Constitution Day in the classroom with C-SPAN

  • Sep 05, 2014

1856 depiction of the 1787 Constitutional Convention by Junius Brutus Stearns

I must admit that it came as a surprise to me today to learn that a federal law passed in 2004 requires all schools that receive federal funding to teach about the Constitution every September 17, the anniversary of its adoption in 1787, as part of what’s officially recognized as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.

Which makes sense in an American classroom, of course. But nevertheless when word of the new law got around in 2005 it was met with some surprise by educators. As one social studies teacher told the Washington Post, “We already have one of those. It’s called our curriculum.”

Now, if you’re a history or social studies teacher in a federally-funded school this is probably old news. But in case you’re late to the dance, like me, don’t panic. September 17th is approaching fast but you’ll be happy to know that C-SPAN Classroom has got you covered with a free, well-crafted lesson plan that you can easily incorporate into your curriculum. It’s designed for one 90-minute or two 45-minute classes, and built around the central question “How is the U.S. Constitution different from other countries’ Constitutions?”.

You’ll find the lesson plan here.

Happy Constitution Day and Citizenship Day!

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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(painting, top: 1856 depiction of the 1787 Constitutional Convention by Junius Brutus Stearns)