If you’ve seen one constitution, have you seen them all? Compare and contrast the provisions of the U.S. Constitution alongside the state constitutions of Florida and Virginia. Find common ways in which state constitutions differ from (and are similar to) the U.S. Constitution, and take a closer look at your own state constitution.
Students will be able to:
PREPARE for the lesson by finding a copy of your state constitution (online or paper) and locating the provisions that answer the questions in the Comparison Worksheet. Fill out a copy of the Comparison Worksheet (5 pages) for yourself.
ANTICIPATE by asking the student how many constitutions the United States has. Explain that there is one for the federal government, one for each state, and many counties and local governments have them too!
DISTRIBUTE one Reading & Comparison Activity packet to each student.
READ the first paragraph with the class.
DISPLAY the preamble comparison chart on your overhead projector.
COMPARE the two preambles. Help the class underline the parts that are the same by underlining on your overhead master with a pen.
CONTINUE through the comparison packet in this way, reading and comparing until you have finished the comparison packet. (When comparing the rights each constitution gives to citizens, make sure to help students find the main general differences instead of trying to compare word for word.) Working through this packet models the kinds of things students will look for in the next activity when they will compare their own state constitution with the U.S. Constitution.
DISTRIBUTE one comparison worksheet to each student
PROJECT an online version of your state constitution, starting with the preamble. (If you don’t have projector capability, you might want to cut and paste relevant parts of your state constitution into a document and photocopy it for the students instead of copying the entire document.)
COMPARE your state’s preamble with the U.S. preamble. Have students copy the state preamble onto their worksheets.
CONTINUE through the packet, comparing relevant parts of your state constitution and having students note similarities and differences on the comparison worksheet
FINISH by helping students draw a diagram of your state’s constitutional amendment process on the last page of the packet