Each year, educational institutions across the country honor the signing of the United States Constitution with special programming about the iconic document and its signing on Sept. 17, 1787, as well as the meaning of citizenship today.

The St. Mary’s University School of Law has developed a program to connect Texas educators with the resources they need to fulfill the federal mandate requiring education on the topic during the week of Sept. 17. The video below is a key component of the Constitution Day program and can be shown during classes and lectures.

Federal guidelines

Image of the US Constitution

Federal law requires, “Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.” See: Public Law 108-447, div. J, § 111(b), 18 Stat. 2809, 3344-45 (Dec. 8, 2004).

The U.S. Department of Education reads the law to require the program within a week of Constitution Day, particularly if Sept. 17 is not a working day. See: 70 Fed. Reg. 29727 (May 24, 2005). Any public or private school not in compliance may lose access to federal education funds.

The School of Law has prepared a statewide program to assist schools in complying with Constitution Day and Citizenship Day requirements. Our website will stream a video you may show in your classroom or assembly. The video is just under 11 minutes long.

Thank you for participating in the St. Mary’s University School of Law’s Constitution Day and Citizenship Day project. The collection of lesson plans, activities, essay topics and links below are intended to help you prepare quickly for a successful class experience and have been aggregated from a variety of sources.

When conducting your Constitution Day presentation, please use our student roll sheet so that we may better gauge the impact of this project. Download it here: Constitution Day Participant Roll Sheet.

You may submit the roll sheet via email or mail:
St. Mary’s University School of Law
Office of the Dean
One Camino Santa Maria
San Antonio, TX 78228-9923

Lesson Plan: Formation of the Constitution

This lesson focuses on the drafting of the United States Constitution during the Federal
Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia. Students will analyze an unidentified historical document
and draw conclusions about what this document was for, who created it and why. After the
document is identified as George Washington’s annotated copy of the Committee of Style’s draft
constitution, students will compare its text to that of an earlier draft by the Committee of Detail
to understand the evolution of the final document. Source: The Library of Congress

Materials Needed:

Lesson Plan: Constitutional Structure

In this lesson, students will study the Constitution from three perspectives, examining its structure, content and underlying philosophy. After skimming and making inferences about the Constitution, students will focus on the separate articles: their purpose, content and underlying ideas. Next, they will jigsaw into new groups and brief each other on their articles. Finally, they will work individually to analyze constitutional principles and locate relevant sections within the Constitution. Source: The Bill of Rights Institute

Materials Needed:

Lesson Plan: Living Document vs. Original Intent

This lesson plan teaches students how interpretations of the Constitution vary. Many people — judges, legal scholars, political leaders and citizens — disagree about the best way
to interpret the different provisions in the Constitution. Source: Street Law, Inc.

Materials Needed:

Lesson Plan: The Idea of Rights

In this lesson, students will examine a copy of 12 possible amendments to the United States
Constitution as originally sent to the states for their ratification in September of 1789. Students will debate and vote on which of these amendments they would ratify and compare their resulting “Bill of Rights” to the 10 amendments ratified by 10 states that have since been known by this name. Source: The Library of Congress

Materials Needed:

In-class Activity

Essay Topics

Additional Resources

Resources for Schools
Back to top