Materials

Standards

Objectives

  • Identify the factors that led to the Constitutional Convention

  • Describe some of the compromises in the Constitution

  • Summarize the process of amending the Constitution

Key Concept

  • Changes and compromises were needed to create and pass the US Constitution.

Vocabulary

Tier 2 category
guarantee
Tier 3 checks and balances
separation of powers
Test Words paraphrase

Evidence-Based Reading

  • Fluency: Collaborative Reading: Divide the class into ten small groups. Assign each group an amendment from the Bill of Rights. Ask each group to silently read their assigned amendment and discuss its meaning. Then have the group practice reading it aloud together until they can read it smoothly. Have a leader from each group read their amendment aloud to the class and explain its meaning.

21st Century Skill

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Ask students to identify the problem that supporters of the Constitution faced in trying to get it passed. (Sample answer: pressure from the people to add measures protecting the people’s rights and freedoms) Ask students whether they believe the framers of the Constitution came up with an effective solution. If there is dissent, divide the class into two groups - one that approves of the framers’ solution and one that does not. Ask each group to discuss and list members’ arguments. Then moderate a debate between the two groups.

Research It

  • Compare Government Documents: Have students work in pairs to identify similarities and differences in format and language between historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as compared to a recent bill or resolution. Students can find bills using the Library of Congress’s THOMAS website, https://thomas.loc.gov. Tell students to provide examples of the differences they identify. Have pairs share their findings with the class.

Writing Topic

  • Summarize Article V of the US Constitution

  • Describe the use of each amendment in the US Bill of Rights.

Writing Practice

  • To help students with this activity, have them also think about a time when they were part of a group in which one person had all the responsibility. Students should discuss how this may or may not have been a good situation for them or for the group. Have students use this comparison to help them when completing the writing activity.

Before Lesson

Explain that countries usually describe and create rules for their governments in written documents. Write the Preamble to the US Constitution on the board:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Ask students to identify the goals of the Constitution’s authors as stated in the Preamble. List those goals on the board. (Sample answers: unify the country, maintain order, set up and maintain a military force, help people in need, safeguard citizens freedoms)

Background

Explain to students that prior to the American Revolution, each American colony had a unique relationship with Britain. After the Revolution, the new states had to learn to work together. Each state had its own form of government, economy, and laws. Have students discuss in groups how this is different from today. Invite groups to share their answers. Point out that differences among the states led to disagreements which required compromises in order to create a unified country with a strong central government.

Guided Practice

  • The US Constitution
  • Key Principles of the Constitution
  • Amendments to the Constitution

CORE SKILL

Read a Bar Graph: Tell students that bar graphs can have vertical or horizontal bars that are used to compare data. Have students share their answers to the two questions. Help students to notice that no amendments were passed between 1871 and 1911 and that more amendments were passed in the country’s first century of existence (15) than have been passed since then (12).

Paraphrase Information: Model paraphrasing the fourth paragraph on the page. Example: Seventeen of the Constitutional amendments dealt with three issues: voting rights, government power, and operation of the government. After students complete the activity, ask volunteers to write their paraphrases on the board. Work through the paraphrases as a group to make sure each includes the key words and ideas but does not copy the exact wording of the paragraph.

EXTENSION

Rephrase Language: Use the table on page 28 to help students understand the key principles of the Constitution. Explain how the table makes the information easier to read and understand than a paragraph. The rows and columns show connections and relationships among the ideas in the table. Have students work in pairs to create a similar table for the Bill of Rights.

Evaluate a Failed Amendment: Divide students into groups. Provide each group with the text of a failed amendment, such as House Joint Resolution 208, the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, which would have ensured equal rights under the law regardless of sex. Have the group agree on a paraphrase of their proposed amendment. Then have students use online resources to investigate why the states did not ratify the amendment. Finally, have each group share its conclusions with the class and offer its own assessment of the proposed amendment.

LESSON REVIEW