The Origins of the Constitution Project
How have historical traditions shaped democracy as we see it expressed in the US Constitution?
Introduction To This Project

The Origins of the Constitution Project has been designed with a number of goals in mind.

Over the course of this project, students will have an opportunity to discover the connections between the several traditions that have shaped the Constitution including the contributions of the ancient world (both the Greek and Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions), the precedents set in English political history, and the ideas presented by the enlightenment philosophers. Students will then synthesize what they discover into one of three creative forms, a PowerPoint Presentation, a comic book or a skit/movie.

Within the process of this journey from research to product, students will do much more than simply uncover the contents of the state standards. They will practice a wide variety of real world skills. They will start with an introduction to organizing and executing a search for information on the internet. They will practice evaluating the value of the web pages they find and the information on them. Once they have gathered their data, they will learn to organize it, analyze it and compose a formal conclusion. In this way, the project allows students to develop their ability to gather, evaluate, organize and compose information into a proven thesis.

When that is completed, students will have new challenges with the more creative section of the assignment. Students will need to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the members of their group to determine which project suits them best. The three choices reflect three very different learning styles: logical/linear for the PowerPoint, visual/spatial for the comic book and kinesthetic/interpersonal for the skit/movie. Once the project has been selected, students will need to divide the work, create a calendar to chart their progress and submit a rough draft for professional (the teacher) and self review. In this way, students will practice valuable skills managing a group dynamic and planning and executing a project.

Finally, students will present their final project to the class and have a peer review. Thus, they gain experience in public speaking and the clarity of understanding about what does and does not work in a product that can only come from an evaluating audience.

In the best possible way, the technology inherent in the creation of the Powerpoint, the comic book or the skit/movie becomes simply the Tool students use to develop a host of necessary academic and professional skills.

For ease of consideration, I have broken down the full skill sets included in this project here:

Project Objective: Students will explain how the philosophy of the ancient world, English political tradition, and the ideas of the enlightenment philosophers have contributed to the development of the US Constitution and Democracy in America with a PowerPoint presentation, comic or skit/movie.

Academic Skills Objective: Group work skills, brainstorming research terms, keeping a research log, summarizing information, writing clear conclusions, project planning and using a calendar, creating a project of many parts that all fit together, public speaking and presentation, and doing both self and peer assessments.

Technical Skills Objective: Using E-mail, Google Docs, PowerPoint Presentation, Comic Life, Movie editing software like Microsoft Movie Maker, Microsoft word.

You can also see the Online Student Version of this whole assignment by clicking the link below:

Origins of the Constitution Project