Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 5-12, students use BrainPOP resources, include the game Do I Have a Right? to explore constitutional law and citizens’ rights. Students learn to identify whether a constitutional right is being violated and then match a legal right to the constitutional amendment that protects it.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Identify whether a constitutional right is being violated in a described legal dispute.
  2. Match a given legal right to the constitutional amendment that protects it.
  3. Plan strategically and sequence tasks during game play.
  4. Apply and practice informational text reading skills.

Materials:

  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard

Preparation:

This lesson plan features a game called Do I Have a Right? developed by our partner,  iCivics.  In the game, students run a law firm that specializes in constitutional law. Clients bring complaints, and students identify if they “have a right.” As students successfully resolve cases by matching them with the correct attorneys, their law firm grows along with the skills of their lawyers.

Review the Game Guide for step by step directions on how to play the game. Then, preview and play Do I Have a Right? to plan how you will adapt it to your students’ needs. If students will be playing in small groups, review tips on Setting Cooperative Gaming Expectations.

For ideas on how to use SnapThought with this game and for specific prompts to provide students with during game play, see Do I Have a Right?: SnapThought Prompts.

Build background knowledge or reinforce topics with these BrainPOP movies: Bill of RightsU.S. ConstitutionCivil RightsScopes Monkey TrialMiranda Rights, and Women’s Suffrage

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask students what rights we have as American citizens? Have students explore this question in a think-pair-share activity or reflect in a quick write. Have volunteers share their answers and record them on the whiteboard for everyone to see.
  2. Show the BrainPOP movie U.S. Constitution to the whole class. Have students listen for how their rights are associated to the Constitution.
  3. After the movie, redirect students' attention to the list of rights they brainstormed before the movie. Discuss which rights are in fact protected by the Constitution. Add and delete the rights on the list as the class discusses. Ask students to define 'amendments' and how the amendments in place have affected the rights of citizens.
  4. Ask students what people can do if they believe the government is violating a constitutional right? Guide them to understand that there are attorneys who specialize in one or more specific amendments and citizens can hire attorneys to take a case before a court.
  5. Display Do I Have a Right? on the whiteboard and tell students in this game, they will run a virtual law firm.  Then display the game guide, and review how to play.
  6. Now have students play the game individually or in pairs at their own computers for at least 20 minutes. Circulate as students play, listening in to their discussions and decision-making, providing support as needed.
  7. If students have individual logins through My BrainPOP, encourage them to use the SnapThought® tool to take snapshots during gameplay. Review Do I Have a Right?: SnapThought Prompts for suggested prompts.
  8. After students have completed at least one trial, debrief on their game play experience. Ask: What was the goal of your law firm? Why can’t any attorney help any client? What is the purpose of amendments? What would happen if there were no amendments? What would happen if individual rights were not protected? 
  9. As students spend more time with the game, challenge them to meet specific goals and earn Achievements, such as Rain Maker (complete a game without losing a single case), Prestige Partner (help more than 25 clients discover their rights), or Fully Staffed (hire a team of six lawyers).
  10. After students have played the game, come back together as a class to discuss their experience. You can use the following questions to prompt discussion:  
    • How did you decide which lawyers to hire?
    • How did you determine whether the client’s rights had been violated or not?
    • Which case did you find most challenging? Why?
    • Which amendment would you want to specialize in and why?

Extension Activities:

Have students play an offline version of the game Do I Have a Right? Make your classroom the law firm. Assign some students to the role of lawyer. Have other students play the clients and help them come up with cases in which one of their rights have been violated. Allow time for them to play.