Civics Lessons

Teaching Standard: Structure and Function of Government

No Hats in Class

Students learn about the importance of rules and laws; what makes a good law

This is Our Town Too: The Jury Process

In this lesson students learn about the process of voir dire and the use of peremptory challenges. Through the study of three actual Supreme Court cases, students gain background information for a classroom lesson.

Perdante v. Dalton Academy

Case developed for the 2013 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament: Civil Case
The plaintiff, a member of an up-and-coming high-school mock-trial team, alleges that the defendant, a rival school, made defamatory statements about the plaintiff in the defendant’s online newspaper.

Voting and the Constitution

Students will learn about the Constitution’s many provisions for voting, including how votes affect the makeup of the government and its branches. The lesson and lesson extensions will have students engage in activities and participate in discussions about how officials are chosen in the three branches of government and how the election process includes the Electoral College.

People of New Michigan v. Thomas Osiski

Case developed for the 2012 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament: Criminal Case-Murder

What Makes an Amendment?

Students will learn about the process of amending the Constitution. They will review the details of the amendment process and discuss its pros and cons. In class activities, assignments, and the Lesson Extensions, student partners and groups will create persuasive presentations that they will share with the class to gain support for an amendment.

People v. Alex Johnson

Case developed for the 2010 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament
Criminal Case-Murder of high school student

To Amend or Not to Amend, That’s Been the Question…Many Times

This lesson asks students to examine recent proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution, analyze them for public policy triggering mechanisms, and compare and contrast them to amendments that have been ratified.

Participating in the Jury System

Students participate in activities and discussions about the relationship of a democratic society to its legal institutions, and the issues of fairness and equality under the law and legal system. They learn how constitutional amendments such as the Fourteenth Amendment influence lawsuits, and they will apply concepts within the Bill of Rights to jury trials. Students conduct research to compare the U.S. jury trial system to trial systems in other countries.

Voting in Congress

Students learn what factors members of Congress consider when deciding whether to vote for a bill. These include the powers given to Congress by the Constitution, members’ personal opinions, political party support, and what voters think. During the first day of the lesson, students find out about each of these factors. During the second day, students get to try their hand at weighing the factors by considering hypothetical bills.