The ACLU offers lesson plans to assist high school teachers in teaching about the Constitution. The plans may be used as is, or adapted by the classroom teacher to best fit the needs of the students involved. Links to download the plans are at the bottom of this page.
Mock Hearing Before The U.S. Supreme Court: A Debate on Privacy in School
Overview: This “mock hearing” allows students to act out a real Supreme Court argument dealing with the privacy rights of students at a public school. The case, New Jersey vs. TLO,was the landmark decision in 1985 that established many of the legal rules on school searches that persist to this day.
Time: At least one hour is needed for this workshop, but ideally a little more.
Background knowledge required: A basic familiarity with the 4th Amendment is useful for the teacher when introducing the topic and answering student questions. However, the mock hearing itself is easy to conduct and is mostly led by the students themselves. No background knowledge is necessary for the students.
Maine’s Anti-Bullying Law: Protecting Equality in Education
Overview: This workshop addresses the issue of equality through a few different lenses. First, the history of the 14th Amendment and its impact on American law is reviewed. Next, students are asked to consider how Maine’s anti-bullying law is related to the idea of protecting equality in education. Finally, an activity allows students to craft their own anti-bullying law and compare it with the real law. The goal is for students to better understand the process of lawmaking, as well as the actual legal protections that exist for them under the anti-bullying law.
Time: Roughly one hour is needed to conduct this lesson in full, though teachers wishing to focus solely on the anti-bullying law could abbreviate the first section on the 14thAmendment and finish the lesson in as little as 40 minutes.
Background knowledge required: Students do not need any background knowledge before doing this workshop. For teachers, basic background info about the anti-bullying law is provided at the start of the lesson plan.
Privacy and New Technology
Overview: This workshop allows students to act out a legislative hearing dealing with cell phones and whether or not the government must obtain a warrant before viewing content on a suspect’s phone. It challenges students to think about how our conception of privacy can change with new technology, while at the same time allowing them to experience a mock legislative hearing.
Time: At least one hour, ideally a little more to allow for follow-up discussion.
Background knowledge required: Students do not need any background knowledge before doing this workshop, though a basic familiarity with the 4th Amendment and the legislative process will make the lesson even more impactful.
Equal Protection Under Law: The Battle of the Sexes
Overview: This workshop looks at the 14th Amendment with a specific eye on the Equal Protection Clause and the various ways that the government has attempted to prevent discrimination over time. Title IX and the Maine Human Rights Act are both examined as specific examples, followed by an activity where students attempt to put those protections into practice by analyzing hypothetical scenarios involving controversial access to athletics by students of the opposite gender.
Time: Roughly one hour is needed to conduct this lesson in full, though teachers wishing to explore the 14th Amendment in greater detail could devote more time to that portion of the lesson. The activity could also be extended if desired.
Background knowledge required: Students do not need any background knowledge before beginning this workshop. For teachers, the necessary background information to cover regarding the 14th Amendment is included early in the lesson. Teachers desiring more detailed information should consult the end of the lesson plan for a long list of free online resources provided by the ACLU.