Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists
After identifying the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, it’s time for the Constitutional Convention and the Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists. I like to use a short text to introduce students to the purpose of the Constitutional Convention and opposing viewpoints. Next, students complete a compare and contrast graphic organizer to analyze the differences between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. If your students are advanced, they can identify the differing viewpoints by listening to the “Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists” podcast from the National Constitution Center.
If you have extra time, you can have students research the framers. Pair up each student with one of the 70 Constitutional Convention attendees. Get the entire list of framers and their brief biographies from the National Archives “Framers of the Constitution.” Have students research their assigned figure and report back to the class on their findings. For a more structured approach to the research process, click here to download a FREE biography summary graphic organizer.
The Great Compromise
It’s important that students understand the purpose for creating the Senate and House of Representatives. To do this, I use a short text and graphic organizer that requires students to explain the Virginia Plan, New Jersey Plan, and Great Compromise. It’s a quick lesson, and it provides students with a solid foundation for learning more about the legislative branch.
I use a step-by-step approach to make sure students understand the purpose and meaning of the Preamble to the US Constitution. First, we complete a close reading of the Preamble. Each reading of the text is described below.
- 1st Reading: Students read the text silently to themselves and underline six purposes of the Constitution.
- 2nd Reading: Students listen as the Preamble is read aloud. While they are listening, students circle 3 unknown words. Students define each of the unknown words (using a dictionary) and sketch a picture in the margin to represent the meaning of each word.
- 3rd Reading: Students read the Preamble with a partner. When students have finished reading, they work together to sketch an image for each purpose of the Preamble they underlined during the first reading. When completed, they should have six total images.