History matters. Almost everyone living in the United States is originally from another part of the world. Our ideal is for the people to come together and form a wonderful country, land of the free and home of the brave. But have we always measured up to this ideal? Do we today? These are just a few questions that will be answered in this unit as we discuss the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and several amendments that have helped to bring our country closer to that ideal.
The goal of this unit is to teach students about the benefits and burdens of citizenship. A common phrase we hear at school is ‘being a productive citizen.’ But what does that really mean? Citizenship is not something that begins when you are an adult. It starts in the home, when children are responsible for cleaning their rooms, taking out the trash, or watching younger siblings. Those habits carry over into school where students become members of the community by obeying rules, helping classmates solve problems, sharing supplies with someone who is in need, cleaning up after a project, and maintaining a classroom environment that is conducive to learning. Students are familiar with most of these activities or attitudes, but they do not make the connection between these important habits and the needs of the world around them. Some students have the idea that they do not have to do anything for their larger community but still expect that community to provide for their needs. We should worry about young people having this sense of entitlement. By making the connection between giving and receiving, I hope to help our students establish a sense of belonging and encourage them to grow up to become productive citizens.
History is a tough topic for students, especially younger ones. In order to explore the complex topic of citizenships, we will focus on the rights the Constitution confers and the duties that go with those rights. This unit will provide them with the background needed to tackle government topics and curriculum they will encounter in the following year, 4
grade. Students will not be expected to remember dates and people, but they will be expected to be able to (1) explain what the Constitution is and why it is necessary; (2) explain what the Bill of Rights is and what an amendment is; and (3) recall events that led to their existence. Because this unit is written for 3
graders, some as young as 7 at the beginning of the year, keeping the information concise, almost in story form, will help them to follow along and understand the impact of the information included. For this same reason projects that are produced during this unit will consist of separate works to cover a myriad of curricular assignments (research, narrative writing, reading, literary response, etc).