American Lit: The Bill Of Rights

Standard: ELAGSE11-12RI9 analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preabmle to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.

Learning Target: I can compare how a common theme is expressed in different foundational historical documents of the United States.

Opening Session: Schoolhouse Rock – The Preamble

Work Session: Look around the room – you’ll notice little signs. Go to the sign that you think is MOST IMPORTANT! They say:

  • Freedom of Religion
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Right to Bear Arms
  • Freedom from illegal search and seizures,
  • Right to Jury Trial
  • Right to not have cruel and unusual punishment
  • Not having to share your house with soldiers when you’re not in a war

After you’re there, we can see what the class as a whole thinks – and we can defend our positions, if you want!

Let’s head back to our own desks and read the Preamble to the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Then, I have some discussion questions for you!

  • Should there be limitations on freedom of speech?
  • Which of these freedoms are taken away the most by authorities?
  • To what extent are we as individuals responsible to ensure that everyone has these freedoms?
  • If you had to take one of the amendments out of the Bill of Rights, which would you remove? What would you replace it with? Why?

Closing Session: Go back to the signs around the room. Based on our discussions, has anyone moved to a different spot? If so, why?

Assessment: Informal – class discussions

Differentiation: Interest (students can move around the room and choose their own topics to debate)

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