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Primary Source Analysis

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The Big Ideas of the U.S. Constitution
Unrestricted Use
Public Domain
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In this activity students will identify and define seven key ideas contained in the U.S. Constitution by making matches from the grid. They will then analyze documents that demonstrate each big idea in action.

This activity is designed to prepare students for the Constitution-in-Action Learning Lab at the National Archives in Washington, DC. It is a part of a package of pre-visit activities associated with the lab experience.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Primary Source
Provider:
National Archives and Records Administration
Provider Set:
DocsTeach
Date Added:
11/13/2020
Compromise at the Constitutional Convention
Unrestricted Use
Public Domain
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This activity is designed to help students understand the debates at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that shaped America’s legislative branch of government. The primary goal of this activity is for students to discover how a compromise balanced the needs of large states and small states and how this led to the creation of the current House of Representatives and Senate.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
United States Capitol Visitor Center
Author:
OER_LIBRARIAN
Date Added:
12/14/2020
Preamble of the U.S. Constitution
Unrestricted Use
Public Domain
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Print the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution sheet seen here. There are 7 spaces for you to draw your idea of what each phrase means. What does “We the People” look like to you? Draw your idea on the dotted line.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
United States Capitol Visitor Center
Author:
OER_LIBRARIAN
Date Added:
12/09/2020
Separation of Powers or Shared Powers: Weighing the Evidence
Unrestricted Use
Public Domain
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In this activity, students will identify and draw conclusions about the relationship between the legislative, executive and judicial branches by critically analyzing primary sources. Using the scale, they will decide whether the United States government more appropriately fits the concept of "separation of powers" or "shared powers." They will formulate an opinion about each document and place it on the scale accordingly, and support their opinions with specific evidence from the primary sources.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Primary Source
Provider:
National Archives and Records Administration
Provider Set:
DocsTeach
Date Added:
11/13/2020
Statue of Freedom and Philip Reid
Unrestricted Use
Public Domain
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Atop the Dome of the U.S. Capitol stands a statue more than 19 feet tall, cast in bronze. Her name is Freedom. American artist Thomas Crawford sculpted Freedom from plaster at his studio in Rome, Italy. Crawford created three designs. The statue was shipped across the ocean in five pieces and assembled by an Italian craftsman for temporary display on the Capitol grounds. Then the pieces were to be taken apart and cast into bronze.The U.S. government hired Clark Mills, who owned a foundry in Washington, D.C., to make the bronze castings. A foundry is a factory where metal is melted for casting. However, the artist who assembled Freedom covered the seams between the five pieces in plaster, hiding them from view. He refused to take his work apart unless he received a pay raise. Only one man knew what to do. His name was Philip Reid.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
United States Capitol Visitor Center
Author:
OER_LIBRARIAN
Date Added:
12/09/2020
To Sign or Not to Sign
Unrestricted Use
Public Domain
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Students will consider the arguments made by members of the Continental Congress regarding whether or not to sign the Declaration of Independence. They will also have the opportunity to analyze each section of the Declaration to understand its meaning and consider the consequences of signing the document.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Primary Source
Provider:
National Archives and Records Administration
Provider Set:
DocsTeach
Date Added:
11/13/2020
The United States Constitution: Annotated
Read the Fine Print
Educational Use
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Here we present the Constitution, as it was signed in 1787, along with the 27 Amendments.

How did those at the Constitutional Convention arrive at the compromises included in the document, and how did they try to convince others to support or reject the Constitution? Click on our popup annotations to learn more about the conversations and concerns being discussed at that pivotal time, as addressed by the authors of The Federalist Papers: John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. Follow the links to Congress.gov to read the full text.

How has the Constitution been interpreted over the years? Our Supreme Court Ruling annotations provide brief descriptions of landmark decisions that have set the precedent for U.S. policy throughout its history. The links will take you to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, where you can read the original decisions handed down by the court.

Additional popups offer brief histories related to this document, changes that have been made by later amendments, and a list of all the signers along with links to their short biographies!

Direct quotes are italicized and links are in blue.

This Annotated Constitution was conceived by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, researched and written by Joshua Zampetti and Samuel Holliday, and published by Joshua Zampetti. The Clarence J. Brown Graduate Internship provided the funding for Zampetti’s work on this project.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Reading
Provider:
United States Capitol Historical Society
Date Added:
11/13/2020
The Voting Record of the Constitution
Unrestricted Use
Public Domain
Rating
0.0 stars

In this activity, students will analyze a primary source document to find relevant historical data and measure the degree of agreement and disagreement during the Constitutional Convention.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Primary Source
Provider:
National Archives and Records Administration
Provider Set:
DocsTeach
Date Added:
11/13/2020