Congratulations! You survived the American Revolution and it’s time to move on to writing the United States Constitution. I thought I would share some resources that I have used over the years.
I like to begin my unit on the Constitution by asking students to read and analyze the Preamble in a variety of different ways. One way we look at the Preamble (I call it the thesis statement for the Constitution to show off my ELA prowess to students) is to do a group read-respond. I print out the preamble and tape it onto enough large pieces of butcher paper for the groups in my class. I use the powerpoint linked above to lead the students through four rounds of analysis. Students rotate their posters to other groups between rounds. Sometimes I add in more rounds by allowing students to continue commenting on others questions/suggestions if time permits. I’ve also created this Word document (preamble read respond). The first page has the preamble in large letters. I use this to tape onto posters for the read-respond. The second and third pages have individual analysis worksheets that asks students to restate the preamble. I like to show them the School House Rocks video for the preamble and pause it every couple of seconds to analyze the graphics. I’ve found that most students in my district memorized the preamble using this song in elementary school. However, there’s a lot to be gleaned from the visuals in the videos. The images help students figure out the meaning for the phrases.
These guided reading notes can be used in a variety of different ways. I originally created it to use as a book that students would “create” as we studied the constitution. I had them create a cover for the book and bring in string or ribbon for binding it. As I’ve adopted a journal based notes system in the past few years, I have used this as graphic organizers that we tape/paste into our journals instead. I’ll confess, this graphic organizer is not very exciting. It’s lacking in bling and pizazz. BUT – it’s a no-nonsense way to organize facts that students will need to know.
Some of you are basking in the glow of being assessed using new and improved standards. Others of us are still waiting for our state to adopt new standards (cough…cough…KY). Regardless of your state standards, kids need to be able to write about their learning! Extended responses (AKA: open responses, essay questions, and a plethora of other terms) are a great way to assess students ability to communicate their knowledge.