To understand the Six Big Ideas which underpin the Constitution students need to be familiar with the text itself. Constitution are the foundation of our nation and establish the federal government's structures and branches.
Mapping the text of the Constitution presents the national charter in a way that illustrates the attention the Founders gave to the structure and power of government. By counting the words in each article and calculating the percentage of the whole it represents, students can determine how much of the overall project was dedicated to each structure or power.
Example: Separation of Powers-Article II, Section 2, clause 2 says that the Executive "shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur." This means that two branches, the President and Congress (the Senate), have to agree before a treaty goes into effect.
Students will apply their understanding of the Big Ideas gained in Step 3 to actual documents which were created or received by the federal government as it was exercising its powers under the Constitution.
Map the Constitution by representing the percentages from the table in a visual form on Handout 1.
Using different colors for each of the Articles and the Preamble, color in the squares to represent the percentage of the whole Constitution that is dedicated to each article.
Fill out the table on Handout 1 to determine the number of words contained in each Article of the Constitution, and the percentage of the whole document that represents.
This can be done easily with a digital copy of the text using the word count feature available in most word processing programs.
This lesson asks students to explore those ideas and apply them to current issues. Constitution Background information on Founding Fathers (online) Copies of primary sources 4 Handouts Answer Key (Activity 1&4) Grades 8 - 12 American history; U. government; Civics limited government, republicanism, checks and balances, federalism, separation of powers, popular sovereignty, Founding Fathers The time needed to compete each step of this lesson is presented in parenthesis at each step.
What is the significance of the Six Big Ideas in the Constitution historically and for Americans today? The lesson can be done as a whole or each step can be done separately (except Step 4 which should follow Step 3).