- Why are citizens protected by the Constitution?
- Should individual rights be limited?
Delaware State Standards
Integrated in the Instructional Strategies
Civics Standard Two 6-8a: Students will understand that the concept of majority rule does not mean that the rights of minorities may be disregarded and will examine and apply the protections accorded those minorities in the American political system.
Civics Standard Three 6-8b: Students will understand that American citizenship includes responsibilities such as voting, jury duty, obeying the law, service in the armed forces when required, and public service.
History Standard Two 6-8a: Students will master the basic research skills necessary to conduct an independent investigation of historical phenomena.
English Language Arts
English Standard 2.5b: Students will be able to critically analyze and evaluate information and messages presented through print by formulating and expressing opinions.Background
Our government has evolved from colonial times to be one of the most effective forms of government in the world. We have a written Constitution with a Bill of Rights to guarantee our basic rights. We have a tradition of electing officials who for the most part are responsive to the people and make laws with our welfare in mind. However, this is still not good enough. If we want to truly protect our rights and welfare, it is the people who must respond. An effective government must have a people willing to participate in government and willing to protect the rights of others while protecting their own rights. Throughout our history, we have developed the idea that we have certain responsibilities to fulfill to our country and to the rest of the world.
Create a bulletin board for this activity with the title, "With Rights Come Responsibility." Include four headings for your bulletin board, which the students will eventually fill in with pictures, cartoons, quotes, or articles from newspapers or magazines. Your headings are:
- Responsibilities to yourself
- Responsibilities to your family
- Responsibilities to your community, state, and nation
Divide the class into work groups and assign one of the above topics to each of the groups. Ask them to brainstorm for 10 minutes and list as many responsibilities as they can for their assigned category. Ask the groups to then share with another group with the same category and to add to their list from this group discussion. Tell them to begin looking for pictures, cartoons, quotes, or articles from newspapers or magazines to contribute to the bulletin board to illustrate the items on their list. Discuss the concept of "responsibility" in all three contexts. Put the Check for Understanding questions on a transparency and ask students to think about, write about, and discuss in class.
Check for Understanding
- In the role-play, what do you think the boy's responsibilities should be?
- Is there a responsibility for every right?
- Do you think the founders of our country might have also felt that with rights come responsibilities? How do you know?
- Where in the U.S. Constitution are responsibilities? he KWL strategy activates prior knowledge and organizes information for learning.
Ask students to role play the following situation.
Twelve-year-old boy: Dad/Mom, I was thinking that maybe I am old enough to go to the concert at the Civic Center tonight. What do you think?
Dad/Mom: Well, I'm not sure it is a question of age, isn't it more a question of what you have learned as you have been growing up?
Twelve-year-old boy: What do you mean? All I am asking is can I go or not? What else is there to talk about?
Dad/Mom: Well, in that case I have good news for you and bad news for you. The good news is that we can talk about your right to do some things on your own with your friends without me going with you.
Twelve-year-old boy: Wow, thanks! But, that doesn't mean I can go does it? What is the bad news?
Dad/Mom: The bad news, which also can be "good news," is that for every right there is a responsibility. What do you think your responsibilities should be if we agree to let you go to the concert?
Use cooperative groups to extend the discussion: "What responsibilities come with each of the following rights?"
Group 2: Freedom of Religion
Group 3: Freedom of Speech
Group 4: Freedom to Assemble
- What does each of these freedoms allow you to do?
- What are some of the limits of your freedom for each of these rights?
- What responsibility do you have for protecting the right of others to practice this freedom?
Check for Understanding
- How do citizens protect their own rights by actively protecting the rights of others? Think about the discussion for one of the freedoms listed above and use this discussion as an example to support your answer.
Follow up Contemporary Issues Activity
Think about the following situations which require the government of the United States to make choices about its responsibilities in each situation.
Ask the students how the United States might respond in each situation. Teachers might ask students to research or recall a historical situation where a similar situation occurred and how the U.S. government responded.
Possible ways the U.S. government might respond:
- military intervention
- diplomatic negotiation
- economic sanctions
- selective military strikes against the government
- cooperating with groups trying to change the government
- refusal to recognize the legality of the government
- educating citizens of tyrannical governments in the process of democracy
Group Discussion Questions:
- Which of these actions may be the most effective?
- Is there such a thing as human rights?
- What responsibilities does the United States have as a country for protecting the rights of people in other countries?
A Constitution in Iraq
Iraq is a nation struggling to unite various groups in society and create a constitution for its people. Follow the role of the United States in nation building in Iraq. Some elements of nation building to examine are security, law and order, writing a constitution, creating a government, repairing infrastructure.
Have students gather information on the process of creating a new constitution and the transition of power in Iraq and think about the implications this has for the United States. Teachers might suggest an online news source and then require students to find additional sources.
Students should understand that research is not given to them. Teachers should provide guided practice to build a foundation for conducting research. Students should also maintain a bibliography of sources used. Background for teachers on the Iraqi transition can be found here.
Check for Understanding
- What responsibilities does the United States have as a country for protecting the rights of people in other countries? Support your answer with evidence.