In this constitutional law lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 5-12, students use BrainPOP resources (including an online game) to explore constitutional law and citizen’s rights. Students will apply informational text skills as they learn to identify whether a constitutional right is being violated and match a given legal right to the constitutional amendment that protects it.
Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments
- Identify whether a constitutional right is being violated in a described legal dispute.
- Match a given legal right to the constitutional amendment that protects it.
- Plan strategically and sequence tasks during game play.
- Apply and practice informational text reading skills.
- Computers with internet access for BrainPOP
Preparation:Visit the iCivics website for more resources and information, including the game guide that this lesson plan has been adapted from.
- What are the rights of American citizens? Have students explore this question in a think-pair-share activity or reflect in a quick write. Have volunteers share their answers for you or a student to record for the class to see.
- Play the U.S. Constitution movie for the class and have students listen to find out how their rights are connected to the constitution.
- After the movie, ask students to revisit the list of rights they identified and talk about which rights are in fact protected by the constitution. You may want to add to the list or remove items during the discussion. Ask students to define 'amendments' and how the amendments in place have affected the rights of citizens.
- What can people do if they believe the government is violating a constitutional right? Guide students to understand that there are attorneys who specialize in one or more specific amendments and citizens can hire attorneys to take a case before a court.
- Explain that students will have a chance to explore rights through an online game that allows them to run a virtual law firm. You can display the Do I Have a Right? game, and walk students through the basics of game play if you think they will need additional support, or release students to explore the game on their own/with a partner if you'd like them to follow the directions and learn through trial and error.
- Provide at least 20 minutes for students to begin exploring the game. You may want to have students pause in their game play to talk about the strategies they're using.
- After students have had the chance to complete at least one trial, debrief on their game play experience. Ask: What was the goal of your law firm? Why can’t any attorney help any client? What is the purpose of amendments? What would happen if there were no amendments? What would happen if individual rights were not protected?
- As students spend more time with the game, challenge them to meet specific goals and earn Achievements during game play, such as Rain Maker (complete a game without losing a single case), Prestige Partner (help more than 25 clients discover their rights), or Fully Staffed (hire a team of six lawyers).
- Allow time for students to revisit the game throughout your unit of study on constitutional law or even throughout the school year and apply the new knowledge they have toward different cases. Students can also login and play the game at home or download the Pocket Law Firm app, which permits them to play the same game on the iPad.
Extension Activity:Be sure to check out the other iCivics games on GameUp and click on "Lesson Ideas" for any game to find ideas for incorporating it in your U.S. government instruction.
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