On Constitution Day, the U.S. celebrates the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. The important Bill of Rights, ratified a few years later, composed the first ten amendments to the Constitution. It guaranteed personal liberties such as free speech and the right to trial by jury, while limiting the government’s ability to restrict our rights. The following resources provide multiple entry points to the Constitution and our rights and responsibilities as U.S. citizens.
- Ethics in America uses the Socratic Method to interrogate officials and public figures on the tensions between our guaranteed rights and moral responsibilities at the individual, institutional, and societal levels.
- Democracy in America, program 4, “Civil Liberties: Safeguarding the Individual,” examines our civil liberties and the flexible interpretations of the Bill of Rights by the judicial system when civil liberties conflict.
- In Making Civics Real, workshop 1, “Freedom of Religion,” watch Kristen Borges’s 9th graders interpret and apply the Constitution to a past Supreme Court case on the First Amendment.
- Key political, legal, and media professionals engage in spontaneous and heated debates on controversial issues such as campaign spending, the right to die, school prayer, and immigration reform in The Constitution: That Delicate Balance.
- A continuation of Ethics in America, explore gripping hypothetical and familiar dilemmas in Ethics in America II.
- A Biography of America, program 5, “A New System of Government,” explains what led to the creation of the Constitution of the United States. This program includes an online interactive that allows you to decide if Alexander Hamilton or Thomas Jefferson had the more enduring vision for the United States.
Teach elementary students about how different levels of government function. What is the connection between citizens, community issues, and civic leaders?Visit the Social Studies in Action Library.
Other Annenberg Resources for Constitution Day
- Get ready for Constitution Day by browsing the Civics Renewal Network website for a wide array of free civics education resources from a consortium of nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations including Annenberg Learner. Follow @CivicsRenewal on Twitter for resource links and announcements.
- Visit the Annenberg Classroom: Resources for Excellent Civics Education and browse a smorgasbord of multimedia resources for teaching about civics and the Constitution.
- View the Sunnylands Classroom page to find a Q&A session with Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen G. Breyer and a group of high school students discussing the need for a written Constitution.
Share what you are doing for Constitution Day in the comments. If you use Learner in your classroom, consider submitting your lesson plan to share with others on this blog. Follow the post instructions.