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Constitutional Convention Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

With this lesson plan and a video lesson from Study.com, you'll have all that you need to thoroughly teach the Constitutional Convention. Engage students with an in-class activity, then further learning with extensions and related lessons.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson students will be able to do the following:

  • identify the problems that came with establishing the U.S. Constitution
  • analyze the positions held by various states
  • follow the evolution to the document that was finally approved

Length

45 minutes, plus additional time for extensions

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.5

Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.

Key Vocabulary

  • Constitutional Convention
  • New Jersey Plan
  • Virginia Plan
  • Three-fifths compromise
  • Great Compromise

Instructions

  • Ease students into the Constitutional Convention lesson by reviewing some basic concepts: the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation. Discuss the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and why a new document was needed.
  • Show the Study.com video The Constitutional Convention: The Great Compromise, and instruct students to take notes on the key vocabulary during the lesson:
  • Pause the video at the following points for discussion:
    • 2:22--Why do you think the states were so hesitant to rewrite the agreement that held them together? Do you think the selection of George Washington as a presiding officer helped calm those fears?
    • 4:27--Who benefited from the New Jersey Plan? What about the Virginia Plan? How do we see this in our legislature today? What about the three-fifths compromise--does this seem to be a good idea or just a way to prevent an argument until a later time?

Activity

  • Break your class into groups and have each group write a new Constitution. Tell students that the groups must have the consent of all present, just like the Constitution ultimately had to be approved by every state.
  • Afterward, have students present their new Constitutions and discuss the difficulties faced in writing a new Constitution.

Extensions

  • Encourage students to research the way that we view the Constitution today. Is it too weak or too controlling? What changes would help improve it?
  • Some countries have formal constitutions, while others (like the United Kingdom) don't have written constitutions. Ask students to look at how government forms in a country other than the United States.

Related Lessons

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