This post is by Colleen Smith, the newest member of the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog team.
As Constitution Day approaches, here is a collection of resources organized according to how deeply you want to immerse your students in a study of the Constitution: skim, swim, or dive.
Limited on time and looking for quick tips on teaching about the Constitution? Dip your toe into these blog posts from Teaching with the Library.
- Origin and Evolution of the Bill of Rights Explore how the Bill of Rights came to be and the compromises that were made. In addition to the suggested teaching ideas, share this with students to spark a greater discussion about the role of compromise in a representative democracy.
- Celebrating Constitution Day Teachers and their students are invited to think about how Americans celebrated Constitution Day. Depending on time constraints, search Chronicling America to find articles, perhaps at other milestone anniversaries, and see how celebrations of and discourse about the Constitution have changed over time.
- Constitution and Citizenship Day This blog offers some background on Citizenship Day and how it became a day of honoring new citizens and the Constitution.
- Preamble to the Constitution Practice critical thinking skills such as inference-building with two classroom-ready activities using different drafts of the preamble to the Constitution.
- Father of the Constitution Learn about the contributions of James Madison, known to many as the “Father of the Constitution.”
Want to go deeper? Jump into the Constitution Primary Source Set. Included in the set are eighteen primary sources and a teacher’s guide with background information and teaching ideas. A thread that connects the teaching ideas is that the adoption of the Constitution was not a foregone conclusion. This source set also allows students a glimpse into ideas as they were understood at the time and the uncertainty that permeated debates about the Constitution. You might use this set and the resources included to help students recognize the value and necessity of civic engagement in a representative democracy.
For those looking for extensive resources for teaching and learning about the Constitution, explore these robust guides and essays. You’ll find scholarly analysis and opportunities for a deep dive into the Constitution, its precursors, and related primary documents.
- Changes to Century of Lawmaking and Congress.gov Guidance on finding historic or current information on the activities of Congress.
- Primary Documents about the Constitution A go-to for quick access to digital collections and primary sources at the Library, external websites, and print materials related to the Constitution.
- Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention Explore the journals of the Continental Congress, Letters to Delegates to Congress, Elliot’s Debates, and Farrand’s Records, which include the Records of the Federal Convention of 1787.
- Guide on the Articles of Confederation This guide gives teachers and students a helpful introduction to the Articles of Confederation, the first “constitution” of the United States, easy access the Articles themselves, associated digital collections, and related online resources.
How will you use these and other resources to help students learn about the Constitution? Let us know in the comments.
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