Sunday, October 9, 2016

Teaching The Constitution and The Bill of Rights

A new fifth grade year is off to a start and like most recent years, there is a lack of materials to teach the new standards developed by my district. We have starting using Engage NY for math, but so far I have not been given my materials more than one month into the new school year. I am also on my own for finding and making social studies and science materials for my students. It is hard work, but I do enjoy creating better learning experiences for my students.

I wanted to improve the way that I have been teaching the unit on the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I had resorted to assorted reading passages, worksheets, and interactive notebooks that I had purchased on Teachers pay Teachers in the previous year.

On thing, that my district did do this year is purchase about 15 books related to social studies content for each classroom. Two of the books were by Norman Pearl with illustrations by Matthew Skeens. One was on The Constitution and the other was on The Bill of Rights. Both books were great introductions to these two important documents that can be hard for students to understand. They covered the basics in an easy to understand way without being too cumbersome for my fifth graders.

With only one copy of each book for my entire class, I needed to something to do with my students besides just using them as read-alouds. I created a review "I Have, Who Has?" game for each book: The Constitution, "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz and The Bill of Rights "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz. After reading and discussing each book, we played the corresponding "I Have, Who Has" game. Each game has 24 questions related to each document and facts surrounding the documents. My class enjoyed doing the game, because it kept them thinking and involved. We played the game a couple of times together as a class for the repetition of facts and for the reading practice. I then had them play the game again a couple of times in small groups of four the next day.

Along with each game, I included a 10 question quiz. Some students wanted more practice with the game before the quiz, so I let them take a set of cards home.

I found this to be an effective way to introduce my students to these documents and they enjoyed the activities.

The Constitution, "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz

The Bill of Rights "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz

I also found other ways to keep the class interested, such as these videos:

Actors reading The Declaration of Independence:

Two songs on The Bill of Rights (I had to remind my students about the Point of View of the first video):

I also created a similar game for The Declaration of Independence.