Author:
Melody Casey
Subject:
English Language Arts, Social Studies
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
Upper Primary
Grade:
5
Tags:
  • IRPSS
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Language:
    English

    Education Standards

    Constitutional Amendments and the "Common Good" (AIG IRP)

    Constitutional Amendments and the "Common Good" (AIG IRP)

    Overview

    In this lesson, students begin by discussing the meaning of “common good” and the impact of this concept on rights and responsibilities in the lives of US citizens. They then examine the Bill of Rights and other amendments to the US Constitution, focusing on how amendments over time have focused on the common good and have responded to current issues and problems. Finally, the students apply their understanding of common good and individual rights and responsibilities to the proposal of a new amendment to the US Constitution. This lesson was developed by NCDPI as part of the Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted Instructional Resources Project. This lesson plan has been vetted at the state level for standards alignment, AIG focus, and content accuracy.

    Lesson Overview

    Brief Description of Lesson/Task/Activity: In this lesson, students begin by discussing the meaning of “common good” and the impact of this concept on rights and responsibilities in the lives of US citizens. They then examine the Bill of Rights and other amendments to the US Constitution, focusing on how amendments over time have focused on the common good and have responded to current issues and problems. Finally, the students apply their understanding of common good and individual rights and responsibilities to the proposal of a new amendment to the US Constitution.

    Time Frame: 1 class period for introduction and discussion, 3-4 class periods for student research and performance task 

    Type of Differentiation for AIGs:

    • Extension

    Adaptations for AIGs:

    • Product

    Explanation of How Resource is Appropriate for AIGs: This task encourages AIG students to apply their understanding of a basic principle of US democracy (“common good”) to a current issue/problem. Along the way, they must summarize, analyze, and evaluate past amendments. The task performance, a RAFT, is multi-faceted and demands a high level of thinking and a great degree of independence. 

    Needed Resources/Materials:

    Stage 1: Engage

    Agree/disagree (Provide a sign for each word on opposite sides of the room. Students will move to the side of the room that matches their opinions.): The common good is more important than individual rights. Allow students to debate this statement for a few minutes. Discuss the meaning of “common good” as needed. Then, explain that the students will need to think about this debate as they study the Bill of Rights and other Constitutional Amendments. 

    In order to quickly review the time period in which the Founding Fathers worked, ask small groups of students (3-4 students per group) to create a Top-5 list of words/phrases to describe the time period and to be ready to explain the words/phrases they choose. These groups share their lists and explanations, and the whole group discusses similarities and differences among the lists. Pose the following questions:

    • How did the Founding Fathers address the “common good” in the US Constitution? 
    • Where do you see evidence that the Founding Fathers considered individual rights?
    • Were there any problems or issues present at the time that the Founding Fathers did not adequately address in the US Constitution?

    Stage 2: Elaborate

    Point out that some delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not agree with the final US Constitution because they didn’t think it responded to basic human rights. Thus, the Bill of Rights was created 2 years later.

    Given a copy of the Bill of Rights, the students work independently or in pairs (their choice) to read and summarize the document. As they finish (as an anchoring activity), give them a list of some of the other amendments (11-27) and a separate (and mixed up) list of the dates when they were ratified, and ask the students to match the amendments with their corresponding dates. This task requires the students to draw on prior knowledge of US history or to conduct quick research in order to determine which amendments likely passed in which years.

    Remind the students of their previous discussion about problems and issues not addressed in the Constitution. Ask the students to discuss how amendments over time addressed specific and current issues at the time and responded to citizens’ rights and/or responsibilities. Do some amendments address issues that the Founding Fathers did not? If so, how? This discussion should provide an opportunity to informally assess students’ understanding of the amendments and the times in which they were proposed and ratified. 

    Finally, ask students to work in small groups (3-4 students per group) to create a continuum that shows which amendments responded to the common good versus individual rights. They must select at least 12 amendments to include on their continuum and must discuss the justification for their placement of the amendments. Encourage students to make clear choices rather than place amendments in the middle of the continuum. 

         Common Good ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Individual Rights

    As students work in their groups to place items on this continuum, listen for the students’ abilities to analyze and evaluate a variety of amendments to determine whether or not students understand the objectives of the amendments as well as the issues they were addressing.

    In the whole group, pose the following types of questions:

    • Which amendments changed society the most when they were passed? Were these changes positive or negative? Why do you say so?
    • Which amendments have had the least impact on society over time? Why is that? How should we measure an amendment’s impact? By what standards?
    • Which amendments do you think were/have been most controversial? What factors might make an amendment controversial?

    Stage 3: Evaluate

    Present the following task performance prompt:

    You are a US senator representing the state of North Carolina. Your task is to propose a possible 28th amendment to the US Constitution to be ratified by your fellow senators. To complete your task, you must first identify a current problem or issue that has not been addressed previously in the Constitution OR that needs to be revisited. You will present your amendment to your fellow senators in the form of a short speech and multimedia presentation that includes pictures, statistics, and individual stories designed to persuade your fellow senators of the necessity of your amendment. Expect opinions that differ from your own! 

    Important steps to take:

    • Identify a current issue/problem that is not already addressed in the US Constitution or any amendments to it OR an issue/problem that you think is not adequately addressed.
    • Conduct research about your chosen issue/problem.
    • Write a short description of your chosen issue/problem, focusing on the history of it and why it is a problem today.
    • Collect data!
    • Create and practice your presentation.

    The successful product will:

    • Demonstrate understanding of democratic ideals and principles
    • Demonstrate understanding of how the US Constitution protects the rights and responsibilities of US citizens
    • Demonstrate understanding of the “common good”
    • Identify and clearly discuss (both verbally and in writing) a current issue
    • Inform and persuade through effective speaking and logical and clear use of data and visuals