Constitutional Amendments and Democratic Rights


US History The U.S. Constitution Constitutional Amendments and Democratic Rights
Students learn the process for changing, or amending, the Constitution. Then they explore Amendments 11 through 17. They describe some amendments related to the election process, explain what the prohibition amendments tell us about the process for changing amendments, and develop a timeline of amendments granting or expanding individual rights. Finally, they explain which amendments since the Bill of Rights they think have had the greatest impact on life in the United States.

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Overview

In this experience, students learn the process for changing, or amending, the Constitution. Then they explore Amendments 11 through 17. They describe some amendments related to the election process, explain what the prohibition amendments tell us about the process for changing amendments, and develop a timeline of amendments granting or expanding individual rights. Finally, they explain which amendments since the Bill of Rights they think have had the greatest impact on life in the United States.

Objectives:

  • Explain how and why the Constitution can be amended.
  • Summarize how later amendments expanded democratic rights.


A document written over two hundred years ago, the U.S. Constitution has remained central to American government and society. Yet the need to make changes in the Constitution has arisen from time to time. 

In this experience, you will learn the process for changing, or amending, the Constitution. Then you’ll explore some of the amendments that have been added since the Bill of Rights, Amendments 11 through 17. You’ll describe some amendments related to the election process, explain what the prohibition amendments tell us about the process for changing amendments, and develop a timeline of amendments granting or expanding individual rights. Finally, you’ll explain which amendments since the Bill of Rights you think have had the greatest impact on life in the United States.

Objectives:

  • Explain how and why the Constitution can be amended.
  • Summarize how later amendments expanded democratic rights.




The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights


Three years after the U.S. Constitution was ratified, the first 10 amendments, or Bill of Rights, were added in 1791. 


How many amendments do you think the Constitution has, including the Bill of Rights?

A) None
B) 7
C) 17
D) 27
E) 107

Some amendments changed how leaders were elected and the structure of government, but most of the changes have granted or protected individual rights and freedoms. 


In a word or phrase, name one change that occurred because of an amendment passed after the Bill of Rights.

Post your answer

Most students will mention the abolition of slavery, civil rights for former slaves, or voting rights for African-Americans, women, or 18-year-olds.

Let students know they’ll explore these amendments in more detail in this lesson. 


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