Our friends at the National Constitution Center (NCC) have gone out of their way to curate resources for teaching the foundations of democracy and the Constitution. We are pleased to share this specially curated collection of resources and opportunities to help Utah educators cultivate lifelong constitutional literacy.
One thing stands out from this collection: the emphasis on interactive tools to help students make sense of the Constitution for themselves and really engage with it! Memorizing facts can be fun, especially if it involves games; it can even help students pass a test for another dopamine hit. But students promptly forget whatever they may have memorized for those activities. The NCC Constitution has taken that research insight to heart and developed tools to help students (and adults, for that matter) make a positive difference in civic life, starting with deep knowledge about the Constitution.
CHECK OUT THE TOOLS
Constitutional Exchanges from the National Constitution Center The Exchange Program connects middle school, high school, and college students online to practice civil dialogue skills; apply critical thinking and active listening; and learn about the Constitution, and how it affects their lives. All programs are offered for free and are a unique way to build constitutional knowledge through live interactive classes and the NCC’s acclaimed online learning platform, the Interactive Constitution. Students, teachers, and parents can join a constitutional conversation from anywhere in the United States, accessing publicly available Zoom sessions from a home computer, tablet, or phone. The Center offers three types of exchanges, and suggests teachers use a combination of all three offerings:
Public Scholar Exchanges Part lecture and part lively conversation, these weekly classes are accessible to the public so that students, teachers, and parents can join in a discussion with National Constitution Center scholars on core topics such as the branches of government, landmark court cases, civil rights, First Amendment’s freedoms of speech and press and the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure. Each week this school year, three classes will be offered: an introductory session, an advanced session, and a Fun Friday Session with distinguished guest scholars.
Peer-to-Peer Scholar Exchanges Teachers can schedule their class to join semi-private exchanges, allowing students to review the materials with scholars in a smaller group for more one-on-one support to improve constitutional understanding. New for this year, multiple classes will be able to register for sessions together! The goal is to promote deeper understanding and enhance opportunities for civil discourse and discussion. Having constitutional conversations outside the walls of the classroom is essential for an active and engaged citizenry.
Virtual Tours Get a behind-the-scenes experience hearing the personal stories and historic context that bring the Constitution to life. From the main exhibit, The Story of We the People, to the iconic Signers’ Hall, to our newest exhibits Civil War and Reconstruction and The 19th Amendment: How Women Won the Vote. One of the Center’s museums educators will walk your group through our exhibits live, which will allow your group to interact with them directly to ask questions or engage with other groups on tour!
Teacher Advisory Council – For Utah Educators! The National Constitution Center's Teacher Advisory Council (TAC) supports the Center by sharing best practices for teaching constitutional and civic topics—looking at the intersection of U.S. history and current events—and advises the Center on programs and resources that would best support classroom instruction on constitutional fundamentals. Teachers on the advisory council are active and engaged educational professionals who advocate on behalf the National Constitution Center with outreach for programs like the live classes and professional development opportunities. Want to learn more? Fill out the Utah Teacher Advisory Council form here!
The Interactive Constitution The National Constitution Center unites America’s leading scholars from diverse legal and philosophical perspectives to explore the text, history, and meaning of the U.S. Constitution. The Interactive Constitution is a nonpartisan tool and has allowed learners of all ages to engage with the text of the Constitution, discover how experts agree and disagree about its history and meaning, and explore arguments on all sides of the constitutional debates at the center of American life.
Classroom Learning Materials The National Constitution Center brings innovative teaching tools to your classroom. Our approach to constitutional education emphasizes historic storytelling, constitutional rather than political questions, and the habits of civil dialogue and reflection. Our instructional materials use the National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution to provide students with nonpartisan analysis from top constitutional scholars.
Professional Development The National Constitution Center is focused on working with educators and scholars to empower students throughout the country with the tools, knowledge, and pedagogical practice they need to understand the Constitution and its relevance to Americans’ lives.
The NCC has so much more! Join the conversation or email us with questions.
Download the full NCC Tools Sheet HERE