What About Our Rights Guaranteed Under the Constitution?
Anne T. Staiger of Candor Middle
What About Our Rights Guaranteed Under the Constitution?"
Lesson/Unit Title: What About Our Rights Guaranteed Under the
Grade Level: 8th/ Middle School
Instructor Name: Ann T. Staiger
Time Allocation: 3 Days
The primary purpose of this lesson was to engage students critical
thinking skills by
using primary documents to focus on how our governmental documents and
ideas do not always
guarantee the fair treatment of all individuals. The focus was on five
Native Americans, Japanese Americans, immigrants and African
This lesson followed a unit review of the Constitution, principles behind
vocabulary, and discussion of the Bill of Rights. We finished with a
short play about
Wisconsin v. Yoder (religious freedom) and some case studies of how the
Bill of Rights
applies in certain circumstances such as being arrested for shoplifting.
By the end of the
review, students are versed in their rights and what they consider to be
fair. This follow
up exercise is to delve into our social history a bit and see that certain
groups have had
to fight for rights that most of us take for granted. After the exercise
was done, I was
pleased to note that most students have a solid opinion that they are
willing to share
with the group and in the class. They are also able to denfend their
position upon follow
up questioning. At the end of this students were more fully appreciative
of how our
country has evolved socially and culturally over this time frame. I
believe in the end,
students did have a broader understanding of how we changed over time.
(Ref:Standard 5- key idea 1)
Passed out United Nations Universal Human Rights. Students were to read
principles and higlight which ones they could identify as corresponding to
Constitution and Amendments. Students then discussed their choices in a
The political cartoon about suffrage was then passed out and
Students were asked to list some American values which the teacher listed
on the board.
They were then presented with the 1965 list. We discussed those, many
which have to
do with fairness, equality, and freedoms.
Days 2 and 3
Students were assinged groups of three each(random selection). They were
given one of the
five packets and specific questions surrounding each of the documents.
They were each
responsible for writing down the answers on individual sheets, however, I
told them that
only one would be collected as a grade, therefore, it was important that
all students be
participating(It worked). We then rotated the groups so that each one had
a chance to
review each minority group.
The assessment was based on class discussion as well as the worksheets.
There was not test
planned as the real learning came from their opinions and discussion in
class and within
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights(1948)
- 1965 American Values Sheet(from Cornfield Publications- 1993)
- Political Cartoon on Suffrage (from NYS Historical Society Voter
- Focus on Five Minority Groups Document Sets(used primary sources
cartoons, pictures, lwas, and excerpts to show how our country has
Connections to NY State Standards
Standard 1 History of the United States and New York
Key idea 1: The study of New York State and United States history requires
an analysis of
the development of American culture, its diversity and multicultural
context, and the ways
people are unified by many values, practices, and traditions.
Key Idea 2: The state and federal governments established by the
Constitutions of the
United States and the State of New York embody basic civic values(such as
honesty, self-discipline, due process, equality, majority rule with
respect to minority
rights, and respect for self, others and property), principles, and
establish a system of shared and limited government.
Key Idea 3: Study about the major social, political, economic, cultural,
developments in New York State and United States History involves
learning about the
important roles and contributions of individuals and groups.
Standard 5 Civics, Citizenship, and Government
Key idea 1: The study of civics, citizenship, and government involves
political systems; the purpose of government and civic life; and the
held by people across time and place regarding power, authority,
governance, and law.
Key Idea 3: Central to civics and citizenship is an understanding of the
roles of the
citizen within American constitutional democracy and the scope of a
citizen's rights and
Overview of Lesson
Day 1 Documents