Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.
At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Define Bill of Rights
- Explain each of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution
- 75-90 minutes
- can be broken down into multiple days, if needed
- A copy of the Bill of Rights for each student
- A pre-written document with simple explanations for each of the amendments in the Bill of Rights for each student
- A white wig like those worn in the 1700s (optional)
- Index cards (white and lined on one side is recommended)
Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
As you work through the lesson, wear the white wig representative of the time period during which the Bill of Rights was written (this is optional, of course).
Begin by previewing the Bill of Rights. Explain that:
- The Bill of Rights contains the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
- The Bill of Rights was written by James Madison.
- Its purpose was to cover additional rights that citizens felt were needed but not included in the Constitution.
- Another purpose was to place limits on the power of the government.
- Be sure to explain potentially new vocabulary words or phrases, such as:
- power of the government
Next, hand each student a copy of the Bill of Rights. Read each of the amendments one at a time. As you read, stop to explain each one.
- Amendment I protects people's right to practice any religion they choose or not to practice any religion at all. It also allows them to meet together. This amendment also allows the people to speak freely and to communicate with the government if needed.
- Explain words such as practice, speak freely, and communicate.
- Amendment II gives people the right to own guns.
- Amendment III says that the army cannot force people to house or feed soldiers.
- Explain what it means to house and feed soldiers
- Amendment IV says that the government cannot take things from people, including property or the people themselves, without a warrant or probable cause.
- Explain warrant and probable cause.
- Amendment V says that the government cannot hold people for committing a crime without formally accusing them. It also protects against double jeopardy. Lastly, it keeps people from having to testify against themselves.
- Explain formally accusing, double jeopardy, and testify.
- Amendment VI guarantees people a quick trial if arrested for a crime. It also guarantees a fair jury and that a person is allowed to confront witnesses against them. Lastly, it guarantees that all people being tried for a crime are allowed to have a lawyer.
- Explain guarantee, trial, fair jury, confront witnesses, lawyer.
- Amendment VII guarantees a jury trial even in civil cases (non-criminal).
- Amendment VIII says that punishments given by the court cannot be unfair or cruel.
- Amendment IX simply says that there are other rights that people have that may not be included in the Bill of Rights.
- Amendment X says that any power not specifically given to the federal government should be given to the states or to the people themselves.
- Explain federal government and what it means for powers to be given to the states.
Hand each student a second document with explanations for each of the amendments (just as you've already explained to the class).
Finally, allow time for discussion. Answer any student questions and offer further clarification if needed.
Use the following activity to reinforce the meaning behind each of the amendments in the Bill of Rights.
- Break students up into groups or 2-4. If the class is mixed ESL and general education, try to form heterogeneous groups so that your ESL learners are in groups with general education students.
- Assign each group one of the amendments (it is possible that not all ten will be assigned and that is okay - choose the ones you feel are most relevant)
- Explain that each group is to create a poster describing their assigned amendment. The poster should:
- Identify the amendment number
- State the amendment as written in the Bill of Rights
- State an explanation of that amendment
- Contain a picture or drawing appropriate to that amendment
- Be sure to assist each of the groups as they work. Explain any vocabulary they may struggle with and answer questions if they have any.
- Allow 20-30 minutes for each of the groups to work on their posters.
- Once the groups are finished working, give them class time to present.
- Hang the posters around the room or on a classroom bulletin board as reminders about the Bill of Rights and their meanings.
To further reinforce the meaning of the Bill of Rights on an individual basis, have students create flashcards.
- Give each student 10 index cards (white and lined on one side is recommended).
- On one side of each index card, have students write the amendments as they appear in the Bill of Rights.
- On the back side of each card, have students write the explanation for each of the amendments (as they appear on the document you have given them).
- Allow students to decorate their cards if desired.
To extend this lesson, consider the following:
- Pair students up and have them work together using the flashcards created in the lesson. They might quiz one another or form some type of match game for practicing their knowledge of the Bill of Rights.
- Place students in groups. Have students dress in time period costumes (late 1700s) and practice reading the Bill of Rights aloud in their groups. Also, have them explain each amendment as it is read.
- Locate a video or related lesson to further explain or review each of the first ten amendments.
- Place students in groups and allow each group to think of another possible amendment (or a right that they would like to see added to the Bill of Rights). In time period costumes (late 1700s), have each group present their ideas to the class.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack
Resources created by teachers for teachers
I would definitely recommend Study.com to my colleagues. It’s like a teacher waved a magic wand and did the work for me. I feel like it’s a lifeline.