citizens of a democracy.

Michigan Court System

The lesson includes a read aloud book to teach students about the Michigan Court System.

The Exchange: Should Students’ Cyber Speech Be Protected Under the First Amendment?

This lesson encourages students to deliberate on the issue of cyber speech and the First Amendment. Through the use of court cases and school policy, students will be able to define student expression rights and then evaluate the necessity and constitutionality of censoring and reprimanding students’ online social networking behavior.

The Michigan Supreme Court

This unit includes ten lessons including a history of the Michigan Supreme Court, Procedures of the Court, and Civil Rights and the Michigan Supreme Court.

Colonial Influences

American colonists had some strong ideas about what they wanted in a government. These ideas surface in colonial documents, and eventually became a part of the founding documents like the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. But where did they come from? This lesson looks at the Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, English Bill of Rights, Cato’s Letters and Common Sense.

Matching Game with the U.S. Constitution

By the end of this lesson, students will understand what the Constitution is and
what it does for them; recognize key images related to the
Constitution and its history.

Orb and Effy Learn About Authority

Grade: K-1
This lesson introduces the study of authority. Children learn when people are exercising authority and when they are exercising power without authority. Children learn how and why authority is useful in society.

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.

I Can’t Wear What??

Students meet Ben Brewer and find out what happened the day he decided to wear his favorite band t-shirt to school in violation of a new dress code rule. Students read a summary of a Supreme Court case to figure out the “rule” that applies to Ben’s problem. This lesson lays the groundwork for students to write two short persuasive essays—one arguing each side of the issue.

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

Voting and the Constitution

Students will learn about the Constitution’s many provisions for voting, including how votes affect the makeup of the government and its branches. The lesson and lesson extensions will have students engage in activities and participate in discussions about how officials are chosen in the three branches of government and how the election process includes the Electoral College.

What Makes an Amendment?

Students will learn about the process of amending the Constitution. They will review the details of the amendment process and discuss its pros and cons. In class activities, assignments, and the Lesson Extensions, student partners and groups will create persuasive presentations that they will share with the class to gain support for an amendment.

A History of Conflict Resolution and the Jury System

Students will gain an understanding of the modern jury system and historical methods of conflict resolution. They will compare and contrast the different trial methods of past and present, and analyze each as a way to resolve conflict. They will examine jury trials and the responsibility to decide the facts pertaining to key questions that jurors must answer. Then students will write a persuasive essay arguing for their preferred method of trial.

Prepare for Trial

In this lesson, students will learn about the relationship between constitutional rights and fair and unbiased jury selection. Students will focus on the process for selecting members of a jury. In addition, they will learn vocabulary relevant to understanding court proceedings, which they will apply in making juror selections. Throughout the main activities and lesson extensions, students will investigate the relationship between constitutional rights and fair and unbiased jury selection.

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.

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.

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.

Why Government?

Students take a look at two political thinkers who spent a lot of time trying to answer the question, “Why Government?” – Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. The lesson asks students to compare and contrast Hobbes and Locke and to think about how these philosophers influenced those that followed in their footsteps.

Citizen Me

Students learn that they are citizens at many levels of society: home, school, city, state, and nation! Students create a graphic organizer that diagrams rights and responsibilities at these different levels of citizenship. They also learn the sources of their rights and responsibilities at each level.

Get Involved with Civic Education in Michigan!