Nebraska State Bar Foundation

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Law-Related Education We the People

We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution

The primary goal of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is to promote civic competence and responsibility among the nation’s elementary and secondary students.
2012 State
We the People
Nebraska Information
  Textbook Registration
  Staff / Coordinators
Links
  Center for Civic Education
The Citizen and the Constitution
Units of Study
Unit 1   What Are the Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System?
 
Unit 2   How Did the Framers Create the Constitution?
 
Unit 3   How Has the Constitution Been Changed to Further the Ideals Contained in the Declaration of Independence?
 
Unit 4   How Have the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices?
 
Unit 5   What Rights Does the Bill of Rights Protect?
 
Unit 6   What Challenges Might Face American Constitutional Democracy in the Twenty-First Century?

Curriculum

The foundation of the We the People program is the classroom curriculum. It complements the regular school curriculum by providing upper elementary, middle, and high school students with an innovative course of instruction on the history and principles of constitutional democracy in the United States. The We the People textbooks are designed for a wide range of student abilities and may be used as a supplemental text or for a full semester of study.

Critical thinking exercises, problem-solving activities, and cooperative learning techniques help develop intellectual and participatory skills while increasing students’ understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy. The We the People curriculum fosters attitudes that are necessary for students to participate as effective, responsible citizens. After studying the textbook, students take a multiple-choice test and prepare for the simulated congressional hearing. Upon completion of the course, they receive a certificate of achievement signed by their member of Congress or other prominent official.

We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is the high school level textbook. We the People is the title of the books designed for the upper elementary and middle school levels. Teacher’s guides for each level contain lesson plans and suggested activities to enrich classroom instruction. The primary goal of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is to promote civic competence and responsibility among the nation’s elementary and secondary students.

Classroom sets include 30 student books, a teacher’s guide, and an instructional packet containing the information and supplies necessary to complete the program. Textbooks may be purchased from the Center for Civic Education. Additional sets may be purchased from the Center at a nominal cost.

Participation

Participants hold a simulated congressional hearing as the culminating activity for the We the People program. The entire class, working in cooperative teams, prepares and presents statements before a panel of community representatives who act as congressional committee members. Students then answer questions posed by the committee members. The format provides students an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles while providing teachers with an excellent means of assessing performance.

Teachers may engage their students in the simulated hearing activity at the following levels:

Elementary and middle school level classes may conduct noncompetitive hearings in front of a classroom or auditorium-size audience with community members acting as judges.

Teachers at the high school level may conduct a noncompetitive hearing, but are encouraged to participate in the nationwide competitive program. High school competition begins at the congressional district level with teams from each school vying for the district championship. District winners go on to compete at a statewide hearing, and state champions travel to Washington, D.C., in the spring to represent their state in the We the People national finals.

More than 1,200 high school students and their teachers participate annually in the We the People national finals. While in Washington, students also have an opportunity to visit historic sites and meet with members of Congress and other dignitaries.
 

Law-Related Education


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