Robert C. Byrd inserted a provision into a massive spending bill that Congress passed in 2004 requiring every school and college that receives federal money to teach about the Constitution on Sept. 17, the day it was adopted in 1787. This year Constitution Day is being observed on Tuesday, September 17, 2013. Throughout his life, the West Virginia Democrat kept a copy of the Constitution in his pocket.
The federal government does not dictate when or how to implement the lesson. It was Senator Byrd’s intention that educators use creativity and find interesting ways to teach the lessons of the Constitution. You may determine what kind of program you want to organize, (for example assembly, school play or reenactment, closed-circuit TV broadcast throughout the building followed by classroom discussion.) Below you will find a list of current resources available online to assist you with lesson plans, primary source documents, biographies, role-play scenarios and other activities too numerous to mention.
- The United States Senate website where an explanation of the U.S. Constitution and Constitution Day can be found http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/ConstitutionDay.htm
- The National Constitution Center has classroom resources, books, lesson plans,http://www.constitutioncenter.org/constitutionday/display/MainS/Home
- One of their most popular links, America Reads the Constitution,http://www.constitutioncenter.org/constitutionday/display/NccP/America+Reads+the+Constitution might be something that you and your students would enjoy. This site also features a poster with teaching guide, interactive constitution online, fast facts, basic principles, and other ideas and resources too numerous to mention.
- The National Archives offers many links to primary documents and audio clips.http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/charters/constitution/constitution-day.html
- The National Archives Digital Classroom is loaded with units, lessons, interaction and more. http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/constitution-day/
- Education World offers a plethora of links, lessons, and the legislation enacting this Congressional initiative. http://www.education-world.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson347.shtml
- Try More Lessons Caught on the Net on this same site for some very good lessons http://www.education-world.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson347b.shtml
- And then there is Constitution Day celebrated in other countries on Wikipedia – something that I had not thought about before now. Could be interesting classroom conversation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_Day
- A large variety of primary source documents and a “Fun Zone” full of activities can be found at http://www.constitutionfacts.com/. Click on the Constitution Day 2010 tab on the top right hand corner of the site. There is also a poster contest and a Constitution I.Q. quiz available on the site.
- Education World also provides a tremendous amount of resources for Constitution Day at http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson347.shtml.