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Posted on August 4, 2006
On September 17, 1787, the United States Constitution was signed by 39 of the 55 delegates attending the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Delegates from 12 states had gathered at the Convention with the purpose or revising the nation's first written charter, the Articles of Confederation. Instead, they discarded the nation's first system of government and created a new one they believed would provide the United States with a strong national government to deal with the many challenges of the Confederation. The Constitution was subsequently ratified by each of the original 13 states.
In 2004 Congress designated September 17 as a day to memorialize the Constitution. This September will be the second time America sees a nation-wide effort to observe and remember its founding with the designation of Constitution Day. Commemoration will take place on Monday, September 18 so students and teachers can participate in activities and lesson plans related to America's Founders and the Constitution.
This Web site provides a lesson plan and material from a variety of electronic CQ Press sources to help instructors and students observe Constitution Day. CQ Press resources include primary sources, pro/con debates on important constitutional issues, encyclopedia articles on the Constitution, expert commentary and analysis by CQ writers, and more. In addition, this site provides links to additional free sources available on the Web and links to CQ Press books and online collections related to the Constitution.
Below you will find a Constitution Day lesson plan designed by a CQ Press author. This lesson plan is intended for high school students, but can be modified for any grade level. In this document you will find an outline for learning the history of the Pledge of Allegiance and the Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District decision, the key Supreme Court case establishing that students and teachers have First Amendment rights in schools. In addition to this lesson plan, this site features excerpts and discussion questions on school searches from Youth Justice In America (CQ PRESS 2005).
For anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of the nature of constitutions in general and background information on the U.S. Constitution, we highly recommend The Evolving Constitution essay listed in CQ Press Full-Text Documents section below. This essay provides insightful information on the theory behind written constitutions and illuminates the historical significance of the U.S. Constitution and the events leading up to the American Revolution and the ratification of the Constitution.
CQ Press is proud to continue the Poynter Institute's legacy of academic excellence and editorial independence. The Poynter Institute is a school and research center dedicated to promoting excellence and integrity in the practice of journalism.