Resources for K-12 Teachers and Students
A national study has revealed that many of today's high school students think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees, and are more accepting of government censorship than adults. The study also found, however, that students have a greater appreciation and understanding of the First Amendment when it is included in their educational curriculums.
This page provides information about resources for teaching about the Bill of Rights and current threats to civil liberties. We hope these resources will assist educators trying to include such issues in their classrooms. Please send any suggestions for additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BORDC Lesson Plans
- Find Someone Who (by Elizabeth Hanson)
- First Amendment (by Farid Zakaria)
- Indirect Representation (by Meagan Magrath)
- Fundamental Principles of the Bill of Rights for K-2 (by Kali Cohn)
- Fundamental Principles of the Bill of Rights for 9-12 (by Kali Cohn)
Other Lesson Plans
- Bill of Rights Institute lesson plans
- A Resource Guide for Teaching the Bill of Rights (PDF) from the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan
- Resources for teaching the Constitution and Bill of Rights from the National Constitution Center
- Lesson plans for teaching the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from Lesson Planet (annual membership $9.95)
- Lesson plans from the courts of the state of Washington
- National Endowment for the Humanities lesson plans
- The Tanenbaum Center has compiled resources for teaching about Park51 (the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque").
- Flex Your Rights
- Scholastic Magazine Resources:
- Bill of Rights/Bill of Responsibility, a 30-minute video in which Bill Maher examines the historical background and current implications of the Bill of Rights, is distributed by Cambridge Educational.
- The First Amendment Schools Project provides students and teachers with news articles on current issues related to the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment. It is also developing lesson plans for teachers about the five freedoms. Schools interested in making a commitment to educating for freedom and responsibility may affiliate with First Amendment Schools and apply for grants.
- OurConstitutionalRights.com provides information on the Constitution and Bill of Rights aimed at young people.
- The National Paralegal College provides excellent resources on freedom of expression.
Constitution Day Resources
- BORDC provides resources for Constitution Day events
- The Constitution Day web site is full of resources for educators and students, federal employees, individuals, and parents.
- The National Constitution Center invites schools, workplaces, and organizations to participate in America Reads the Constitution. Their downloadable kit contains instructions, press materials, parts for 109 readers, and 50 optional additional readings from speeches of famous people.
- The Constitutional Rights Foundation has bundled its educational resources suitable for Constitution Day into one page.
- The Center for Civic Education has created a web page of lessons for different grade levels.
- BORDC's Bill of Rights bookmarks: Download the PDF files (English and Spanish) and print them for your class or purchase them from BORDC's secure online storefront.
For Bill of Rights Day:
- See BORDC's Bill of Rights Day resources
- Start an essay contest for school children, and
have readings of selected essays at a public event.
- Put on a local reading of the Bill of Rights. The National Constitution Center invites schools, workplaces, and organizations to participate in America Reads the Constitution. Bill of Rights Day Lesson Plans from the American Constitution Society, covering topics such as the Fourth Amendment (College level) can be found online.
The Missouri Bar Association: Bill of Rights Lesson Plan (5-12)
The Bill of Rights Institutes offers free webinars for teachers interested in bringing the Constitution into their classrooms.
- TeachableMoment.org, the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, has a number of excellent lesson plans for teaching civil liberties and consitutional issues. We particularly recommend the following lessons:
- PBS offers
- A student-friendly report on the pros and cons of the USA PATRIOT Act with related readings and discussion questions.
- Curriculum guides for teachers of various grades.
- The New York Times offers a middle/high school lesson plan focusing on military tribunals and the USA PATRIOT Act.
- War, Terrorism, and America’s Classrooms, a special issue of Rethinking Schools, is available online and includes several articles on civil liberties and the USA PATRIOT Act. Also available from Rethinking Schools is Rethinking Our Classrooms, Vol. 2, a collection which includes "A New U.S. Bill of Rights" and other chapters on teaching about civil liberties.
- Conflict in Context: Understanding Local to Global Security is an inquiry-based high school curriculum that examines conflict and security in students’ own lives and communities and explores connections to public policy and decision-making at local, national, and global levels. It is produced and distributed by Educators for Social Responsibility.