SEPTEMBER 17, 2014
This is my eleventh year of teaching and my principal always makes sure that all the social studies teachers at my school cover something about the Constitution on September 17th. While I knew that September 17th celebrates the day that the document was signed at the Constitutional Convention, I always wondered where did this day of showing the Constitution a little love come from? I decided to do a little research to learn more.
In 1939, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst began to advocate for a holiday to celebrate citizenship. Using his political connections, he was able to get Congress on board and every year in the month of May during the 1940s our country would celebrate “I am an American Day.” In 1952 the day was changed to Citizenship Day to be celebrated on September 17th. By 2004 an amendment to the Omnibus Spending Bill would change the day’s name to its current one, Constitution Day, and would require educational programs on the history of the Constitution to be taught in all publically funded schools.
iCivics offers an engaging lesson to use with your students on Constitution Day. The iCivics lesson serves as a great introduction to teaching the Constitution which is something I teach more in depth with my students later on in the first semester. The great thing about using any iCivics lesson plan is that each lesson comes with different activities which allows for you to pick and choose what works for you and your classroom and within the time you have teach that subject. The Constitution Day lesson begins with a student reading activity, loaded with vocabulary words and gives your students a short and sweet overview of the Constitution. One concept that is sometimes difficult for my students to understand is how the three branches of government work together. The Constitution Day lesson has a great activity that I like to have my students work in groups to complete together. The activity has the students looking at different actions that each branch does and then they cut and paste those actions into a graphic organizer. The graphic organizer helps my students to see how the branches all work together and I have them keep the organizer to use as a reference when we study the Constitution closely later on in the semester.
iCivics has fun and interactive games and lessons that introduce your students to the Constitution in informed, simplified and understandable ways. There are many different lessons floating around out there these days that support Constitution Day, but for me, iCivics lessons have worked best for my 8th grade students.
Amy Raper is an 8th grade social studies teacher at Palo Verde Middle School in Phoenix, Arizona. I love finding new ways to get my students engaged and excited for learning in my classroom. Twitter: @amyraper
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