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Bill of Rights Documentary

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Keywords: Bill of Rights Documentary, Documentary, Social Studies, Government, Civics, Bill of Rights, Constitution
Subject(s): Special Needs, Social Studies, Civics, History
Grades 3 through 5
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Digital Citizenship
View Full Text of Standards
School: Prairie Branch Elementary, Grain Valley, MO
Planned By: Stacy Brown
Original Author: Stacy Brown, Grain Valley
Objective: Students will be able to identify important principles in the Bill of Rights, such as basic rights and freedoms.

Grade Level: 5th

Number of students: 82 (4 classes)

Materials: Flip camera, common classroom materials (pen, pencils, paper, etc.), Social Studies lecture notes and worksheets (created by teacher)

Lesson Plan Steps:

Day 1: Compare and contrast the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution. Create a Venn Diagram with features of both that are similar and different. Stress to students the importance of each as it relates to the history of the United States and the structure of our government today.

Day 2: Give students a handout with the technical descriptions of the first ten amendments, also known as the Bill of Rights. Give students time to brainstorm what each amendment might mean with a group. Have them fill in a graphic organizer with one column representing the number of the amendment and one column with what they think it means. Finish the lesson by discussing with students what they thought the amendments meant, and then uncover what they really mean. Have students fill in the last column of their graphic organizer (What it really means) with your lecture notes.

Amendment # What I think it means… What is really means…
____________ __________________ __________________

Day 3: Create a vocabulary sort for the Bill of Rights. Ten strips of paper should have the amendment numbers and ten should have the amendment descriptions. Ask students to cut out all 20 pieces, and store them in a baggie. Students then can challenge their friends to see who can sort out all ten amendments to the correct number with the most accuracy. To further challenge students, allow them to ‘speed sort’ to see how fast they can correctly match up the definitions to the amendment. Post top grade level sorting winning times and names in a special place. If available, have a sort available on the smart board and call up groups one at a time to try the sort on there.

Days 4-9: Start creating documentary. Each class films part of the documentary. We broke up the documentary into several 5-10 second clips, with each class breaking up into groups of two-three students (pair students with learning disabilities with students who can aid them). Here is an example of what one class may have filmed:

Group 1: Say the definition of the first amendment.
Group 2: Say the definition of the second amendment.
Group 3: Make a skit explaining the third amendment.
Group 4: Make a poster writing out the first amendment. Film the poster so that kids can see the amendment written out, in addition to hearing their classmates read it.
Group 5: Interview a teacher in your hallway. Ask them if they know what the second amendment is.
Group 6: Form the number 10 with the bodies of the people in your group.
Group7: Slide down the slide on the playground while yelling out the amendments one by one.

(We had about 40 groups of students, so we obviously were able to cover a lot of content in each film segment. Our goal was to reinforce what each amendment in the Bill of Rights meant, and to match the number to the correct amendment. )

Day 10: Host a viewing party with the entire grade level to enjoy your amateur filmmakers hard work! Invite other teachers, administrators, and even parents!

Day11: Assessment over the Bill of Rights!
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Work with writing teacher to create prompts or scripts to be read, vertical team with 3rd grade to co-create documentary (some of the Missouri GLE's for government are taught in 3rd and 5th grade).
Materials: Whiteboards, Video Cameras, Flip Video, Projector Screens, DVD/VCR Players, Video Tools, CDs and DVDs, Hard Drives, Camera/Video Accessories, Flash/USB Drives, Computer Accessories, Mice, Social Studies, Internet Services, Worksheets, Student Resources, Assessment, Integrating Technology