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Shaping the Constitution: For Educators

For Educators

The "Shaping the Constitution: Resources from the Library of Virginia and the Library of Congress" Web portal was designed specifically with educators in mind. Our goal was to create a toolbox of educational resources that would enable teachers to tell the story of Virginia's role in the Founding Era using primary source documents and images. Below are descriptions of how the portal is organized and tips for using it as an instructional resource.

Features of the "Shaping the Constitution" Web portal

Buffet-style usability

Like a buffet table from which you can pick and choose your meal, depending on what you like and how hungry you are, "Shaping the Constitution" was designed to be flexible to fit the preferences of different teachers. You can choose the level of reliance you will place on the Web portal. Perhaps all you need is a single high-quality image of a document to illustrate your lesson, while another teacher might use the background essays as a quick refresher before teaching a lesson. Someone else may choose to use an entire lesson plan, while another teacher will just incorporate aspects of the plan into his or her existing plan.

The essays included on the portal are written for a general-reading audience. These essays will help to place the documents in their proper context, while explaining their importance to the history of both the United States and Virginia. In contrast to information found on Wikipedia-style sites, these essays were written by scholars, reviewed by experts on the subjects, and extensively checked by professional researchers. They are ideal resources for educators as they prepare to introduce the primary sources to their students. For older, higher-functioning students, these essays may become a part of the lesson in their own right.

The fully developed lesson plans and activities included on the portal were created in consultation with the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) advisors to guide educators on the best ways to use the primary sources on the portal as central instructional pieces in their classrooms

HOW THE "SHAPING the Constitution" WEB portal IS ORGANIZED

Each unit explores a different aspect of American history as it relates to the development of the United States Constitution. Navigation through the portal can be directed through the listing of sources for each unit, thematically through the Explore page, chronologically through the Timeline, or from links within the entries.

Within each unit you will find:

 •An overview essay

 •Individual entries on each primary source

 •Biographical profiles of key individuals

 •Lesson plans

Special Feature: The "For Educators" Icon:

For Educators

The "Shaping the Constitution" Web portal includes special features designed specifically for educators. On each unit page, clicking the "For Educators" icon will reveal the lesson plans correlated to the Virginia Standards of Learning and the National History Standards and developed for that unit, which are downloadable as PDFs or as Word documents. On the entry page, clicking the "For Educators" icon will reveal two sets of questions that educators can use to explore the document with their students.

The types of documents featured include:

 •Handwritten letters

 •Official government documents, such as journal entries, official correspondence, commissions, warrants, and petitions

 •Broadsides showing political cartoons and public announcements

 •Historical newspapers

 •Maps

 •Paintings, sculptures, and photographs of key players and significant events

Each document is represented in an entry that includes:

 •A high-resolution image that provides for detailed exploration

 •Full-text transcription of the document

 •An interpretive essay

 •Full citation

 •Suggestions for further reading

 •Two sets of questions for higher and lower abilities

Subscribe to our Online Classroom RSS feed to get updates on changes to "Shaping the Constitution" and other educational offerings from the Library of Virginia, by clicking the RSS icon located at the top right of the page.

USING THE "SHAPING THE CONSTITUTION" WEB PORTAL TO MEET EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS

Perhaps one of the most critical educational values of the Web portal is its strong connection to the instructional standards and framework outlined by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) in its Standards of Learning (SOL) for History and Social Science. The lesson plans included are based on some of the best instructional models for incorporating primary sources and correlated to both the Virginia SOLs and the National Center for History in the Schools' (NCHS) Standards for Historical Thinking. The portal uses the "Teaching for Understanding" model developed by Dr. Mary McFarland. The goal is to provide educators with all the necessary resources and tools needed to employ successfully the documents available at the "Shaping the Constitution" Web portal as a part of their teaching strategies.

In addition to essential subject knowledge on United States and Virginia history as well as government and civics, the Library of Virginia and Library of Congress documents address a key skill requirement outlined by the VDOE—the ability to identify and interpret primary source documents.

Lesson Plans and Resources Available

Lessons and resources available for the "Becoming Free and Independent States" Unit include:

"Declaration of Independence; the Unanimous Declaration of Our Classroom"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.1 (d, e), VS.5 (a), USI.1 (a, b), USI.6 (a, b, c), VUS.1 (a), VUS.4 (b), GOVT.2(a)
National History Standards: 1A and 1B

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (255 KB) Word (143 KB) Power Point (3 MB)

 

"Freedom is Worth Fighting For—Billy and James"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.1 (d, e), VS.5 (b)
National History Standards: 2C (7–12)
Standards in Historical Thinking - Historical Analysis and Interpretation

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (88 KB) Word (137 KB) Power Point (9 MB)

 

"Women & the American Revolution—Anna Maria Lane and Mary Willing Byrd"

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.5 (c), VS.5 (b), VUS.4 (c)
National History Standards: Standard 2C (7–12)
Standards in Historical Thinking - Historical Analysis and Interpretation

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (109 KB) Word (132 KB) Power Point (2 MB)

 

"Piecing Together the Events at the Battle of Yorktown"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.5(c) VUS.4 d (d)
National History Standards: Era 3: Standard 1C (Grades 7–12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (2 MB) Word (170 KB) Power Point (35 MB)

 

Lessons and resources available for the "Forming a More Perfect Union" Unit include:

"'We, the People v. We, the States': The Virginia Ratifying Convention"

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.7 (a, b), CE.6 (a-d), VUS.1 (h), VUS.5 (a, b, d)
National History Standards: 3A (9–12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (466 KB) Word (168 KB) Power Point (2 MB)

 

'We, the People v. We, the States' - High School Script

'We, the People v. We, the States' - Middle School Script

"Meet the Past - Debating Ratification in Virginia"

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.7 (a, b), CE.6 (a-d), VUS.1 (h), VUS.5 (a, b, d)

National History Standards: 3A (9–12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (215 KB) Word (126 KB)

 

"Taking Sides—Washington, Mason, Madison, and the United States Constitution"

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.7 (a, b), VUS.1 (h), VUS.5 (a, b, d)
National History Standards: 3A (9–12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (151 KB) Word (131 KB)

 

Lessons and resources available for the "Securing the Blessings of Liberty" Unit include:

"Virginia and the U.S. Bill of Rights"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.6 (b), USI.7 (b), VUS.1 (h), VUS.5 (a) (b) (d), CE.2 (b), CE.3 (b), CE.6 (a) (b) (c) (d)
National History Standards: 3B (Grades 7-12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (155 KB) Word (193 KB)

 

Lessons and resources available for the "The Thirteenth Amendment" Unit include:

"Antebellum Freedom"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.4, USI.5, CE.1, VUS. VUS.2, VUS.6
National History Standards: Era 4 - 2d (Grades 7-12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (232 KB) Word (172 KB)

 

"Death or Liberty"

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.8, USI.9, CE.1, VUS.1 (h), VUS.6
National History Standards: Era 4 - 2d (Grades 5-12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (188 KB) Word (173 KB)

 

"Life as an Enslaved People"

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.9, CE.1 (a), VUS.1 (h), VUS.6 (a)
National History Standards: Era 4 - 2D

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (150 KB) Word (173 KB)

 

"Life as a Liberated People"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.8, CE.1, VUS.1 (h), VUS.7
National History Standards: Era 5 - 3b (Grades 9-12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (98 KB) Word (172 KB)

 

"Emancipation and the Thirteenth Amendment"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.1, VS.4 (a), VUS.3, VUS.6 (e)
National History Standards: Era 4 - 2d

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (1 MB) Word (153 KB) Power Point (6 MB)

 

"An Overview of American Slavery"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.1, VS.4 (a), VS.7 (a), VUS.3, VUS.6 (e)
National History Standards: Era 4 - 2d

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (48 KB) Word (149 KB) Power Point (40 MB)

 

Lessons and resources available for the "The Fourteenth Amendment" Unit include:

"Who is Jim Crow? Understanding Stereotypes"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VUS.7 (c), VUS.8 (c), USII.3 (c)
National History Standards: United States History: Era 6, Standard 17; Era 9, Standard 29

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (454 KB) Word (167 KB)

 

"Jim Crow and Virginia Indians"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.8 (a, b), USII.4 (c)
National History Standards: Standards in History for Grades K-4, Topic 2, Standard 3c, History Standards for Grades 5-12, United States, Era 6, Standard 2b

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (53 KB) Word (173 KB)

 

Lessons and resources available for the "The Nineteenth Amendment" Unit include:

"In Most Humble Manner: Women and Politics Before 1920"

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.8(d) USII.4(e) CE.1(d-f, h), VUS.1 (h), VUS.6 (e), VUS.8 (d), GOVT.6 (f)
National History Standards: Era 4-4C (Grades 5-12) and Era 7-1B (Grades 5-12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (124 KB) Word (150 KB) Power Point (42 MB)

 

"All Men and Women Are Created Equal: The National Woman Suffrage Movement"

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.8(d) USII.4(e) CE.1(d-f, h), VUS.1 (h), VUS.6 (e), VUS.8 (d), GOVT.6 (f)
National History Standards: Era 4-4C (Grades 5-12) and Era 7-1B (Grades 5-12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (420 KB) Word (146 KB) Power Point (501 KB)

 

"Socratic Circle: Virginia's Woman Suffrage Movement"

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.8(d) USII.4(e) CE.1(d-f, h), VUS.1 (h), VUS.6 (e), VUS.8 (d), GOVT.6 (f)
National History Standards: Era 4-4C (Grades 5-12) and Era 7-1B (Grades 5-12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (169 KB) Word (146 KB) Power Point (15 MB)

 

Videos

There are a selection of short videos available to complement some of our Revolutionary and Founding Era documents. These videos are linked from the documents themselves to the Library of Virginia's U-tube channel. They can also be accessed at the Virginia Department of Education's iTunes U site: Virginia on iTunes U (requires iTunes)

Cornerstone Documents in Virginia and American History: An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom — Tom Camden, LVA director of Special Collections, displays the rarely seen authentic copy of Virginia's statute for Religious Freedom.

Cornerstone Documents in Virginia and American History: The Declaration of Independence — Tom Camden, LVA director of Special Collections, displays the Library's rare copy of an 1818 printing of the Declaration of Independence.

Declaring Essential Rights: Virginia and the U.S. Bill of Rights — Brent Tarter, historian and LVA senior editor, discusses the influence of Virginia politicians on the United States Constitution and particularly in the development of the U.S. Bill of Rights. Describing the political climate in Virginia as well as the creation of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, he argues that the Bill of Rights was indisputably modeled on these earlier Virginia documents.

Billy and James: Choices Facing African Americans during the Revolutionary War — Tameka Hobbs, historian and LVA educational programs manager, discusses the choices for enslaved African Americans during the American Revolution. In particular, she contrasts the situations of James Lafayette, an African American who worked as a spy for the Continental army, and Billy, an African American man who was arrested for fighting with the British against the Americans.

Quirks of Old Documents: Spelling, Tildes, Ampersands, and the Long S — Maria Kimberly, LVA educational resource coordinator, explains a few strange or confusing things that readers encounter in eighteenth-century documents, using a Patrick Henry document and an early printing of the United States Constitution. She gives several examples and a good explanation of the use of the long s, which is commonly mistaken by modern readers for an f.

Women of the American Revolution: Anna Maria Lane — Sandy Treadway, Librarian of Virginia, tells the story of Anna Maria Lane, a woman who fought as a soldier in the American Revolution. She discusses the role of women in the Revolution and how unusual Lane's contributions were as well as explaining how we know Lane's story through the scant information that remains about the heroic woman.

Tips for Using resources from "Shaping the Constitution" in Your Classroom

Review the "Shaping the Constitution" Web portal. Peruse the site. Study how the portal is structured, and what documents are included in the seven units. Use the overview essays, historical backgrounds, biographies, and timeline to refresh yourself on the content and context.

Identify the primary source that will best complement your classroom instruction. There are a variety of documents and images from which you can select. What would best make your point? Another factor in selecting a resource is the age and ability of your students. Many of the manuscript items are difficult to read because they are handwritten. Further, many feature complex language that will be difficult for some students to comprehend. For younger students, consider using portraits or sculptures from the Library of Virginia's Art Collection. Older students in the elementary grades should be able to appreciate manuscript items that are shorter in length. Middle and high school students, on the other hand, may be able to handle multiple related documents. When using multiple documents, think about the interplay between the items, what stories they tell, and what questions you can use to drive the discussion.

Download or print your image or document. From the entry page, you can print or download documents to support your instructional and educational needs. For smaller files, right-click on the image and save the file to your computer. For larger files, click on the "High Res" text underneath the image, which will allow you to download a larger image file in PDF format. When using images from the "Shaping the Constitution" portal, please credit the source of the images using the citations available for each item. For a more detailed explanation of the Library of Congress's copyright policies, visit http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/copyright.html.

Investigate and analyze. The wonderful thing about using primary sources in the classroom is that they allow students to engage with history by using and developing their powers of analysis and inquiry. At the start of an exercise, allow students to examine and study the primary source, making educated guesses about its origins, audience, and purpose. Who is the author? When was it written/printed/painted? Why was it created? Who is the intended audience? This line of questioning also requires students to reference their prior knowledge on the subject.

Engage your students with history! Develop their powers of analysis and inquiry by guiding them to examine and study a historical source. Use these analysis sheets with any historical source to guide their exploration.

ATTACK the Source (Elementary)

You are CLEVER enough to examine a historical source (Middle)

Historical Source Analysis Sheet (Middle)

Historical Source Analysis Sheet (High)

Also see these very useful, resource-specific analysis tools available from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Written Document Analysis Tool

Map Analysis Tool

Cartoon Analysis Tool

Build on inquiry. Once students have had an opportunity to inspect and learn more about the primary source, with guidance from the instructor, they can begin to place it into its proper context, and to ask more questions about its meaning and intent. This is the point at which the instructor can begin to introduce new information or ask students to reflect on prior knowledge. How might the primary source confirm, or conflict with, what they thought they knew about a historical topic? What new insight is gained from this source? "Questions for Consideration" are available for each item; these may be good starting points for your discussions. They can typically be answered by examining the document alone. The other questions—"For Further Discussion"—are designed to be more complex, and also bring into consideration related documents.

Consider using our lesson plans. Each unit includes lesson plans that provide a more detailed outline of activities that can be used in classroom instruction. These often include graphic organizers, vocabulary lists, and other instructional resources. The lessons are correlated to both the Virginia Standards of Learning and the National History Standards, and they apply the "Teaching for Understanding" model for inquiry-based learning. These lesson plans can be modified or expanded to meet the needs of your students.