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Bill of Rights


  • Government


  • 9-12

Brief Description

Given a list of situations, which amendment of the Bill of Rights applies?


Students will
  • analyze one of the basic documents that shapes the government of the United States.
  • identify freedoms afforded by the Bill of Rights.
  • explain how the government protects individual rights.
  • analyze the importance of freedom of the press.
  • use their freedom of petition.


Bill of Rights, amendments, freedom, civics, government

Materials Needed

  • worksheet/handout (text provided below)

The Lesson

At the start of the lesson, give students a minute to write down three of the freedoms that are most important to them as citizens of the United States. Ask for volunteers to share their responses.

At this point in the lesson, present to students a mini-lesson in which you present the background history and highlights of the Bill of Rights. Check for understanding as you teach the main concepts.

Instead of presenting this lesson as a lecture or a read-and-discuss lesson, you might set it up as a small-group activity. Arrange students into groups and assign each member a role, such as researcher, recorder, facilitator, or speaker. Have each group thoroughly research one amendment of the Bill or Rights and then present the information to the entire class. Have each group compose three summary questions to ask other students at conclusion of its presentation. (The final test about the Bill or Rights will be composed mostly of the students' questions.)

Provide each student with a copy of the work sheet below, and review the directions with students. Arrange students into groups of three, and then have students work in their groups to complete the work sheet. Each group should come to a consensus and agree on the work sheet responses.

Bill of Rights Work Sheet Text

Directions: Read each scenario below. Explain in a couple of sentences whether you agree or disagree with each statement. Write the Bill or Rights amendment that relates to each scenario along with a brief statement that explains what you learned about that amendment. You may use your textbook and class notes.

  1. A person who enters a room and screams "Bomb!" just to see the reaction of the people in the room is protected under provisions in the Bill of Rights.
  2. Members of Congress can learn many different things -- such as what you like and dislike about the area where you live -- from letters you send to them.
  3. A police officer comes to your door and asks to search your home without probable cause. You don't want to allow the officer to enter, but he is allowed to search your home.
  4. Violence is getting to the point in our society where they should stop letting civilians own guns.
  5. The Death Penalty is a good way to punish those who murder another human being.
  6. A person is convicted of murdering another human being. Later, it is discovered that the victim of that murder had actually faked his or her death. Under those circumstances, it would be legal for the person convicted of the murder to kill the person who faked his/her death.
  7. Your parents own a house. They invest hours of time and many thousands of dollar into it. The government can make your parents sell the house to them so a highway can be built on the land.
  8. If a power is not expressed in the Constitution, then it is the responsibility of the individual states to protect citizens' rights.
  9. Even after September 11th, people are still free to practice the Islamic religion in the United States.
  10. A person involved in a dispute over $10 is permitted to take his or her complaint to a civil court.
  11. President Bush is allowed to call you at home and tell you that you must let soldiers stay in your home.
  12. Everybody in the United States has the right to a free education.

Provide time for students to share, compare, and contrast their replies to those scenarios.

Present the Homework Assignment
Explain to students the directions for the evening's homework: Exercise your freedom of petition. Write a letter to your Congressman or Congresswoman. Write about something you would like to see done or changed. The letter should be 1 to 2 pages, double-spaced and typed.

Provide students an opportunity to begin the assignment in class so you can answer any questions they have as they get started.


Students will be able to
  • list the freedoms provided under the Bill of Rights.
  • describe at least three freedoms that affect their everyday lives.
  • demonstrate their understanding of the Bill of Rights by completing the worksheet provided.
  • demonstrate their freedom of petition by writing a letter to a member of Congress about an issue of their choice.

Students will reflect on opinions expressed by group members and come to an agreed upon answer to each scenario on the work sheet. Throughout the classroom discussions, students will demonstrate that they value the opinions of other students.

Submitted By

Adam Burkett, a student at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

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