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Real people to the rescue! How to amend the U.S. Constitution (6-8)

100 minutes
Two 50-minute sessions
Primary subjects: 
Civics and Government
Grade: 
6, 7, 8
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Lesson 5 introduces a game-changing action in real time: How to amend the U.S. Constitution to defend against internal threats to democracy. Using films, students reflect on the reason to amend the Constitution, examine the constitutional amendment process, and consider the Supreme Court’s role in shaping historical progress. Eighth-grade students evaluate three proposed amendments, and all grades use interactive activities to explore how an “ideal” amendment could restore rule to the people and law and order to corporations and society.

Key objectives for students
Explain that in a democracy, government listens and responds to its citizens; when government responds only to wealthy persons, it’s an oligarchy.
Explain that the Founders made it hard to amend the Constitution, but now the country has grown large, diverse, and polarized, making amendment even more difficult.
Describe two ways to amend the Constitution through Congress or state conventions.
Explain that when the highest law of the land weakens democracy, the people have two choices: let democracy die or overrule the court by amending the Constitution.
Share ideas for making the Supreme Court more democratic by publicly-funded elections and creating term limits, maximum age limits, and diversity requirements.
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