The Bill of Rights Institute consistently provides quality, primary-source based resources to civics educators across the country. The lessons and activities in this collection, Voices of History, will give you high-quality standards-aligned  lesson plans and learning activities.

 

Voices of History from Bill of Rights Institute on Vimeo.

This collection hosts 302 resources within topical sub-collections. Each resource includes a lesson plan and student handouts.

For more information, access the Bill of Rights Institute's Voices of History website: https://voicesofhistory.org/

 

Collection Contents

Being an American

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Through primary source analysis, writing assignments, discussion prompts, and other activities, students will “connect the dots” by focusing on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civic values, American heroes, and exploring the meaning of citizenship to them.
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Being an American (ELL)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

An expanded version of Being an American, these lessons include modifications for English Language-Learners. Through primary source analysis, writing assignments, discussion prompts, and other activities, students will “connect the dots” by focusing on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civic values, American heroes, and exploring the meaning of citizenship to them. Being an American ELL features lesson plans that include warm-ups, classroom activities, essays, homework, extensions, handouts, ELL modifications, glossaries, and Founding Principle exercises.
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Heroes and Villains

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Heroes and Villains uses narratives to discuss the concepts of civic virtue in all classrooms. Topics range from Alice Paul and perseverance to Benedict Arnold and treason. Each virtue narrative includes corresponding discussion guides, journal templates, a toolbox with additional activities, and suggestions for further reading on each topic or virtue.
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Founders and the Constitution

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Founders and the Constitution: In Their Own Words, introduces students to twenty-four individuals who had a direct impact on the founding of our constitutional government. Students will explore the lives and ideas of the Founders, analyze their writings, and appreciate each Founder’s role in shaping our government.
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Preserving the Bill of Rights

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Preserving the Bill of Rights teaches students Constitutional principles by examining primary source documents and significant Supreme Court cases. In addition, each unit features expanded classroom activities engaging students with the Bill of Rights and the responsibilities of citizenship. Students will understand the connection between current events and the Bill of Rights when they participate in activities such as writing letters to their elected representatives; serving in a mock jury; creating public service announcements; and writing model laws.
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Supreme Court Document-based Questions

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Supreme Court DBQs: Exploring the Cases that Changed History helps your students develop the critical thinking skills they need to evaluate the Court’s rulings and the impact of these rulings on American society. Your students will analyze primary sources spanning five centuries–colonial codes of law, the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, contemporary photographs, case law, oral arguments, the Court’s majority and dissenting opinions, and others. Key tasks for each DBQ will lead them towards an understanding of the role played by the Court and an assessment of its decisions. Each DBQ also contains a section called “The Issue Endures,” which highlights current applications of the case issue.
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Liberty and Security in Modern Times

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Using primary source documents, writing assignments, discussion prompts and other activities, students will explore the difficult questions and natural tensions that go along with balancing liberty with security. This curriculum focuses on the balance between liberty and security in the last 60 years.
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Religious Liberty: An American Experiment

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

In Religious Liberty: An American Experiment, students will gain an understanding of the importance of religious liberty in America, the way our Constitution protects it, and the reasons it is significant today. They will see how the example of religious liberty in America has become a model for many other nations and is an ongoing experiment.
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Immigration & Citizenship

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Immigration has had and continues to have a profound impact on the United States. Immigration and Citizenship in America examines the story of immigration in the United States by reviewing the nature of immigration and giving students tools to analyze the history of immigration both through the social history and the legal and policy debates from the Founding until the present. With this context in mind, students are better able to engage in the modern debates regarding immigration. Students will understand the factors that lead early immigrants to the United States and the challenges they faced upon arrival. They will analyze how American lawmakers viewed immigrants and the evolving nature of immigration policy. Finally, students will use this knowledge to prepare and present their own plan for immigration policies.
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Congress and the Consititution

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

The First Branch: Congress and the Constitution guides students on a tour of the legislative branch of the government of the United States. Through primary source analysis and engaging activities, students will examine the purpose of a legislature, the design of the U.S Congress, its powers, its history and the reality of how Congress works today. This curriculum also includes an interactive model Congress project that puts students in the seats of legislators, helping them better appreciate the real challenge of making a bill become a law.
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Gilded Age and Progressive Era

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

From 1876-1920, the United States went through a period of rapid technological, demographic, and political change. The Gilded Age and Progressive Era curriculum provides students an in-depth look at this formative period in United States history. Through primary-source-based activities and engaging narratives, students will be exposed to this fascinating period and analyze its numerous parallels to today.
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American Portraits

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

America’s past has been colored by characters of all types. The Bill of Rights Institute’s American Portraits Series takes a look at 139 of these characters and asks questions that are central to understanding their lives and actions. Each narrative is connected to a virtue, prompting students to explore the character of the primary actors of the stories. For a list of the virtues, check out our “Definitions of Virtue” page. For a text list of all lessons, view our “Narrative List” page. In studying these narratives, students will learn more about the past and, perhaps more importantly, more about themselves.
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