D.C. Circuit Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell discusses the Bill of Rights guarantees to a group of new citizens at a Bill of Rights Day ceremony at the National Archives.
The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, adopted through ratification, are collectively referred to as the Bill of Rights. As the first nine outline fundamental guarantees to the citizenry and the tenth reserves some governmental powers to the state governments, the Bill of Rights establishes limitations on the scope of the federal government. In this lesson, students will explore the history of the Bill of Rights and the meaning of the amendments included in the document through videos and activities.
In this lesson, students have choices as they explore the amendments in the Bill of Rights. They will use the Choice Board to complete the introductory activity, select amendments to examine and complete a final activity.
Save a copy of the Choice Board below before sharing it with students. It contains slides with links to C-SPAN videos discussing the particular amendment, drag and drop vocabulary activities with terms in the videos and accompanying questions. You may assign it to each student individually using Google Classroom, Schoology or another classroom platform.
Bill of Rights Choice Board (Google Slides)
Ask students to complete the introductory slide on their choice board by clicking the yellow star on the first slide.
First, have them complete the vocabulary activity:
Bill of Rights Vocabulary Activity (Google Slide)
Then, view the following video clips that provide an overview of the Bill of Rights. This can be done with the whole class in-person, through a shared video platform or students can view it individually on their own devices. Have them respond to the accompanying questions on the slide. You can engage in discussion to discuss answers.
VIDEO CLIPS: The Bill of Rights (2 Clips)
What are some of the guarantees enshrined within the Bill of Rights?
How did Chief Judge Howell link the Bill of Rights guarantees to the Declaration of Independence?
Students will then choose two amendments that are listed on the board. They will click on the numbered links in the first slide to be taken to that related amendment.
Each topic includes a link to C-SPAN’s Constitution Clips website, that is associated with that amendment. Students will complete the vocabulary activity, watch the video clips and answer the accompanying questions.
After they have completed an amendment, they will place a scroll on the yellow window that relates to that amendment on the first slide.
Below are links to the information that is contained on each slide in the Choice Board. We have listed them here as an option for you to access them.
1st Amendment Links and Questions:
"Establishment of religion" (6 Video Clips)
"Free exercise" (3 Video Clips)
"Freedom of Speech" (7 Video Clips)
"Freedom of Press" (7 Video Clips)
"Peaceably to assemble" (3 Video Clips)
"Petition the Government" (2 Video Clips)
What are the five freedoms that are listed in the 1st Amendment?
Explain the significance of each freedom.
2nd Amendment Links and Questions:
Explain the origin of the 2nd Amendment.
Based on the information presented in the videos, describe the various perspectives regarding the 2nd Amendment and firearms.
3rd Amendment Links and Questions:
"Quartered in any house" (3 Video Clips)
Explain the significance of this amendment as John Bonsell describes how it relates to the military's role in disaster relief and the federal and state governments.
Explain the origin of the 3rd Amendment as Caroline Kennedy and Sen. Lee discuss.
4th Amendment Links and Questions:
Explain the origin of the 4th Amendment.
Explain the exclusionary rule.
Describe the parameters involved with instances of search and seizure and stop and frisk procedures.
5th Amendment Links and Questions:
"Indictment of a Grand Jury" (4 Video Clips)
"twice put in jeopardy" (3 Video Clips)
"Witness against himself" (3 Video Clips)
"Due Process of law" (4 Video Clips)
Explain the difference between a trial jury and a grand jury.
What is the process of collecting and presenting evidence in a grand jury?
Explain the concept of double jeopardy and how it relates to state and federal crimes.
6th Amendment Links and Questions:
"A speedy and public trial" (3 Clips)
"An impartial jury (3 Video Clips)
"Assistance of Counsel" (4 Video Clips)
Explain the origin of the 6th Amendment.
Explain the meanings of the following terms: speedy and public trial, impartial jury, right to counsel
8th Amendment Links and Questions:
"Cruel and unusual punishments" (4 Video Clips)
Explain the difference between originalism and a living Constitution as Justice Scalia discusses.
Describe the arguments regarding the definition of cruel as it relates to the Constitution that Justices Breyer and Scalia discuss.
Explain Justice Stevens' position on the death penalty and the 8th Amendment.
9th Amendment Links and Questions:
Explain the initial debate over the idea of creating the Bill of Rights
10th Amendment Links and Questions:
Explain the origin and meaning of the 10th Amendment as Roger Pilon and Louis Seidman discuss.
Explain the concept of federalism as Justice Kavanaugh discusses.
Have students submit their completed Google Slides by sending the URL with the completed slides to you electronically.
Review student responses and address any misconceptions.
Ask students to consider their notes and the information from the videos as they complete the activity below to apply what they have learned about a specific amendment.
Current Event List: Brainstorm a list of issues that are being discussed in the U.S. today. What topics interest or impact you, your community? From your list, select an issue and consider how it applies to one of the amendments you researched.
Activity: Describe the issue that is being debated, citing specific examples and different perspectives from different people. Explain how it relates to your chosen amendment. Then, explain your position on the issue and what actions you may take to change or preserve it. You can present your research in a written format, through a video or debate it with a partner presenting opposing views.