Top Topics - Constitution and Bill of Rights

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Our Constitution and Bill of Rights

Podcast Notes (from TechTalk4Teachers)

January 31, 2012

Episode 128 TechTalk4Teachers

Federal law passed in 2004 requires that all schools that receive federal funding provide a course to all students on the Constitution on Constitution Day, September 17. The law is known as H.R. 4818, and the text is found at section 111(b):

Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.

This law does not distinguish between elementary, secondary, or college-level institutions, so it must be interpreted to apply to all levels.

The State of Illinois mandates that all junior high students pass a Federal Constitution Test and an Illinois Constitution Test.

Civics and Patriotism  (105 ILCS 5/27 3) (from Ch. 122, par. 27 3) Sec. 27 3. Patriotism and principles of representative government — Proper use of flag — Method of voting Pledge of Allegiance.

American patriotism and the principles of representative government, as enunciated in the American Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and the proper use and display of the American flag, shall be taught in all public schools and other educational institutions supported or maintained in whole or in part by public funds. No student shall receive a certificate of graduation without passing a satisfactory examination upon such subjects. Instruction shall be given in all such schools and institutions in the method of voting at elections by means of the Australian Ballot system and the method of the counting of votes for candidates. The Pledge of Allegiance shall be recited each school day by pupils in elementary and secondary educational institutions supported or maintained in whole or in part by public funds. (Source: P.A. 92 612, eff. 7 3 02.)  

History Requirement  105 ILCS 5/27 21 (from Ch. 122, par. 27 21)Sec. 27 21. History of United States.
History of the United States shall be taught in all public schools and in all other educational institutions in this State supported or maintained, in whole or in part, by public funds.

"The teaching of history shall have as one of its objectives the imparting to pupils of a comprehensive idea of our democratic form of government and the principles for which our government stands as regards other nations, including the studying of the place of our government in world wide movements and the leaders thereof, with particular stress upon the basic principles and ideals of our representative form of government.

"The teaching of history shall include a study of the role and contributions of African Americans and other ethnic groups including but not restricted to Polish, Lithuanian, German, Hungarian, Irish, Bohemian, Russian, Albanian, Italian, Czech, Slovak, French, Scots, Hispanics, Asian Americans, etc., in the history of this country and this State.

"The teaching of history also shall include a study of the role of labor unions and their interaction with government in achieving the goals of a mixed free enterprise system.

No pupils shall be graduated from the eighth grade of any public school unless he has received such instruction in the history of the United States and gives evidence of having a comprehensive knowledge thereof. 
(Source: P.A. 92 27, eff. 7 1 01; 93 406, eff. 1 1 04.)


TOPIC #1: THOMAS THOMAS is an area of the Library’s site that we haven’t talked about much.  It is a wealth of information for those who teach current events or civics, but also for anyone that is interested in the legislative process and the decisions being made that impact our lives.  

About THOMAS:  THOMAS was launched in January of 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress. The leadership of the 104th Congress directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public. Since that time THOMAS has expanded the scope of its offerings to include Bills & Resolutions, Activity in Congress, Congressional Record, Schedules, Committee Information and more.

Constitution Day Resources  These links lead to multiple areas, including Web Guides that were created by scholars in the Research and Reference area of the Library.   A link to Web Guides - Primary Documents in American History - The Articles of Confederation 

Beginning at the Teachers page is always a good idea.  You can look for a specific type of resource or browse by theme.  To locate materials relevent to teaching about the Constitution and Bill of Rights, visit Classroom Materials then Themed Resources and finally Civics and Government 

On these pages you will find links to Primary Source Sets, Lesson Plans, Exhibitions and Presentations and more.  

The Constitution Primary Source Set not only offers a multimedia sampler of primary sources, but a brief historical background and some suggestions for teachers. 

TOPIC #3: MYLOC  MyLOC was created to present items in online exhibitions that reveal our nations history, knowledge and creativity through primary sources, activities and materials. Users are able to register for accounts and save.  It also makes is easy to Share and Save. 

Creating the United States (from About this Collection)
"Imagination and vision played critical roles in the creative act of forming a self-governing United States of America. The collections of the Library of Congress are unquestionably the world’s best source for documenting the process. This exhibition offers a remarkable opportunity to learn in a fresh new way how the founding documents that emerged from this period were forged out of insight, invention, and creativity, as well as collaboration and much compromise.

Through the trials of war and peace the founders created a unique government—a republic across an enormous geographic region and encompassing a vast variety of cultural complexities. Although living up to the principles of humanity laid down in the Declaration of Independence has been an arduous journey, the exhibition demonstrates that the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are living instruments that are central to the evolution of the United States."

Don't miss!!  Interactives: Be sure to take a look at the wonderful interactive activities. 


Special Project: In honor of Constitution Day, Teaching with Primary Sources at EIU is showcasing some resources to help you celebrate and educate!  

A Closer Look at the Constitution is an interactive look at the Constitution like you have never seen before. You will be able to get up close and personal with this incredible document from the comfort of your web browser. Zoom into the document to study text with incredible detail. You can also navigate throughout the document and click "hotspots," links that will take you to additional information.

To learn more about the men who signed their names on this historic document be sure to visit Faces Behind the Constitution.  On this page you can learn a little about these 39 men.  

Library of Congress Constitution Resources for Teachers is a list of links and resources to search for inspiration.

One Day in the Creation of the Constitution features images and looks specifically at one day in the creation of the Constitution through the text of the "Report of the Committee of Style" and notes of George Washington. Although a final document is important, we can learn a great deal about people and culture by looking at the creative process and edits such as words that are omitted, substituted and added.

The Source - The most recent and next issues of "The Source" have focused on this topic.  
January 2012 - The Constitution 
February 2012 - Bill of Rights  

In closing, because we are preparing to celebrate Presidents Day and here in Illinois we have a deep appreciation for President Lincoln, I wanted to remind everyone that there are many wonderful primary sources on the Library of Congress site relative to our 16th president. 

Look for resources throughout the Library site, like an image and transcript of Lincoln’s Farewell Address to Springfield.

In addition, TPSEIU offers:
Teaching Lincoln with Primary Sources 
Lincoln Assassination csi
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Tools



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