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Lesson Plan

What Are My Rights? Exploring and Writing About the Constitution

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 1-hour sessions
Lesson Author

Leslie Harper Blatteau

New Haven, Connecticut


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology


News Stories




  • Computers with Internet access

  • Large chart paper

  • Index cards

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1. You will need computers with Internet access for every one or two students in your class. If necessary, reserve Sessions 1 and 3 in your school's computer lab. Session 2 can be conducted in your classroom if you print off copies of the news articles listed in the Resources section for your students.

2. Visit and familiarize yourself with the websites listed in the Resources section. Bookmark these sites on the computers students will be using or print and make copies of the news articles for your students as suggested in Step 1.

3. Create character cards for the role-play in Session 2. There are seven characters as follows:

  • Teen who works at the movie theater

  • Police officer in a high-crime area

  • Mother of three who works nights

  • Middle school student

  • City-council member running for reelection

  • Truancy officer

  • Owner of a corner store

Each card should contain a description of the person; you will need three or four of each character depending on how many students are in your class. Every student will get a card.

4. If you do not already have a classroom blog, create one for this lesson. Check your school's Internet policy to ensure that you and your students can view and post to a blog and to find out what websites are preferable for you to use. Some schools filter blogging sites so you may need to speak with your technology coordinator ahead of time to get approval.

If they are approved, Blogger or LiveJournal are free resources you can use. You will need to collect your students' e-mail addresses to give them permission to post on the blog. You can choose to create a blog that is viewable only to your class or one that anyone can see and comment on. You will need to have the blog created and ready for use during Session 3.

5. You may want to search for blogs on a similar topic (free speech, the Constitution, curfews) to share as examples with your students during Session 3. Please bear in mind that blogs may contain inappropriate content; review them carefully before sharing with the class. Possible examples include:

6. Prepare a set of classroom debate rules to share with students before the mock public forum during Session 2. You want students to understand that a debate is much more than a verbal argument; it is a public way that two opposing sides can learn more about how and why the other side thinks. Debate rules might include:

  • Speakers at a debate should only participate when it is their specific time to do so (as instructed by the moderator).

  • Only one person should speak at a time.

  • Participants must adhere to time limits for speeches and responses.

  • In order to maintain the highest standard of order, all speeches and responses should be made to the moderator rather than to the opposing side of the debate.

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