Author: Emily Farris, Texas Christian University
Constitution Day takes place this year on Thursday, September 17; it serves as the day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787.
Constitution Day happens to fall early in the semester when I’m already covering the Constitution in my Introduction to American Politics classes—talk about convenient timing!
Universities celebrate Constitution Day in a variety of ways, and there are many resources online to draw from. In fact, Cengage hosted Constitution Day webinars with our Political Science authors, with recordings available to watch on demand.
Using online resources, here’s a few more ways to explore the Constitution more in your classes.
Start with a Scavenger Hunt
To begin, ask students to watch this video on how the Constitution ended up in the National Archives. Students can also “go inside” the vaults at the National Archives and check out some of their rarer documents.
In my class, I discuss with students the ways we tend to glorify the Founding Era documents and Framers. Rather than lecturing through the articles of the Constitution, I design a “scavenger hunt” for students to partner up and find the answers. This provides a hands-on approach to the Constitution. I particularly like the scavenger hunt through cartoons designed by the U.S. archives.
Propose an Amendment
I end my discussion of the U.S. Constitution by talking about the amendment process. This fun animated video from the National Archives offers a good overview of how we amend the Constitution, through the proposal and ratification process.
To view the Constitution as a political document for today’s times, I encourage students to think about how it fares today. One option is to have students read and respond to Dr. Jennifer Victor’s post on which parts of the Constitution aged least well or think about what amendments they might propose.
I also have my students read this blog post by Dr. Julie Novkov and propose their own amendments via in-class discussion.