Key Constitutional Concepts – Creating a Constitution
Author: National Constitution Center
The first section of the film Key Constitutional Concepts examines the creation of the Constitution of the United States and why it came about. The centerpiece of the lesson is this section of the film itself, available on the web site. Prior to viewing the film, students are asked to respond to a key question, which will set a conversation in motion for the whole lesson. The teacher then introduces the film by providing key facts about the Constitutional Convention. To ensure engagement during the film, students are given the task of collecting a list of the many conflicts and compromises that went into the creation of a new American government. The lesson is completed with students reading Benjamin Franklin’s closing speech at the Constitutional Convention. Students are asked to use information collected in this section of the film to analyze Franklin’s comments.
- Understand why there was a need for a Constitutional Convention and why nationalists believed the Articles of Confederation could not meet the needs of the nation, as demonstrated by Shays’ Rebellion.
- Understand the inherent conflicts among the states including fear and distrust of strong central governments, fear of small states being overwhelmed by larger ones in a Congress where representation was based on population, pro-slavery vs.anti-slavery sentiments proponents of a bill of rights vs. those who believed that the framework of the Constitution itself protected individual liberties
- Study the solutions that were incorporated into the Constitution and the conflicts that were left unresolved.
- Examine a primary source document, Franklin’s Speech, and connect it to newly acquired knowledge.
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