The Constitution and the Bill of Rights

  • The Constitutional Convention
  • The Constitution: Structure of Government
  • Basic Constitutional Principles
  • The Bill of Rights
  • Interpreting the Bill of Rights
  • The Constitution as a Living Document

Common Core Standards

Reading Standards for Literacy in History/ Social Studies Grades 11-12
  • Standards: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9
Writing Standards for Literacy in History/ Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects Grades 11-12
  • Standards: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9

Suggested Student Objectives

  • Identify and understand the importance of key clauses in the Constitution
  • Define and illustrate basic principles of the U.S. Constitution, including federalism, separation of powers, and checks and balances.
  • Know the main provisions of the U.S. Bill of Rights
  • Understand that the Constitution is a living document that has changed over time


  • Complete the Thematic Essay from the August 2001 Regents Exam- Theme: The Constitution and Change- The United States Constitution not only provides a basic framework of government, but also allows for the flexibility to adapt to changes over time. Task: Identify two basic constitutional principles and discuss how each principle allows the government to adapt to changes in the United States. For each constitutional principle you discuss, describe a specific historical circumstance when the principle was used to meet the changing needs of American political, social or economic life. W-2,4
  • Research and report on one of the following events that tested our nation’s system of checks and balances. Historic events involving conflicts between the branches of government include: the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, the conflict over Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempt to add six seats to the Supreme Court, the Alien and Sedition Acts, Supreme Court cases such as Marbury v. Madison (1803), McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), and the Dred Scott Decision (1857), President Andrew Jackson’s conflict with Congress over the Second National Bank, and the Watergate incident. W-2, 4, 5
  • Using the letters between Madison and Jefferson, prepare a response to the following: Was the Bill of Rights necessary to fulfill the goals of the American Revolution? R-6, W-1

Resource Links

Brain Pop (log in required) videos U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, James Madison, Branches of Government
C-Span Classroom Site provides video clips on a variety of topics relating to U.S. government
Gale U.S. History in Context (log in required) database of reference materials, primary sources, media clips, etc.
Centuries of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline from the National Constitution Center (Broadband version)
Interactive Constitution from the National Constitution Center

Suggested Additional Readings


Unit 1 Quarterly Exam

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