Teaching Six Big Ideas in the Constitution
From The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration’s Center for Legislative Archives
“This lesson engages students in a study of the Constitution to learn the significance of “Six Big Ideas” contained in it [limited government, republicanism, checks and balances, federalism, separation of powers, popular sovereignty]. Students analyze the text of the Constitution in a variety of ways, examine primary sources to identify their relationship to its central ideas and debate the core constitutional principles as they relate to today’s political issues.”
The lesson can be done as a whole or each step can be done separately (except Step 4 which should follow Step 3).
1- Orientation to the Constitution – Mapping the Text (45 minutes)
2- Introducing the Founders (45 minutes)
3- Outlining the Constitution’s Six Big Ideas (45 minutes)
4- Analyzing Primary Sources to Relate the Six Big Ideas to History (45 minutes)
5- Debating the Six Big Ideas in America Today (45 minutes for preparation and 45 minutes to implement)
"The Center for Legislative Archives, a part of the National Archives and Records Administration, preserves and makes available to researchers the historical records of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Through its public outreach programs, the Center uses these historical records to promote a better understanding of Congress and the history of American representative government."