Lesson Plan: Constitution Hall of Fame Context of the unit

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Curricula for K-12 Civics Education

Lesson Plan: Constitution Hall of Fame

Context of the unit: This unit is designed to focus on the history social science standards in 5.7.1 - 5.7. These focus on the constitution as the basis for our American republic. The students will learn how the United States Constitution came to be written and how it defines the national government. Students have learned the steps involved in the creation of “tableau” in previous studies.

Context of the lesson: This lesson would be the conclusion of the unit. Students will have covered the Declaration of Independence and the end of the Revolutionary War and a review of how the new nation would organize government, which included writing state constitutions. This lesson is designed to integrate what the students have learned concerning the Articles of Confederation, The Constitutional Convention, The three branches of government and the approval of the Bill of Rights. Specifically, this lesson focuses on the standards by examining how the Constitution became the foundation of the government of the United States. They will also learn the key democratic principles in the Constitution.

Standards Addressed:

Grade Five

History-Social Science Content Standards

Students describe the people and events associated with the development of the U.S. Constitution and analyze the Constitution’s significance as the foundation of the American republic.

1. List the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation as set forth by their critics.

2. Explain the significance of the new Constitution of 1787, including the struggles over its ratification and the reasons for the addition of the Bill of Rights.

3. Understand the fundamental principles of American constitutional democracy, including how the government derives its power from the people and the primacy of individual liberty.

4. Understand how the Constitution is designed to secure our liberty by both empowering and limiting central government and compare the powers granted to citizens, Congress, the president, and the Supreme Court with those reserved to the states.

English Language Arts Content Standards

Comprehension and Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text

2.3 Discern main ideas and concepts presented in texts, identifying and assessing evidence that supports those ideas.

2.4 Draw inferences, conclusions, or generalizations about text and support them with textual evidence and prior knowledge

1.0 Writing Strategies

1.2 Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions: a. Establish a topic, important ideas, or events in sequence or chronological order. b. Provide details and transitional expressions that link one paragraph to another in a clear line of thought. c. Offer a concluding paragraph that summarizes important ideas and details.

Research and Technology

1.3 Use organizational features of printed text (e.g., citations, end notes, bibliographic references) to locate relevant information.

1.4 Create simple documents by using electronic media and employing organizational features (e.g., passwords, entry and pull-down menus, word searches, a thesaurus, spell checks).

2.3 Write research reports about important ideas, issues, or events by using the following guidelines: a. Frame questions that direct the investigation. b. Establish a controlling idea or topic. c. Develop the topic with simple facts, details, examples, and explanations.

1.0 Listening and Speaking Strategies

Organization and Delivery of Oral Communication

1.4 Select a focus, organizational structure, and point of view for an oral presentation.

1.5 Clarify and support spoken ideas with evidence and examples.

1.6 Engage the audience with appropriate verbal cues, facial expressions, and gestures.

2.0 Speaking Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)

2.2 Deliver informative presentations about an important idea, issue, or event by the follow-ing means: a. Frame questions to direct the investigation. b. Establish a controlling idea or topic. c. Develop the topic with simple facts, details, examples, and explanations.

2.3 Deliver oral responses to literature:

a. Summarize significant events and details.

b. Articulate an understanding of several ideas or images communicated by the literary work.

c. Use examples or textual evidence from the work to support conclusions

Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards

2.2 Demonstrate the use of blocking (stage areas, levels, and actor's position, such as full front, quarter, profile, and full back) in dramatizations.

3.1 Select or create appropriate props, sets, and costumes for a cultural celebration or pageant

Connections and Applications

5.1 Use theatrical skills to dramatize events and concepts from other curriculum areas, such as reenacting the signing of the Declaration of Independence in history social science.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.*

Common Core State Standards for ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects K-5

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading K-5

Key Ideas and Details

  1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

  1. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

  1. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure

  1. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Objective (s):

Students will be able to describe the events that led to the creation of the Constitution. Students will be able to list the key powers held by the three branches of government. The students will be able to explain how the system of checks and balances in the Constitution prevents any one branch of government from becoming too powerful.

Students will explain the key rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

Students will interpret tableaux-vivants (living scenes) that represent the writers and the key amendments in the Bill of Rights.

Lesson Plan: Constitution Hall of Fame

Big Idea (s):

The political process involves participation; understanding requires student engagement.

The strength of a democracy is equal to the strength of its citizens. (We must understand, participate in, and further develop our system of government to ensure democracy).

E Pluribus Unum: out of many, one. (From a variety of sources and experiences, we have developed a successful government and legal system).

Essential Questions/Issues:

How is the Constitution a living document?

Is citizenship a right or a responsibility?

Higher Order Thinking Questions:

What were the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation and why did some leaders want to change the articles? (Evaluation)

Why do you think the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written? (Evaluation)

What kind of person wrote the Constitution and the Bill Of Rights? (Analysis, Evaluation)

Did the Constitution create a stronger central government? Explain (Evaluation)

How are the Constitution and The Bill of Rights living documents? (Analysis)

Lesson Plan: Constitution Hall of Fame


Students will be evaluated through informal checks for understanding, teacher observation, self-reflections, and performing an authentic task (GRASP) evaluated by a rubric. (See rubric and GRASP)

GRASP: Your Mission


Your task is to plan and create a Hall of Fame that honors the constitution and the people who wrote it, events and ideas that were important in history.


You will take on the character of a constitutional writer in the year 1787-1791 and “tableau” a part of the Bill of Rights with a team.


Curators at the Constitutional Hall of Fame will observe your tableau for 30 seconds, consult their notes and formulate their perceptions about which amendment the tableau represents, and how accurately. Tableau members will unfreeze and present a 30 second -1 minute biography of their constitutional character.


The Articles of Confederation limited the power of the national government, which depended on states for money, law enforcement, and soldiers. Twelve states sent delegates to the Constitutional Convention and after 4 months of debates and compromise, they strengthened the federal system. The new government chose George Washington as President. Many people attend the Constitutional Hall of Fame, and curators want a “living” representation that will help inform the public about the Bill of Rights.


To deepen the understanding of the populace regarding the struggle to ratify the Constitution, and how this was resolved ~ the promise to add a Bill of Rights.

Quality Criteria: Teacher/Peer Scoring Guide/Rubric

Level of Understanding demonstrated

4 –


3 –


2 –

Approaching Proficiency

1 –


Based on their paper and performance, students demonstrate understanding.

Strongly demonstrates a thorough understanding of their character and the constitution.

Uses many creative formats to present information.

Have very few factual errors.

Project is well planned, organized, and all parts completed

Demonstrates most of the understanding of their character and the constitution.

Uses some creative formats to present information

Have few factual errors.

Project is planned, organized and almost complete (85%)

Demonstrates some of the most important understandings of their character and the constitution.

Uses few creative formats to present information

Has some factual errors

Project is planned, organized but lacks completion. (70%)

Demonstrates few of the most important understandings of their character and the constitution.

Does not use creative formats to present information

Has many factual errors

Project is not planned, incomplete, and unorganized.

(69% and below)

Lesson Plan: Constitution Hall of Fame

Lesson Activity Steps: This lesson should be completed over a 2-week period per teacher discretion and student need.




Hook Engage students

5 minutes

“Have you ever made up rules for a game and then found when playing, that the rules did not work well.

What kinds of problems did you have and what did you do to fix the problems

Did players disagree about how to fix or change the rules?

How were disagreements settled?

Attend to a formal introduction.

Take notes as needed


Review Articles of Confederation

80 minutes

Review the Articles of Confederation.

Discuss the shortcomings of the Articles.

Discuss the Annapolis Convention and Shays’s Rebellion.

Discus the Constitutional Convention and the Participants

Discuss the Debates and the Compromises at the Convention

Discuss the purpose of the Constitution as stated in the Preamble

Compare the powers and functions of three branches of government

Discuss the struggle to get the Bill of Rights approved and explain the key rights that were guaranteed in the Bill of Rights

Take notes as needed.

Students use history/social science text and/or other documents provided on the Articles and the Conventions, check and correct as a class for understanding


60 minutes

History Alive


Constitution Hall of


1- 2 weeks class time

Simulation of Constitutional situations that require action by branch (es)

Apply knowledge about the Bill of Rights to a shield that depicts a few illustrations of these rights

Create a Hall of Fame that honors the constitution, the people and the events and ideas that were important to history.

Student teams will use constitutional power cards that decide governmental actions. Some situations will require the students to place the power cards in a proper sequence that the government would act.

Student teams will complete the shield and discuss as a team and then as a class for clear understanding.

Students will:

1 page biography of constitutional writer

1 minute oral presentation of their character highlights

Come in Costume with props as needed and complete self reflection

Teams will:

Create Tableaus of an amendment in the Bill of Rights and perform in front of class

Reflect on the group process


Next steps include:

Lessons discussing a Constitutional democracy

Next steps include:

Compare the powers granted to citizens, to the three branches of the federal government and to the states

Special Needs of students are considered in this lesson: Students are put into flexible grouping scenarios that will benefit learning for all types of learners and special needs. Hands-on learning with plenty of opportunities for movement, verbal, written, and nonverbal expression, and multiple learning modalities are available within the context of this lesson.

Extension Ideas:

This lesson may be repeated with different amendments and or articles from the constitution. Students may want to investigate current events that could lead to amendments. Film the tableau’s and use music, (after practicing with the technology and guidance with the use of music and props). Skits could be performed in the place of tableau with structure provided.

Lesson Plan: Constitution Hall of Fame

Materials and Resources Needed:

History Social Science text, Internet access, wipe boards, project planner, additional classroom resources, paper, costumes, and props.


We The Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, David Catrow

A Kids’ Guide to America’s Bill of Rights, Kathleen Krull

Shh! We're Writing the Constitution, Jean Fritz

. . .If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution , Elizabeth Levy

A More Perfect Union,The Story of Our Constitution, Betsy Maestro


DVD: Founding of our Federal Government


Lesson Plan: Constitution Hall of Fame

Constitutional Hall of Fame 2008 (Two Parts)

Part One:
Decide from the list below who you would like to impersonate for your living tableau biography. Every person must choose someone different. The first person to choose an individual will portray that individual. The teacher will settle duplicate submissions.

The Signers of the U. S. Constitution

New Hampshire

John Langdon

Nicholas Gilman


Rufus King

Nathaniel Gorham


Roger Sherman

William Samuel Johnson

New York

Alexander Hamilton

New Jersey

William Livingston

David Brearley

William Paterson

Jonathan Dayton


Benjamin Franklin

Thomas Mifflin

Robert Morris

George Clymer

Thomas FitzSimons

Jared Ingersoll

Gouverneur Morris

James Wilson


George Read

Gunning Bedford, Jr.

John Dickinson

Richard Bassett

Jacob Broom


James McHenry

Daniel Carroll

Dan of St. Thomas Jenifer


John Blair

James Madison, Jr.

George Washington

 North Carolina

William Blount

Richard Dobbs Spaight

Hugh Williamson

South Carolina

John Rutledge

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Charles Pinckney

Pierce Butler


William Few

Abraham Baldwin

Create a one page biography about your signer of the constitution. The paper must include a bibliography with sources used in your paper.

Study the art, timelines and the events that make your character related to constitutional times and design a costume for your character. You may use classroom materials and your peers to help assemble your costume.

Constitutional Hall of Fame 2008 (Two Parts)

Part Two:

A picture is worth a thousand words! A visual representation can express many ideas without using words. Living pictures or scenes are often used in performing arts to make an idea come alive. In theater, such living scenes are called tableau vivants.

You will form a partnership of 2-3 students that will help you complete part two of this project.

Your partnership will select one amendment from the bill of rights or one article from the constitution.

You will notify the teacher if your selection. If selections are submitted at the same time, the teacher will decide who presents the selection.

You should not disclose to the other groups what you have selected.

Follow these steps below to create a living scene.

Step 1: Brainstorm your ideas for your tableau. Review information about your chosen topic from the book and other sources you can gather.

Step 2: Collect or create simple props. Find or create simple props that you can use in your tableau to represent the amendment or article.

Step 3: prepare to explain parts of your tableau. You will present your tableau to the class. Remember that you will take silent poses during the presentation. Afterward, each group member will come to life, one at a time and explain the part of the scene he or she represented. Each person in the group should practice ahead of time, explaining his or her part of the scene.

Step 4: Practice presenting your tableau. Gather all your props, and practice your poses for the tableau. Make sure your group can clearly explain how your tableau represents the ideas in your amendment or article.

CVCS-Lesson-Malaret-all-docx 04/16/2012
This curriculum does not necessarily reflect the views of the Judicial Council, the AOC, or the Court Programs and Services Division/CPAS.  Furthermore, the authors, the Judicial Council, the AOC, and the Court Programs and Services Division/CPAS do not provide any warranties regarding the currency or accuracy of the information in these works. Users are reminded to check the subsequent history of any case and changes to statutes and Rules of Court cited in the works before relying on them. These works are provided for the personal noncommercial use of teachers and may not be used for any other purpose without the written permission of the authors.

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