The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Constitution Day

Today was Constitution Day, or, rather, today was the day that Constitution Day was observed in schools throughout the United States. I am sad to report that it took looking up this website to figure out why Constitution Day is when it is. (Several of my students were right, incidentally. I just hadn’t really thought about it before I was asked.)

After doing a brief math review lesson, we spent the entire morning discussing the U.S. Constitution, although I had actually only expected us to spend an hour at most!

I started off by popping in my special edition DVD of School House Rock to share the awesome episode on the Preamble:

After watching the video a couple of times so everyone could really hear the words, I wrote the text of the Preamble on the board and read it aloud a few times. Several students decided to write it down and several others wanted to memorise it. I am not sure how many were successful in doing so, but I think it’d be pretty cool if they did. Then I divided the class into six groups and assigned each group an Article of the Constitution to read and summarise. (The last group was given Articles VI and VII because they are both pretty short.) I was glad that I just happened to have six copies of the U.S. founding documents tucked away in a corner in the classroom.

We then spent the remainder of the morning drafting our own class constitution, starting with the Preamble. I suggested that we use the U.S. Constitution as our guide. We went through the individual phrases and the class voted on the changes they wanted to make. By the end, we had something that was good, but about a third of the class said it wasn’t great, so they wanted to tweak it some more. Unfortunately, that was about the time lunch started, so we had to break. We’ll continue on this on Tuesday, though.

Here’s what they have so far:

We, the Class, in order to form a more perfect community, establish fairness, maintain peace, prevent aggressive behavior, ensure everyone’s happiness*, and secure the blessings of peace for ourselves and from now on* do ordain and establish this Constitution of Room 31 at Flossie Wiley Elementary School.

* Indicates phrases that still need to be tweaked.

Even before we had drafted the Articles for our Constitution, I had students asking about political parties, laws, and elections. I think I am going to let this take its natural course and see where it leads us. It all fits in perfectly with our social studies curriculum, although it is a bit out of order. I’m not worried, though; we have plenty of time to learn about explorers and early American history. For now, we’ll focus on the aspect of forming a government that we will use to govern our own class.

Anyway, it has been a long week and a long day. I’m definitely looking forward to my weekend! See you all on Monday!

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