This lesson builds upon prior knowledge of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights by asking students to think critically about the issues and philosophies central to both. Through investigation and debate, students are asked to question why certain rights were added to the Constitution and why others were not. Such a discussion will encourage students to synthesize multiple historical and contemporary perspectives about their rights to decide if, in today’s world, we need different rights, if our rights are complete the way they are, or if the existing ones need change.
This lesson asks pairs of students to conduct a thorough investigation of a particular amendment proposed by Anti-Federalists during the Ratification period. Each pair will take on the role as a representative and champion of that amendment, with one student completing a full historical analysis of the amendment, while the other student analyzes its modern application. After their investigation, the entire class will take on a mock ratification debate, where each pair will present their amendment and argue for its inclusion into a new bill of rights. Students will attempt to persuade their peers that their amendment is essential and worthy of inclusion, using historical and contemporary sources to back their arguments. At the end of the mock ratification debate, students will vote on their new bill of rights to decide if all, or only some, of their proposed rights should be codified and adopted.
Grade Level: 9-12
Time: Two 50 minute class periods