This lesson gives an article-by-article overview of the structure and function of the U.S. Constitution. Students learn about the duties and powers of the three branches, the amendment process, and the role of the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. (Note: Anatomy of the Constitution now includes content previously covered by the lesson Directions for Democracy.) LESSON OBJECTIVES: Explain the structure, function, and powers of the U.S. government as established in the Constitution. *Identify the roles of the three branches of government. *Describe the constitutional amendment process. *Interpret the intentions of the Preamble of the Constitution.
iCivics was founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2009 to ensure that all Americans have the knowledge and will to participate in our unique experiment in self-government. Since then, iCivics has become the nation’s premier non-profit civic education provider of high-quality, non-partisan, engaging, and free resources to more than 9 million students annually, in all 50 states. That equates to the majority of our nation’s middle and high school students. iCivics first-of-its-kind digital civic library includes more than 260 curricular resources, digital literacy tools, professional learning materials, and educational video games in the social studies subject area.
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The United States annexed Texas after years of debate. In this mini-lesson, students learn about Texas' independence from Mexico, the role of slavery in delaying Texas' admission, and the sneaky way President Tyler pushed annexation through in the final hours of his presidency. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Illustrate the boundary claimed by the Republic of Texas after its independence from Mexico. *Depict the Texas boundary defined by Spain in 1805. *Draw the Santa Fe Trail. *Use compass directions, lines of latitude, and meridians to draw features on a map.
Students learn the purpose of appellate-level courts and how those courts operate differently from the trial courts most people are familiar with from watching television. By following the case of a real middle school girl who was strip searched at school, students find out what happens when someone takes a case all the way to the Supreme Court. Through this case, students learn about the structure of the federal court system and the way appellate courts decide cases.
LESSON OBJECTIVES: Explain the purpose of the appellate courts. *Describe how appellate courts work. *Compare the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. *Define the following terms: precedent, opinion, dissent, brief, oral argument, en banc, petition.
Ever tried to win a disagreement? In Argument Wars, you will try out your persuasive abilities by arguing a real Supreme Court case. The other lawyer is your competition. Whoever uses the strongest arguments wins!
Cases include: Bond v. United States; Brown v. Board of Education; Gideon v. Wainwright; Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier; In Re Gault; Miranda v. Arizona; New Jersey v. T.L.O.; Snyder v. Phelps; Texas v. Johnson.
For English and Multilingual Learners: Use the support tool, Spanish translation, voiceover and glossary. LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Analyze the arguments and outcomes of landmark Supreme Court cases Evaluate available arguments to assess whether reasoning is sound and support is relevant or irrelevant Recognize the significance of the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent in deciding cases
Make your students' game play more meaningful by using our activity and assessment set designed specifically for Argument Wars. This easy-to-use Extension Pack helps you give context and purpose to the game, as well as reinforce and assess the game concepts. That means deeper learning for students, and best practices around game-centered learning for you!
Extension Packs require PowerPoint and are designed for use with projectors or interactive whiteboards. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Explore the nature of court cases about constitutional rights *Analyze the kinds of support used to argue a constitutional rights case *Identify appropriate arguments for landmark Supreme Court cases
This lesson presents a crash course in the relationship between money, banks, and lending in our economy. Students first learn the basics about money and banks. Then they then learn about banks' role as lenders and find out why lending plays such a huge role in our economy. Students learn about the Federal Reserve, inflation, and the Fed's role in regulating our economy. Finally, they learn the difference between loans that serve as investments and loans for things that decrease in value, as well as the ugly side of borrowing and lending. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Describe the role of the Federal Reserve as the nation's central bank. *Explain the impact of banks and the Federal Reserve on the money supply and the national economy. *Identify the importance of saving and borrowing in the U.S. *Identify the role of banks in channeling funds from savers to borrowers. *Explain that the government creates currency and coins and that there are additional forms of money. *Describe the advantages and disadvantages of using credit.
This mini-lesson looks at "The First American", Benjamin Franklin. He is the only Founding Father that signed all three major documents that founded the United States of America: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris in 1783, and the United States Constitution. Students will explore the many roles he took during the founding of America. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Recognize how various individuals and groups contributed to the development of the U.S. government. *Trace the impact of significant events that surrounded the founding of the United States. *Big Ideas: signer of three major U.S. documents, Declaration of Independence, diplomat, Treaty of Paris, Constitution, Join or Die political cartoon
This mini-lesson covers the basics of the Supreme Court's decision that established a school's ability to prohibit inappropriate student language on campus. Students learn about the First Amendment right of free speech, and explore the many different ways the Supreme Court has interpreted it. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Describe the rights protected by the First Amendment *Identify the main arguments put forth in the case *Describe the rationale behind the Supreme Court's decision *Identify different types of speech that are protected by the First Amendment *Evaluate the impact of the Supreme Court's decision on the issue of student expression at school and individuals' rights
Do your students like running things? The new version of Branches of Power allows them to do something that no one else can: control all three branches of the U.S. government. In Branches of Power your students will: Pick leaders for each branch of government; Create a presidential agenda and learn about the executive branch powers; Introduce bills and pass laws out of Congress; Apply judicial review to passed laws. For English and Multilingual Learners: Use the support tool, Spanish translation, voiceover and glossary. LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Simulate the way separation of powers and checks and balances limit government Analyze the structure, functions, and processes of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches Illustrate the law making process at the local, state, and federal levels
Make your students' game play more meaningful by using our activity and assessment set designed specifically for Branches of Power. This easy-to-use Extension Pack helps you give context and purpose to the game, as well as reinforce and assess the game concepts. That means deeper learning for students, and best practices around game-centered learning for you!
Extension Packs slides can be accessed with Google Slides and are designed for use with projectors or interactive whiteboards.
This Extension Pack now includes English language learner (ELL) supports. We've included tips and practice that help make differentiated instruction a breeze. Best of all, new instructional scaffolds now mean this lesson is adaptable for a wide range of learners! LESSON OBJECTIVES: Simulate the way separation of powers and checks and balances limit government *Illustrate the law making process at the local, state, and federal levels *Analyze the structure, functions, and processes of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches
This mini-lesson covers the basics of the Supreme Court's decision that overturned "separate but equal" in public schools. Students learn about segregation and "equality under the law," and they use what they learned to craft compound sentences following a structured format. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Describe segregation and the 14th Amendment "equal protection of the law" *Identify the main arguments put forth in the case. *Describe the Supreme Court's decision and analysis. *Identify the impact of the Court's decision. *Write compound sentences
Every election, candidates spend A LOT of money on their campaign. Do your students know where the candidates get that money and what they spend it on? Do they know how to find out? Use this printable campaign finance infographic/poster to show students the cost of running a campaign, and how the FEC can help hold candidates accountable.
Want a little more bang for your buck? Check out our Money Talks Google Slide deck and guide your students through the infographic with information and discussion for a fuller understanding of campaign finance.
Love this infographic? Explore all of our free election curriculum and teaching resources at our Election Headquarters. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Understand how campaigns are funded and what candidates spend money on *Explore the role and purpose of the FEC in the electoral process
Thousands of bills are introduced in Congress each year, but very few actually become law. So, how does a bill become a law? Use this printable infographic to follow a decision tree through the life and death of a bill in Congress. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Describe how a bill becomes a law *Recall points at which a bill can die in Congress *Identify the members of government involved in the legislative process
In this lesson, students evaluate hypothetical candidates by establishing and applying their own criteria for selecting public officials. Through a variety of activities, students assess political candidates based on their qualifications, experience, campaign speeches and campaign materials. Students track campaign promises, explore voting records and evaluate the legitimacy of information resources. The role of the media, fundraising and opinion polls in the electoral process is also discussed.
Check out our Candidate Report Card activity where students apply the skills they learn in this lesson to current political races.
Love this lesson? Explore all of our free election curriculum and teaching resources at our Election Headquarters. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Establish, explain and apply criteria useful in selecting public officials. *Evaluate political candidates based on their qualifications, experience, speeches and advertisements. *Examine candidates' promises and how they align with the offices they seek and their voting records. *Evaluate information and arguments from various sources. *Identify stands taken by candidates on issues.
Students explore the many roles filled by their county government and the role of county governments in a federalist system. After a close examination of the county, students create their own fictional county! Students are familiarized with fun facts about county government and analyze the transition of county development through the lens of westward expansion.
This resource was created with support from the National Association of Counties. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Identify counties as an extension of state government. *Define Dillon's Rule and Home Rule. *Identify the organizational structures and duties of county government, including the names and functions of county officials. *Identify the types of services counties provide. *Compare counties' revenue sources. *Identify the effect of unfunded mandates on counties.
Election Day is coming, are your students prepared to vote? In our completely reimagined Cast Your Vote, students will discover what it takes to become an informed voter - from knowing where they stand on important issues to uncovering what they need to know about candidates. This new version of Cast Your Vote allows your students to simulate the voting process and: Learn about the importance of local elections, Watch candidates discuss important issues in Town Hall debates, Identify issues that matter to them and rate candidates' stances, Collect their own notes on candidates within an in-game app. For students with visual or mobile impairments: This game offers a keyboard navigation mode, as well as a screen reader to supplement the use of sound effects and voiceover. You can access these tools via the dropdown menu in the top left corner of the game screen.
For English and Multilingual Learners: Use the support tool, Spanish translation, voiceover and glossary. LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Establish, explain and apply criteria useful in selecting political leaders. Evaluate candidates based on their qualifications, experience, voting record, endorsements, and messaging. Evaluate information and arguments from various sources to identify stands taken by candidates on issues. Compare different perspectives and prioritize issues according to personal views.
Students learn that they are citizens at many levels of society: home, school, city, state, and nation! Students create a graphic organizer that diagrams citizen rights and responsibilities at these different levels of citizenship. They also learn the sources of their rights and responsibilities at each level. We recommend following this lesson with the iCivics lesson, "The Global You." LESSON OBJECTIVES: Define citizenship on five levels (home, school, city, state, nation). *Describe key rights and responsibilities of citizens. *Identify the source of rights and responsibilities at each level of citizenship. *Recognize conflict between rights and responsibilities. *Suggest examples of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in their own lives.
This mini-lesson covers the Supreme Court's decision about limiting government restrictions on campaign contributions. Students learn about campaign finance, Super PACs, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold Act), and the First Amendment. Students compare campaign tactics, and evaluate the cost and effectiveness of reaching a large audience. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Describe the rights protected by the First Amendment *Identify the main arguments put forth in the case *Define corporations, Super PACs, campaign finance, and the Federal Election Commission *Describe the rationale behind the Supreme Court's decision *Identify the impact of the Supreme Court's decision on political campaigns
The 14th Amendment defined natural born citizenship for the nation. Over a century later, the clause is still making news. This mini-lesson examines the 14th Amendment's Citizenship Clause, explains why it was created, and introduces students to questions raised in political debate around birthright citizenship.
How to use this lesson: Use this lesson by itself or pair it with more iCivics resources, like the Supreme Court cases Elk v. Wilkins (1884) or our lesson Citizenship: Just the Facts. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Identify the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment *Describe a reason the 14th Amendment was created *Describe the rationale behind the Supreme Court's decision *Demonstrate an understanding of key vocabulary in the Citizenship Clause *Identify two ways a person can become a citizen of the United States according to the 14th Amendment
In this lesson, students get the basics of U.S. citizenship. As a foundation for studying the rights and responsibilities of citizens, they'll learn what it means to be a citizen and how people become U.S. citizens. Students also look at related U.S. symbols and traditions, such as the flag, U.S. holidays, and patriotism, and they examine how the right of U.S. citizenship has changed over time.
LESSON OBJECTIVES: Define citizenship *Identify ways to become a U.S. citizen *Describe loyalty and treason *Identify the U.S. national anthem and major U.S. holidays, including Independence Day *List rights and responsibilities of both U.S. citizens and all U.S. residents *Define the Selective Service System *Trace the progress of citizenship and voting rights for different groups over time
This is a full unit of study from iCivics, featuring multiple lesson plans with presentations, downloadable documents, and more. Students will learn what it means to be a U.S. citizen and how citizenship is obtained. They will compare and contrast personal and political rights with social responsibilities and personal duties. Students will explore global citizenship, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens in other countries. They will also learn about community engagement by selecting a problem of their own and creating a plan to solve it.
Students learn the basic steps of civic action and what it takes to make change, following the "I AM" model (Inform, Act, Maintain). Along the way, they explore the change-making examples of four key movements: women's rights, disability awareness, Native American rights, and migrant farm worker rights. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Explain how civic action can affect change *Explain how citizens communicate with public officials (protest, petition, sit-ins, etc.). *Compare and contrast views on a contemporary issue. *Describe opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process and to monitor and influence government. *Describe three steps involved in civic action: inform, act and maintain the message. *Discuss the movements for the following groups: women, the disabled, Native Americans and migrant workers.
This is a full unit of study from iCivics, featuring multiple lesson plans with presentations, downloadable documents, and more. The Civil Rights unit covers the early days of the expansion of slavery in the United States through the momentous 1950s and 60s and into the modern Civil Rights Movement. Use primary documents, readings, activities and more to introduce your students to key concepts, events, and individuals of this facet of American history.
Meet the superhero legislation of civil rights. Students are introduced to eleven categories of civil rights protections with a focus on Title VII, which bans discrimination in the workplace. Students gain an understanding of how the Civil Rights Act affects people's lives and apply civil rights protections to real-life scenarios.
How to use this lesson: Use this lesson by itself or pair it with more iCivics resources, like the Supreme Court case EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch (2015) or lessons from our Civil Rights unit. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Identify several protections in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 *Describe a reason why the Civil Rights Act was created *Apply Civil Rights Act protections to real life scenarios *Analyze how the Civil Rights Act impacts people's lives and the country as a whole
The Civil War and Reconstruction Era brought about the end of slavery and the expansion of civil rights to African Americans through the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Compare the Northern and Southern states, discover the concepts of due process and equal protection, and understand how the former Confederate states reacted to the Reconstruction Amendments. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Identify the division of the U.S. at the outbreak of the Civil War. *Describe the expansion of civil rights and liberties in the Civil War/Reconstruction Period. *Explain the purposes of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. *Identify the different perspectives on slavery during the Civil War period. *Determine the differences between the Presidential and Congressional plans for Reconstruction.
This mini-lesson covers the basics of the Supreme Court's decision that determined the government's ability to conduct electronic surveillance of its citizens. Students learn about the First Amendment right to free speech, the Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches, national security, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Students evaluate different forms of government monitoring, and provide their perspective on whether government surveillance is a necessity for national security, or a violation of people's privacy and individual rights. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Describe the rights protected by the First and Fourth Amendments *Identify the main arguments put forth in the case *Analyze the conflict between ensuring national security and protecting individuals' rights *Describe the rationale behind the Supreme Court's decision
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. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Magna Carta *English Bill of Rights *Mayflower Compact *Cato's Letters *Thomas Paine's Common Sense
From the time Columbus first set foot in the New World, Europeans were fascinated with this new land. In this American colonization lesson, students learn about the "Three Gs" that drove them here-gold, God, and glory-and find out how these settlers gave America its start, developed the land economically, and impacted Native Americans and Africans.
LESSON OBJECTIVES: Explain the three main reasons behind European exploration/colonization in North America: economics, religion, and glory. *Explain the impact of European colonization on Native Americans. *Describe the source of labor for the development of the colonial settlements. *Analyze a map of the triangle trade route.
How does the Massachusetts Constitution compare and contrast with the U.S. Constitution? In this lesson, students will find out! Guide your class through some basic similarities and differences as well as side-by-side text analysis with this lesson's integrated reading/activity format. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Describe provisions of the Massachusetts Constitution that define and distribute powers and authority of the state government *Identify additional protections provided by the Massachusetts Constitution that are not provided by the U.S. Constitution *Analyze the differences between amending the U.S. Constitution and amending the Massachusetts Constitution *Distinguish between the enumerated and implied powers of the U.S. Constitution and the Massachusetts Constitution *Compare core documents associated with the protection of individual rights, including the Bill of Rights, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article I of the Massachusetts Constitution
What's the difference between Ohio's state constitution and the U.S. Constitution? And how are these constitutions similar? This lesson helps students learn the answer by letting them get hands-on with side-by-side excerpts from both constitutions. Students will compare and contrast the government structure, individual rights, and amendment processes outlined by each document. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Determine how the Ohio Constitution complements the federal structure of government in the United States. *Compare the state government defined in the Ohio Constitution with the federal government defined in the U.S. Constitution. *Compare and contrast rights found in the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions. *Compare and contrast methods for amending the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions. *Consider Ohioans' responsibilities to state and local governments.
How does Washington's state constitution compare and contrast with the U.S. Constitution? In this lesson, students will find out! Guide your class through some basic similarities and differences as well as side-by-side text analysis with this lesson's integrated reading/activity format. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Determine how the Washington State Constitution complements the federal structure of government in the United States *Compare the state government established by the Washington Constitution with the federal government defined in the U.S. Constitution *Compare and contrast rights protected by the Washington and U.S. Constitutions *Compare and contrast methods for amending the Washington and U.S. Constitutions
Countries often work together to solve problems and fall into conflict when problems cannot be resolved. After learning about motivations and conditions that lead to action (or inaction), students analyze examples of international conflict and cooperation. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Describe conflict and cooperation using past and current events, including the Vietnam War, the War in Afghanistan, the Kyoto Protocol, and the tsunami in Japan. *Analyze the conditions, actions, and motivations of past and current international events.
Need to teach the legislative branch in a hurry? This lesson is designed to cover the basics in a single class period. Students learn what Congress is, what the Constitution says about the legislative branch, and how a bill becomes law. They analyze some actual language from the Constitution, compare the House and the Senate, and simulate the lawmaking process by reconciling two versions of the same fictional bill.
LESSON OBJECTIVES: Explain the structure and powers of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. *Describe the legislative process in the U.S. Congress. *Identify the legislative branch's role in the system of checks and balances/separation of powers. *Analyze a primary source (excerpts of Article I).
This is a full unit of study from iCivics, featuring multiple lesson plans with presentations, downloadable documents, and more. Students will learn how our Constitution was created and what some of its key characteristics are. They will also explore key amendments to the Constitution and their application in protecting citizens' rights.
Constitution Day is September 17, the day in 1787 when our U.S. government was born. Meet your Constitution Day education requirement with this free and engaging lesson plan. This interactive lesson gives students a quick snapshot of the Constitution, including the purpose of each article, the powers of the three branches, how a bill becomes a law, and the concepts of separation of powers and checks and balances.
Enjoyed this lesson? Find more Constitution Day resources in this collection. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Illustrate the structure, function and powers of the government in the United States as established in Articles I, II, and III of the U.S. Constitution. *Describe how the Constitution of the United States provides separation of powers and checks and balances.
After ten years under the Articles of Confederation, Americans realized they needed something different. This mini-lesson shows students the major debates that occurred at the convention, as well as the outcomes that created our system of government. LESSON OBJECTIVES: Recognize how various individuals and groups contributed to the development of the U.S. government. *Trace the impact of significant events that surrounded the founding of the United States. *Big Ideas: Articles of Confederation, alliance, federalist, three branches, checks and balances, bicameral representation, delegation of powers, U.S. Constitution
When the Founders wrote the Constitution, they didn't pull their ideas out of thin air. They created a government based on a set of fundamental principles carefully designed to guarantee liberty. This lesson lets students look at the Constitution from the perspective of its foundational principles. Students make direct connections between these principles, the Founders' intentions, and the Constitution itself, and they learn why the constitutional principles are critical to a free society.
LESSON OBJECTIVES: Analyze the basic principles of the U.S. Constitution *Identify relationships among popular sovereignty, consent of the governed, limited government, rule of law, federalism, separation of powers, and checks and balances *Describe how these principles are incorporated into the Constitution *Explain the concerns that led the Founders to value these principles
In Convene the Council, your students will take on the role of President of the United States and respond to world events with the support of their National Security Council. In Convene the Council, students will learn to: Address international crises through strategic action; Engage with members of the National Security Council; Weigh various policy options; Delegate action to appropriate government agencies and departments; Work to improve core metrics of U.S. prosperity, values, security, and world health. For English and Multilingual Learners: Use the support tool, Spanish translation, voiceover and glossary. LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Explain the basics of foreign policy–making in the United States Evaluate the effectiveness of various foreign policy options in a variety of situations Distinguish among foreign policy tools such as aid, sanctions, and military force Evaluate the potential effect of economic, military, and cultural influence on other countries
Make your students' game play more meaningful by using our activity and assessment set designed specifically for Convene the Council. This easy-to-use Extension Pack helps you give context and purpose to the game, as well as reinforce and assess the game concepts. That means deeper learning for students, and best practices around game-centered learning for you!
Extension Packs offer Google Slides and are designed for use with projectors or interactive whiteboards.
In Counties Work, students learn about local government by playing a county official responding to citizen requests. They will explore questions like: Are citizens making sensible requests? Which county department can best address a citizen's concern? Should taxes be raised or lowered to maintain a balanced budget? How will citizens react-and what's the best action when crisis strikes? For English and Multilingual Learners: Use the support tool, Spanish translation, voiceover and glossary. This game was made with support from the National Association of Counties. The Spanish translation and support for English and Multilingual Learners was made with support from the Jane Nelson Institute for Women's Leadership at Texas Woman's University. LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Simulate the role of county government, including organization, responsibilities, and services Identify appropriate resources and departments of county government to solve problems Consider how a budget and major sources of local revenue affect both services and citizens