In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-12, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the powers of government set forth in the Constitution and the fundamental liberties ensured by the Bill of Rights. Students then use interactive online game play to explore how rights guaranteed by Constitutional amendments can be interpreted differently by different people.
Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments
- Explain the powers of government set forth in the Constitution and the fundamental liberties ensured by the Bill of Rights.
- Explore how rights guaranteed by Constitutional amendments can be interpreted differently by different people.
- Research and share information about a selected case and decision.
- Class set of photocopies of the Graphic Organizer
- Computers with Internet access
- LCD projector and/or interactive whiteboard
Preparation:This lesson includes the use of Supreme Decision, a game that combines animation and interactive activities to give students a peek into the inner workings of the Supreme Court. Students play a law clerk who must listen in on judges’ deliberations, understand each issue, and identify which side of the issue they agree with. Download the iCivics Teacher's Guide to Using Supreme Decision in the Classroom for more information about how the game works (including scoring) and how it can fit into your existing curriculum.
- Ask students if they have ever heard the phrase "I plead the fifth!" or "This violates my first amendment rights!" What do these statements mean? Facilitate a brief discussion, helping students utilize key vocabulary terms related to the Bill of Rights.
- Pass out the Graphic Organizer to students. Give them several minutes to talk in pairs about what they know about Constitutional Amendments. Encourage students to jot down their ideas.
- Play the Bill of Rights movie for the class with the closed captioning on and instruct students to listen for more information about the Bill of Rights. Then play the movie through a second time, pausing throughout to facilitate discussion and to allow students to write down more information on their graphic organizers.
- Tell the class that they will have an opportunity to explore how the Bill of Rights works in a court room through the game Supreme Decision. Pair students up and provide at least 20 minutes for game play.
- Bring students back to a whole-class discussion. What things did they learn about how Supreme Court decisions are made? How do precedent cases affect the way judges decide? How can the same right be interpreted in opposite ways by different people?
- Encourage students to select one of the following two topics that are addressed in the game: Should cultural speech get as much protection as political speech? or Are limits on student speech good or bad for education? Explore students' chosen topic in depth together. You may want to have students write about their opinions, research related cases and decisions, and/or act out a Supreme Court case on this topic in the classroom.
Extension Activity:You can find more lesson ideas for this game (including student handouts) on the iCivics site.
Be sure to check out the other Social Studies Games featured in GameUp. Some examples include Law Craft (in which students pick an issue that is important to them and constituents and take it all the way through the law-making process), Executive Command (in which students play the role of the president for a full term and explore veto power), and Branches of Power (which allows students to control all three branches of government).
BrainPOP Movies:Bill of Rights (Activity Page Answer Key)
Supreme Court (Activity Page Answer Key)
Trials (Activity Page Answer Key)
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