Patriot Act Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde
This lesson plan will help you teach your students the main components of the Patriot Act. Your class can explore some pros and cons of the Patriot Act, then you can follow up with a high-level thinking activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • name main components of the Patriot Act
  • list pros and cons of the Patriot Act
  • debate the Patriot Act's constitutionality


45 minutes to 1 hour


  • Copies of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution
  • Highlighters

Key Vocabulary

  • Patriot Act
  • Legislation
  • Terrorism
  • Roving wiretap

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.9

Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington's Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech, King's 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'), including how they address related themes and concepts.


  • Ask students if they think it would be okay for the government to listen to their phone conversations or track their online usage if doing so kept Americans safe. Allow students to write a brief response, then discuss.
  • Share our lesson What Is the Patriot Act? - Definition, Summary, Pros & Cons. Print copies for students, or share electronically.
  • Pause after reading the 'Definition' section. Discuss the events of September 11, 2001, and make sure students understand the importance and impact of that event.
  • Ask students to read the next section, 'Summary,' silently, highlighting key points. Share as a class, listing these points on the board or chart paper. Have students record them in notebooks.
  • Before completing the reading, ask students to predict the pros and cons of the Patriot Act.
  • Read the remainder of the lesson.
  • Discuss:
    • Were the students' predictions correct?
    • What is meant by 'maintain and protect national security?'
    • Is there really such as thing as 'secure?' Explain.
    • How much can and should a government do to keep citizens secure?


  • Allow students to work in partner pairings or individually, depending on your class needs.
  • Hand out copies of the Fourth Amendment. Ask students to read, highlighting key terms and phrases as they go.
  • Next, students should compare the Fourth Amendment to the Patriot Act and answer the question, 'Is the Patriot Act constitutional?'
  • Students should write a brief essay defending their opinions using text evidence. Have students share with the class and discuss.


  • Research lawsuits brought against the Patriot Act.
  • Have a fishbowl debate on the Patriot Act.
  • Have students read stories of victims of September 11, 2001. Does knowing personal stories change opinions. Why or why not?

Related Lessons

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Filtered by: {{}}   {{}}   {{}}   Clear All Filters
Courses: {{}}