Constitutional Issues



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High School
Step-by-Step Alignment – High School “Constitutional Issues” & We The People

You will develop a reasoned position on a constitutional issue by:

The We the People… text book and program:

  • Supporting the reasons for the position with accurate evidence

  • Students in the We the People…begin their experience through a series of small group critical thinking exercises which ask them to take positions, analyze their positions and perhaps change their position based on discussion with peers and historical evidence presented. (See page x Analyzing the Pledge of Allegiance)

  • Making a connection between the issue and a democratic ideal or constitutional principle

  • “What do you think?’ questions are a regular part of each We the People…lesson. These questions require students to evaluate historical and current issues using constitutional principals and democratic ideals. (See page 6 What do you think)

  • Evaluating multiple points of view

  • One major benefit to the We the People…textbook and Congressional Hearing program is that students are encouraged to engage in discussions with their peers, evaluating decisions based on constitutional principles. (See page 108 Critical Thinking exercise)

  • Two Units of the We the People…textbook address the issue of the expansion of individual rights through the application of constitutional principles and democratic principles. These units provide numerous court cases for the students’ exploration and analysis. (See “What were the consequences of Plessy v. Ferguson?” Page 134 and “What was the significance of Brown v. Board of Education?” Page 135)

  • A major basis of the We the People…program and textbook is encouraging students to balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the common good. Towards this end, the entire sixth unit of the text asks student to apply the principles learned to current day issues and assess the responsibilities of citizens. (See How Do We Use Our Citizenship? Lesson 36 pages 195 – 199)

The attached sheets outline how the We the People…and it’s culminating Congressional Hearing program allows for teachers and students to effectively meet the Student Checklists associated with the CBA’s insuring long-term learning and civic engagement.


The Congressional Hearing is an essential element of the We the People… program because of the high level of learning which takes place during the hearing preparation. Student learning will be enhanced through the complete application of this process as outlined in the attached documents.
High School “Constitutional Issues” Student Checklist:

Components of Student Checklist

Commentary on how the We the People... program helps students meet the CBA Checklist

Essential Question:


The We the People… hearing questions offers 18 essential questions for students to demonstrate their understanding of public issues. For example, unit two questions one how is the constitution designed to limit governments’ power in order to protect individual rights? Students would pick an issue that shows governments limitation.

Key Concepts/Vocabulary:


For the purposes of the We the People… program, these are the key concepts and vocabulary necessary to address the essential questions. Teachers and students will find the We the People… program addresses all the Concepts and Vocabulary mentioned in the Student Checklists.

Inquiry:

For the purposes of the We the People… program, the Inquiry section of the student checklist addresses the research needed to answer the essential question.
Many We the People… teachers find it effective to parallel inquiry with group forums. The We the People… textbook includes many of the foundational documents, court cases and policies explored in the essential questions. In the process of preparing for the presentations, students are required to look at multiple perspective within the lessons such as “What do you think?” (GIVE EXAMPLE FROM TEXT)
The We the People… text allows students to embrace issues from multiple historical time periods including current day application. Students are encouraged to create their own reasoned answers to a number of questions. (GIVE EXAMPLE FROM TEXT)

Reading for Information:


We the People… materials are formatted with reading strategies in mind, as such headings are phrased as questions, vocabulary terms are bolded and each lesson includes a purpose at the start of the reading.

Group Forum:


We the People… offers numerous opportunities for students to share information, findings, and concepts. Through such activities as “What do you think?”, critical thinking and other extensions. This enables students to refine their ideas and deepen their understanding as they rewrite their presentation paper.
The teaching materials describe several effective forums such as debates, pro se court, and town hall meetings.

Position:


For the purpose of the We the People… program this is a paper written for the presentation. The students work individually to develop and refine their position in a written format. Next, in collaborative groups, students develop a four minute presentation addressing the essential questions incorporating the issues explored by each individual.

Presentation:


In the We the People… program, students present their position paper in a Congressional Hearing. The pinnacle of the We the People… process is the mock congressional hearing this simulates students testifying to a congressional panel about an issue or concept. Students in teams present the four minute prepared presentation response and then fields in-depth questions for six minutes. These follow-up questions, which probe for further understanding, allow the teacher to have students discuss current applications of constitutional principals and ideals.



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For We the People…materials and teacher training opportunities:



Contact Kathy Hand 206-248-3463; www.civiced-wa.org.


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