USF's WebQuest 

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Unit Summary Teacher's Resources Day 1 Lesson Day 2 Lesson
Day 3 Lesson Day 4 Lesson Day 5 Lesson Day 6 Lesson
Day 7 Lesson Conclusion Student's Web Quest  

WebQuest Title: The Formation of the United States Constitution
Author: Diane Luke
Grade Level: Middle School
Date: April 25, 2005

Dear Colleague: This unit will present a different way of looking at the Constitution and its formation. Please do not be deceived by the title. This is not a government unit. Instead of focusing on the Constitution itself we will be looking at the history that surrounded its birth and its journey to eventual ratification. Students will leave this unit with an understanding of the emotion, bias, and loyalty that played an important role in the creation of this document. This until provides an excellent background for students who will then be going on to study American Government where they will then look deep into the Constitution itself. It is important for students to understand the background of the men who wrote the Constitution and the time period in which it was written. These elements make the formation of the Constitution even more striking. Your students will leave this unit with the knowledge that the Constitution is not just a "bunch of words" but rather a document forged by men attempting to shape a government, good or bad, that would best suit current and future needs.              

Unit Summary:

    Goals/Objectives:

1. Students will be able to identify key leaders in the formation of the Constitution.
2. Students will understand the compromises, plans and decisions that went into the drafting of the Constitution.
3. Students will gain knowledge regarding the difficult process of ratification.

    NCSS Theme:

Individuals, Groups and Institutions
Power, Authority and Governance

   
Days:

4 days (regular schedule)

    Content:

This lesson will focus upon the history of the Constitution rather than understanding the intricacies of the document itself. Students will learn how individuals of the 18th century worked together to form the document we live by today.

    Methods:

There will be a variety of methods employed in the teaching of this unit. Lectures, including Power Point, will be used along with group discussion and activities, mini-drama's, primary source reading and the culminating WebQuest.

 

WebQuest Summary:

    Goals/Objectives:

Students will discover what a variety of individuals in various states thought about the Constitution and its eventual ratification.

    Days:

3 days (regular schedule)

    Content:

The WebQuest will focus on the everyday individual of late 18th century America. It will bring the voice of these individuals into the formation of the Constitution.

    Methods:

Students will be assigned in groups to a state and be given individual 18th century personas. Using information from the lesson along with particular websites students will complete two tasks. The first will be an individual task where each student will write a letter to the Federal Convention stating their opinions on government and what they would like to see included in the Constitution. The second task will be group centered and will involve the creation of a short skit. This skit will be performed as if the personas are now seeing their state going through the process of ratification. Students will be asked to pretend they are at a town meeting discussing their opinions on why or why not their state should ratify the Constitution.          

 

Teachers Resources

Unit Information:
    

Background Resources

Teacher Background Information

The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwfr.html

The National Archives Experience: http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/charters/constitution.html

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School (Annapolis Convention Document): http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/amerdoc/annapoli.htm

The University of Oklahoma Law Center (The Articles of Confederation): http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/artconf.html

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School (The Federalist Papers): http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/federal/fed.htm
A More Perfect Union: http://www.americanhistory.si.edu/perfectunion/resources/touring.html

PBS: Revolution- The Constitution and New America: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2narr5.html

 

Teacher Tools

National Park Service: Independence Hall: http://www.nps.gov/inde/home.htm

Rediscovering George Washington: http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/

Founding Fathers: http://www.foundingfathers.info/

Thomas: http://thomas.loc.gov/

NARA: Digital Classroom: http://www.archives.gov/digital_classroom/lessons/constitution_day/constitution_day.html
 

Other Resources (these sites are for students)

George Washinton's Teeth http://www.dunlapdentalcare.com/did-george-washington-really-have-wooden-teeth/

Wikipedia: The United States Constitution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Constitution

The U.S. Constitution On-Line: The Articles of Confederation: http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_arti.html

Colonial Hall: http://www.colonialhall.com/index.php 

History Channel: Constitution: http://www.historychannel.org/perl/print_book.pl?ID=206382

United States Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/

Senate: http://www.senate.gov/

House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov/


Unit Lesson Sequence
 


Day 1    Back to Top
Lesson Plan Outline

Method (Attention Getter, Lecture, Callout Group, etc)

Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts
 

Materials
(Transparencies, audio, handouts, etc)
Activating Prior Knowledge Brainstorm Instructions
Interactive Lecture The Government Under the Articles of Confederation Textbook
Pairs Read Actual Text of Articles of Confederation Articles Handout
Think Aloud Reading Biography of Founding Fathers Handout

 


Day 2    Back to Top
Lesson Plan Outline

Method (Attention Getter, Lecture, Callout Group, etc)

Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts
 

Materials
(Transparencies, audio, handouts, etc)
Attention Getter Benjamin Franklin's sun-rising/sun-setting statement Power Point Presentation (this presentation used for all activities on this day)
Interactive Lecture Shays Rebellion, Federal Convention, Basic Elements of Constitution Basic Note Slides (See above)
Image Discussion Influential Men at Convention, Social Life in 1787 Uses images, read this for more information on leading discussion
Journal Entry Ten-minute reflection on personal thought regarding information learned Journal or Interactive Notebook

Day 3    Back to Top
Lesson Plan Outline

Method (Attention Getter, Lecture, Callout Group, etc)

Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts
 

Materials
(Transparencies, audio, handouts, etc)
Bell Work Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists Political Cartoon, Question List
Lecture and Discussion Ratification of the United States Constitution Textbook, Teacher Notes
Journal Entry Would you rather be a Federalist or an Anti-Federalist? Ten minute entry. Journal or Interactive Notebook

Day 4    Back to Top
Lesson Plan Outline

Method (Attention Getter, Lecture, Callout Group, etc)

Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts
 

Materials
(Transparencies, audio, handouts, etc)
Jeopardy Game Review of the information learned in the last three lessons Instructions
Lecture WebQuest Introduction Internet
Assignment Group Assignments (Have heterogeneous groups and assign each group member a specific persona and each group a specific state, refer to student page for more specific instructions) Student Page

Day 5    Back to Top
Lesson Plan Outline

Method (Attention Getter, Lecture, Callout Group, etc)

Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts
 

Materials
(Transparencies, audio, handouts, etc)
Individual and Group Work on WebQuest To learn more about the average individual during the formation of the Constitution. Internet Sources, Textbook

Day 6    Back to Top
Lesson Plan Outline

Method (Attention Getter, Lecture, Callout Group, etc)

Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts
 

Materials
(Transparencies, audio, handouts, etc)
Group Work on WebQuest To continue to gain knowledge while working with their group to bring together a mini-drama using their given personas. Internet Sources, Textbook

Day 7    Back to Top
 

Lesson Plan Outline

Method (Attention Getter, Lecture, Callout Group, etc)

Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts
 

Materials
(Transparencies, audio, handouts, etc)
Presentation Presentation of mini-drama's outlining ideas on ratification. Rubric (also available on student page) Teacher view Notes.
Discussion Concluding Discussion (Images are available to help summarize and initiate comments but can also just be used for simple closure) Images
Turn in Letter All individual letters will be turned in to the teacher to be graded Rubric (also available on student page)

 

Conclusion: At the end of the Unit students should possess a firm knowledge of the formation of the Constitution. Not only should they know the basic factual information regarding the main components of this lesson (Articles on Confederation, Federal Convention, Ratification) but they should also possess an understanding of the everyday person living in this time period. In understanding the attitudes of society students can now answer the question of "why" this event occurred more thoroughly. It is the "why" that should be most important and the key to promoting active thinking and historical inquiry.

Credits/References:
This would not have been possible without the many people who put together all the internet sites used in this lesson.
The Americans published by McDougal Littell
Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen
Primary Documentation from the Constitutional Era

 

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