Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Which Freedom?

Brenda Heath


This activity allows students to understand the importance of civil liberties and the events that led to inclusion of one of these civil liberties in the U.S.Constitution. Students explore individual responsibilites associated with that freedom.


The student understands the significant political events that took place during the early national period.

The student understands the development of federal civil rights and voting rights since the 1950's and the social and political implications of these events.

The student understands issues of personal concern: the rights and responsibilities of the individual under the U.S. Constitution, the importance of civil liberties, the role of conflict resolution and compromise and issues involving ethical behaviour


-Textbook or other printed document containing a copy of the Constitution
-CDs--electronic encyclopedias


1. The teacher needs to be knowledgeable in the use of computers and the software that will be used for research and production.

2. Teachers may need to prepare students for use of the computers and the software to be used for research.

3. Teachers need to have copies of the Constitution available for each student, should the text not have the entire document.


1. After a study of the writing of the Constitution and its ratification, the class begins a study of the Bill of Rights.

2. Students consider each of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. This is in the text or the teacher provides each student an individual copy from some source.

3. Each student chooses one of the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and researches, using the text and electronic encyclopedias, etc. the following:
a. why it was included in the Constitution
b. the changing views of that freedom over the nation's history
c. an individual's responsibilities relative to that freedom

(NOTE: If students are not familiar with computers and the software being used, the teacher needs to provide appropriate instruction prior to beginning this activity.)

4. Following research, students present their findings in a written document produced with the use of the computer.


The written document concerning freedom should be assessed as follows:
1. Student understands/explains/shows importance of civil liberties:

Exemplary--demonstrates complete understanding; information is accurate; contains no spelling or grammatical errors

Commendable--shows understanding of topic; accurate information; few spelling or grammatical errors

Needs Work--shows lack of understanding of importance of civil liberty; inaccurate information; contains many spelling and grammatical errors

2. Student understands events from the Constitutional period to the present that have affected civil liberties:

Exemplary--Provides a thorough, accurate, sequential description of changes that have occurred in this freedom over time

Commendable--Provides an accurate, sequential description of most changes that have occurred over time

Needs Work--Provides a sketchy description of changes over time

3. Student understands individual rights and responsibilities as related to this civil liberty:

Exemplary--shows clear understanding of the relationship between the rights of an individual and the responsibilities associated with those privileges

Commendable--shows a basic understanding of the relationship between civil rights and responsibilities associated with those privileges

Needs Work--is lacking an understanding of the connection between one's civil rights and civil responsibilities


This could be broken down into just one part for a shorter amount of time or modified to accomodate varying learner abilities.

This could also be used in a Law Studies class.

Web Links

Web supplement for Which Freedom?
Learning Page

Web supplement for Which Freedom?
American Memory

Web supplement for Which Freedom?

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