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Running head: THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

United States Constitution


Chelsea D. Hardy
Missouri Southern State University

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


Introduction
The content of this contextual piece is all based around the United States Constitution.
The pointed covered around the standards are limited government, rule of law, majority rule,
minority rights, separation of powers and checks and balances. The specific standard is
identifying important principles in the Constitution including all the above categories. Through
other literacy standards, I have incorporated vocabulary, comprehension and reading. Use
context (e.g., cause/effect relationships and comparisons in text) as a clue to the meaning of a

word or phrase and Through this contextual piece, I include multiple ways of teaching these core
Constitution categories.
The reason I chose these specific contextual pieces was I thought that each one covered a
wide variety of Constitution information. I feel as if the Constitution is an important content
piece of elementary history so I went with the approach of interactive and enjoyable learning
pieces for the standard. I think that each component of my contextual piece can be used in a
variety of different ways to engage students in learning more information about the Constitution.
I primarily focused on three main parts of the standard separation of powers, rule of law and
limited government. Although all components of the standard are important, this contextual piece
focuses more on those three parts.
Through this contextual piece, students will have a better understanding of the United
States Constitution and how the White House operates. Using these pieces will help students to
have a better understanding of the political figures in Washington D.C. Many of these resources
will be great writing prompts for student papers. With this contextual piece, students will not
only have a better understanding of the United States Constitution standard, but also the
importance of law and their opinions.

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

Content Text Set


Content Area: Social Studies
GLE: 1.5.A.
Identify important principles in the Constitution including
a. limited government
b. rule of law
c. majority rule
d. minority rights
e. separation of powers
f. checks and balances
Childrens picture books
Barnes, P. W., & Barnes, C. S. (1996). House mouse, Senate mouse. Alexandria, VA: Rosebud
Books, Vacation Spot Pub.
This is a story that teaching the students the process in which a bill gets passed. This will help the
students the gauge the process. This will also be a great starting point for a writing assignment
writing a letter to Congress wanting to pass a law.
Barnes, P. W. (2012). Woodrow: The White House mouse. Washington, DC: Little
Patriot Press.
This story teachings students a different side of the constitution, The President. This describes the
jobs and relationships that President must obtain while he is in office. This is a great book for
students to get a closer look at how the United States is run.
Spier, P. (2014). We the people: The Constitution of the United States. Garden
City, NY: Doubleday.
This is a visually appealing story to describe the story of the constitution. This story helps to give
students an understanding of the constitution, and how it is still important in modern day history.
This is a great story for younger elementary students.
Fiction texts
Catrow, D. (2005). We the kids: The preamble of the Constitution of the United
States. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers.

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

This story gives young children a better understanding of what the Constitution actually is. This
book helps to make learning about the Constitution enjoyable and memorable.
Johnson, V. (2014). The great greene heist. New York, NY: Arthur A.
Levine/Scholastic.
This is a great story for upper elementary or middle school age students. It is about a school
council and all the trials and tribulations that come with politics.
Taylor, M. D. (1976). Roll of thunder, hear my cry. New York, NY: Puffin Books.
This is a popular book among many upper elementary and middle school students. This is this
story of a family growing up in Mississippi dealing with racism and the idea of separate but
equal. This is a great story for students to get a better understanding of the lives of families in the
70s.
Graphic novel
Hennessey, J. (2008). The United States Constitution: A graphic adaptation. New
York: Hill and Wang.
This is a great story for student who wouldnt typically pick up a book about the constitution.
This story tells specific details and important facts about the Constitution through graphic
adaptations.
Magazine articles
Elder, L. (2007, July 7). We dont need no stinking Constitution. Time. Retrieved from
http://www.creators.com/opinion/larry-elder/time-magazine-we-don-t-need-no-stinkingconstitution.html
This is a great article for students to understand that as Americans we are entitled to express our
own opinions. This is great for students to better understand the pros and cons of the United
States Constitution.
Stengel, R. (2011, June 23). Cover story: One document, under siege. Time.

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

This is a great article for students to see how the constitution has been a hot topic in many
political conversations. This is a great article for students to read and learn that not everyone how
positive thoughts about the United States Constitution.
Newspaper articles
Michaud, C. (2012, June 13). George Washington US Constitution up for auction.
Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-13/business/sns-rtbillofrights-auctionl1e8hdgru-20120613_1_rare-books-manuscripts-constitution
This will be a great read for students because it is important information that isnt generally heard
about. The article states the interesting facts of when President George Washingtons personal
copy of the Constitution was up for sale.
Pinowski, J. (2013, October 10). Checks and balances: The government shutdown in
perspective. Huff Post College. Retrieved from
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jack-pinkowski/checks-and-balances-the-g_b_4080850.html
This was be a challenging read for students, but if they are interested in Constitution, this will be
a great article for them. This article gives a different insight into what actually is happening when
the government shuts down.
Nonfiction texts
Cheney, L. (2008). We the peope: The story of our Constitution. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
Books for Young Readers.
This is an excellent story for students who are learning about the Constitution. This starts with the
very beginning of the Constitution and how it was written.
Fritz, J. (1989). The great little madison. New York, NY: The Putnam and
Grosset Group.
This is a great story for a student who is wanting to learn more about the beginning years of the
United States. This story states the important facts of becoming a country and how the United
States got to where we are today.

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


Maestro, B. (2008). A more perfect union: The story of our Constitution. New
York, NY: Lathrop, Lee and Shepard Books.
This will be a excellent book for students to read to get a better understanding of how the
constitution was written. This story puts the details of the Constitution into easier vocabulary
terms for students to understand.
Poem
Whitman, W. (1865). O captain! My captain. California. California on My Honor. Pamphlet Sequel to
Drum-Taps. Retrieved from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174742
This is a poem about the death of the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. This is a great poem to
encourage students to critically think about historical figures in the United States history.
Videos
I'm Just a Bill (Schoolhouse Rock!) [Video file]. Retrieved from
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyeJ55o3El0
This is an excellent video to help students visually see the process of how a bill becomes a law.
This video has catchy music that will also help students to remember the process. This is a great
way to engage students at the beginning of a lesson.
Websites
Constitution Fun Zone. Constitution Facts. U.S. Constitution for Kids. Retrieved from
http://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-constitution-kids/
This is a great website for students to navigate from about the Constitution. This has many fact
sheets, word games and even famous quotes.
Constitution Travel Back in History. Congress for Kids. Introduction to the Constitution.
Retrieved from http://www.congressforkids.net/Constitution_index.htm
This is an interactive website that has details about all components of the constitution. This
website will be a great way for students to do research and learn about the Constitution on their
own. This website also has interactive games for students.

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


The Constitution for Kids (4th-7th Grade) - The U.S. Constitution Online
USConstitution.net. Retrieved from http://www.usconstitution.net/constkids4.html
This is a content specific website that will help students better understand the United States
government. This website categorizes many different government topics history, amendments,
slavery, women, The Bill of Rights, and how it all works.

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


Word Sort
Constitution Travel Back in History. Congress for Kids. Introduction to the Constitution.
Retrieved from http://www.congressforkids.net/Constitution_index.htm
Annotation: This is an interactive website that has details about all components of the
constitution. This website will be a great way for students to do research and learn about
the Constitution on their own. This website also has interactive games for students.
GLE: 1.5.A.
Identify important principles in the Constitution including
a. limited government
b. rule of law
c. majority rule
d. minority rights
e. separation of powers
f. checks and balances

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.5.4.A
Use context (e.g., cause/effect relationships and comparisons in text) as a clue to the meaning of
a word or phrase.
Directions: Each group will review the categories provided and into which you will sort the
vocabulary terms/concepts. (For an Open Word Sort, instruct the student teams to suggest
categories for organizing the words.) You will have about 10 minutes to assign the words to the
appropriate categories. We will have a class discussion with each group presenting your word list
for one of the categories. You will be asked to defend your sorting of terms by sharing the
common features of the categories and how each specific term/concept meets the criteria.
First Amendment

Constitution

Freedom of religion

Bill of Rights

Freedom of speech

The Preamble

Freedom of the press

7 Articles

Peaceably to assemble

27 Amendments

Freedom to petition

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


This word sort could be given before students read the story regarding the Constitution. This
would be a way to assess how much the students know about the Constitution prior to learning
about it. After learning about the Constitution, they could do this word sort again as a checking
for understanding assignment.

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THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


Vocabulary Self-Awareness Chart
Constitution Travel Back in History. Congress for Kids. Introduction to the Constitution.
Retrieved from http://www.congressforkids.net/Constitution_index.htm
Annotation: This is an interactive website that has details about all components of the

constitution. This website will be a great way for students to do research and learn about
the Constitution on their own. This website also has interactive games for students.
GLE: 1.5.A.
Identify important principles in the Constitution including
a. limited government
b. rule of law
c. majority rule
d. minority rights
e. separation of powers
f. checks and balances
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.4.5
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word
meanings.
Student Directions:
1. Examine the list of words you have written in the first column
2. Put a + next to each word you know well, and give an accurate example and definition
of the word. Your definition and example must relate to the unit of study.
3. Place a check next to any words for which you can write only a definition or an
example, but not both.
4. Place a ? next to words that are new to you.
5. Add any additional words you feel are important to know or are unfamiliar to you.
You will use this chart throughout the unit. By the end of the unit should have the entire chart
completed. Because you will be revising this chart, write in pencil.
Word
delegate

Founding

+
+

Example
Each state
has many
delegates
which make
up the state
decision of
their people.
Another

Definition
Representatives
for a state.

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THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


fathers

articles
convention
ratified
Supreme
Court
Checks and
balances
committee
amendments
legislatures

name for the


state
delegates.
-

Model the use of this chart to students. This will be a pre assessment for prior knowledge and
this could also be used after student use for checking for understanding. This could also be a way
for students to become more familiar with the vocabulary prior to their website use to better
understand as they are working through the website

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


Graphic Organizer
Constitution Travel Back in History. Congress for Kids. Introduction to the Constitution.
Retrieved from http://www.congressforkids.net/Constitution_index.htm
Annotation: This is an interactive website that has details about all components of the
constitution. This website will be a great way for students to do research and learn about the
Constitution on their own. This website also has interactive games for students.

GLE 1.5.A
Identify important principles in the Constitution including
a. limited government
b. rule of law
c. majority rule
d. minority rights
e. separation of powers
f. checks and balances
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.1
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when
drawing inferences from the text.
Instructions
Browse through the Congress for Kids website. As you are looking through the website, fill in
the missing material in the graphic organizer. Each bubble should have a least one key term or
phrase.

This graphic organizer will help to keep the students on track with the jobs of each branch of
government. When learning about the Constitution, it is important for students to understand
what each branch of government is, what they do and what their job looks like. Through this
graphic organizer, the students will have a clear picture as to what each separation of power is.

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THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

President: carries
out laws,
recommends new
ones, ceremonial
duties, directs
national defense
and foreign policy.

Powers: passing
laws, originating
spending bills,
impeaching
officials, and
approving
treaties.

Headed by
Congress
House of
Representatives
& Senate

Headed by the
President

Executive

Legislative

Branches of
Government

Judicial

Headed by
Supreme Court

Powers:
interpreting the
Constitution,
reviewing laws,
and deciding
cases involving
states rights.

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


Question Answer Relationship (QAR)

APA Reference(s)
The Constitution for Kids (4th-7th Grade) - The U.S. Constitution Online
USConstitution.net. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.usconstitution.net/constkids4.html
Content Standards
Identify important principles in the Constitution including
a. limited government
b. rule of law
c. majority rule
d. minority rights
e. separation of powers
f. checks and balances

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.5
Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution)
of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.

Student directions:
After reading and interpreting the website, fill in the organizer. Use specific details for the
website and make sure to answer all parts of each question.

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15

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


IN THE TEXT
Right There questions (2)
(think who is, where is, list, when
is, how many, when did, name,
what kind of-Remember that the
answer will be in one location in
the text)

Think and Search questions (2)


(require students to "search"
through the entire passage they
read to find information)

Question
1. When was the Constitution written?

Answer
1787

2. Where are the master copies of the


Constitution kept?

National Archives in Washington D.C.

1. Based on the time period, what do you


think caused the Constitution to be
written?

Many country leaders because dissatisfied with


the structure of government. The government was
created by the Articles of Confederation which
had been in effect since 1781.
This act of behavior seemed normal to women.
Farmers had the authority of all decisions.
Women were meant to be housewives at the time
without heard opinions. Women saw this as a
positive because they didnt want their opinions
to be heard. Women believe men knew more than
women did.

2. How do you think women felt about


the Constitution? Was it a positive? Did
they think their displacement of ideas
or values seem normal to them?

IN YOUR HEAD
Author and You questions (1)
(require students to answer with
information not in the text;
however, students must read the
text material to understand what
the question is asking then use the
information from the text and
explain what you know or have
experienced)

On Your Own questions (1)


(can be answered with information
from the students' background
knowledge and do not require
reading the text

1. Based on what you read from the


passage, how would you have changed
the situation at the time? Would you have
created a Constitution? If so, what
changes would you have made to the
Constitution? If not, why wouldnt you
have written the Constitution? What
would you have had in place of the
Constitution? Use information from the
text to support your answer.

1. Name a big decision you had to make


that affects a large amount of people? Did
you ask for other peoples ideas or
opinions? If so, who? What was your
reasoning for making the decision that
you did?

I would have created the Constitution because it


gave an umbrella law that is above all others. The
Constitution addresses all situations so it is
important to have in place. I like the idea that
states got to choose whether or not they adopted
the Constitution. This gave states the freedom of
choice.
OR
I wouldnt have created the Constitution. Instead
of the Constitution for the whole United States I
like the idea of all states be allowed to make
decisions based on what is best for their state.
Each state would have their own Constitution, but
yet we would still be a whole country ruled by
one president.
Sample questions I have played tennis since I
was little. I have one many tournaments and
traveled all around the four state area to compete.
When I entered high school all the coaches and
players wanted me to play, but if I played for the
high school team I wouldnt be allowed to travel
and still compete. I would be a great asset to the
team so it was hard for me to decide what to do. I
asked my mom and dad what their opinion was
based on how they remember feeling in high
school. I ultimately decided to play high school
tennis and Im happy with my decision.

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THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


Rubric for Author and Me (adjust your rubric to match your question)
4
3
2
Student states whether they
Student states whether
Student states whether
would have written the
they would have written
they would have written
Constitution or not. Two
the Constitution or not. At the Constitution or not and
pieces of information from
least one piece of
uses at least one piece of
the text are used to support
information from the text
information from the text
the answer. The student
is used to support the
OR uses background
thoroughly explains their
answer and the student
knowledge/experiences to
reasoning as to why or why
uses some background
support and explain their
they wouldnt have taken part knowledge to further
reasoning.
in the writing of the
explain and support their
Constitution.
answer.
Rubric for On My Own (adjust your rubric to match your question)
4
3
2
Student stated a decision you
The student stated a big
Student presented a
had to make that affects a
decision you had to make
vaguely stated decision
large amount of people. They and provided at least two
and what they decided
explained options and reasons options given by other
with only minimal
given by people involved.
people with an adequate
explanation.
Student states the final
explanation of their final
decision with a thorough
choice.
explanation of their choice.

1
Student states whether they
would have written the
Constitution or not but does
not use information from the
text or personal
knowledge/experience to
support or explain.

1
Student failed to clearly
present a decision. No clear
decision was stated. Student
vaguely responds to the
decision. No explanation
was provided.

When and why I would use this strategy

This would be an awesome activity for students to participate in to help with critical thinking
skills. I would use this organizer at the beginning of a text or unit. This helps the students to
think outside the box and also will help me to understand what the students already know, and
how much effort they put into learning the new information.

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THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


Notetaking
I would use this notetaking outline for to help students understand the important information. I
think students often had difficulty finding important information in a text. This organizer will

help them only find the important pieces from the categories. I would introduce this website and
then use this notetaking organizer as a guide for the students to follow as they browse the
website. If I were to give my students this handout, I would delete all the information in the
boxes and also the specific category in which that information came from. I would want my
students to fill all the details from the website into the organizer.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.1
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when
drawing inferences from the text.

How I would use this:


I would use this to help guide my students with their thoughts. This will help me to
understand what they know and still are struggling with. This is a strategy that can
be modified for many different types of lessons and content areas.

18

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

NAME:

The United States Government


Directions: Visit http://www.usconstitution.net/constkids4.html
Read all seven categories on the website about the United States
government. Following reading, choose three of the seven
categories to write important facts about. Each category should
have three important facts.
Category: The Basics

1. The Constitution can be changed. It can be changed by Amendments.


2. The Constitution states how the Government works.

3. The first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights.

Category: History

1. The Constitution is over 200

years old. It was written is 1787.

2. The original copies are stored


at the National Archives in
Washington D.C.

3. When the Constitution was

written, there were only 13 states


in the U.S.

Category: How it All Works

1. The government is split into

three branches of government,


Legislative, Judicial and Executive.

2. The Senate is made up of 2


Senators from each of the 50
states.

3. The President must agree on all

laws prior to them becoming a law.

19

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


Shared Reading
House Mouse, Senate Mouse

Barnes, P. W., & Barnes, C. S. (1996). House mouse, Senate mouse. Alexandria, VA: Rosebud
Books, Vacation Spot Pub.
Missouri Learning Standards
2.C.4
Describe hose authoritative decisions are made, enforced and interpreted within the state
government.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.1.A
Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which
ideas are logically grouped to support the writer's purpose.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.1.B
Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.

Text
House Mouse, Senate Mouse

Americas mice have a


government too. With
Presidents, Senators and
Congress mice who are
elected debate both the
popular will its a road in
Republic on Capital Hill.
There is a capital there just
like our own. A mouse house
and senate made of column
and stone. Mouse masons and
workers copied every detail
from the tip of the dome,
down to the very last nail.
Then the letter was finished
and heres what it said, Dear
Congress, We think there

Teacher commentary
during think aloud
As I am looking at the cover I
am wondering why the two
mice are shaking hands.
Maybe they are deciding on
something together. Is one
mouse the House and one is
the Senate?
The United States
government is set up just like
the mouse government too.
Do we have a President,
Senators and Congress too?

Strategies
practiced/modeled
Predicting

Who has been to Washington


D.C.? If you have never been,
have you seen pictures of the
White House? Does it look
just like the Mouse House?
Do you see the White House
just like the Mouse House?
Is this a letter that would
typically be looked at by
Congress in the United

Visualizing

Connecting
Questioning

Questioning
Predicting

20

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


should be, if you please, a
law to establish a national
cheese. We like this idea. We
hope it will pass. Yours
Sincerely, Miss Tuftmouses
second grade class.
A copy was rushing across to
the senate, the mousejority
leader, Russell Mouse
Bennett, then Longworth
called Russell as quick as a
blink, a national cheese, well
what do you think? A good
idea the Mousejority leader
said back. Well draw up a
bill and get it on track.

States? As we continue
reading, think about a law
you would like to see pass.

Are these the same steps a


bill would go through if a law
was trying to be passed in the
United State?
1. Congress is introduced the
bill.
2. Both houses of congress
much pass identical versions
of the bill.
3. If the bill is decided on, it
is sent to the other house to
work out any concerns.
4. The Speaker of the House
and the Vice President sign
the bill.
5. The bill is then sent to the
President.
To make a new law, Congress How would a bill be different
starts with a bill. A document in the United States rather
written with care and with
than in the Mouse House? Is
skill, to find the right words,
it the same process for both?
mouse assistance began at the
library of congress and the
books found within.
Next a committee considers
the bill for it just isnt
finished or ready until the
members discuss it, makes
changes and more, then
finally send it along to the
floor.
Thats the floor of each
What makes you think that
chamber, the Senate and
the President, Congressmouse
House thats where each
and Sentator all like this bill
Senator and each
so much?
Congressmouse gets to vote
on the bill, and if enough do,
the President signs it, if he
likes it too.
Some couldnt care less. So
Does this remind you of

Clarifying

Clarifying
Questioning

Predicting
Questioning

Connecting

21

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION


many opinions, such a big
mess. Just when it seemed
that things couldnt get
bleaker, the Mousejority
leader agreed with a
squeaker, to gather the
brightest on capital hill to
figure out how they could
rescue this bill. The Rotunda
was packed, a good place to
meet, when Senator
Thermouse rose to his feet.
The oldest and wisest in
Congress by years, the
squeaker, the leader, the rest
were all ears. Our mouse
founding fathers theyre so
wise, they founded our nation
around compromise. They
wrote it all down in the
Mouse Constitution so after
much thought, I propose a
solution.
We are city mice, country
mice, large mice and small.
We all like many cheeses in
fact, like them all. But we are
Americans first so now if
you please, lets agree that
American is our national
cheese.
Look children, look. Isnt it
grand? We live in a
wonderful wonderful land.

something we have done in


class before? This is like the
discussions and debates we
have in class. This is how it is
done in Washington D.C. All
of our opinions are valuable
so it is important to respect
all of them.

Have you heard me, or the


principal, talk to all of you
like this? When I am telling
you some important
information or dates I always
want all your ears.

Connecting

Their opinions mattered and


were heard even from miles
and miles away. You never
know when your ideas are
going to be good ones so it is
always important to express
them.

Clarifying.

I think this would be a great story for older kids to have a childlike idea of what it looks like at
the White House. Although this isnt exactly the same, it is still very close. This is a great lesson
to teach students about their opinions and how writing and voting to express your thoughts and
ideas mean a lot. This is also a great anticipatory set for a writing assignment. Each student could
think of a school rule they would like to see and then write a letter to their principal.

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

Grade 4

22

Performance Task

United States Constitution


1. Task Overview
2. Classroom Activity
3. Student Tasks: Part 1 & 2
4. Scoring Rubrics
1. Task Overview
20 minutes for classroom activity, 105 for performance task = 125 total minutes
2. Classroom Activity (20 minutes)
Evidence Statement: In order to adequately prepare for the U.S. Constitution constructedresponse questions and performance task, students will:
1. Be introduced to the concept of The United States Constitution.
2. Be engaged in an informational video and classroom read aloud.
3. Be reminded of the qualities of a persuasive letter.
The classroom activity is designed to take place BEFORE Part 1 and Part 2 of the
performance task. The interaction increases students' basic understanding of the topic
addressed in the constructed-response questions and the performance task, helps them
access both assessment stimuli, and prepares students for the kind of thinking and writing
they will be asked to demonstrate in the performance task.
During the classroom activity, the teacher will first introduce the topic of the assessment
and the video stimulus"Im Just a Bill"used in the writing assessment. The teacher will
lead a whole class discussion about lawmaking using examples from the video. Students
may take notes based on their ideas and the ideas of their classmates.
Students may refer to their notes from the classroom activity when they plan, draft, and
revise a multi-paragraph persuasive letter in Part 2.
Student Tasks 1 and 2
Task 1 (35 minutes)
Students will have access to the provided sources and take notes. The students will
then respond to three constructed-response questions.
Task 2 (70 minutes)
Students will have access to the sources they examined in Part 1. They will refer to
their notes and their answers to the constructed-response questions to compose a
full-length persuasive letter. Students cannot change their answers to the
constructed-response questions. They will pre-write, draft, and revise an article.

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23

Scorable products
Students will not generate scorable products during the classroom activity. Student
responses to the constructed-response questions at the end of Part 1 and the letter
completed in Part 2 will be scored. Notes completed in Part 1 and pre-writing and
drafting in Part 2 will not be scored.
Teacher Preparation/Resources Required
Students will need access to the Internet on a computer for the note-taking process
during Part 1. The persuasive letter will be hand written so the students will be plenty of
lined writing paper and sharpened pencils with erasers.
Teacher Directions for the Classroom Activity
Introductory classroom activity
Step 1: Orientation to the Topic
Provide an introduction to the classroom activity by indicating that after this
activity, students will be completing an assessment focused on the topic of
persuasive writing and law making. Write the word persuasive on the board and ask
students what it means. Be sure that students understand that persuading someone
is to encourage them that what you are saying is correct or good. Why do you think
persuading and law making go together?
Ask
Who makes laws?
Can anyone decide on a law?
Can anyone come up with a law and present it to lawmakers?
At this point of the introduction I will introduce the model of R.A.F.T writing. Be
positive the students understand this model of writing for they will be using it to
write their persuasive letter.
R Role of the writer
A Audience to whom youre writing
F Format
T Topic
Step 2: Access the Stimuli
1. Explain, Lets take a closer look at how a bill becomes a law. Show the video Im
Just a Bill (3 minutes 10 seconds).
2. Lead a whole class discussion about how a bill becomes a law. Use the questions
below (10 minutes)
Questions
1. Is the Im Just a Bill video the same as the information you learned from
your Internet resource? What was different? What was the same?

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2. Could ordinary people like you and I write bills? If you were to write a bill
that you hoped would become a law, what would it be?
Step 3: Clarify Expectations of the Writing Task
Say to the class, In just a second, as a class, we are going to read a story that is a
little silly, but describes what it looks like in the White House, or should I say
Mouse House, when a bill is becoming a law. Lets get started and then I will tell
you about our writing assignment after we read the story. Read House Mouse,
Senate Mouse by Barnes.
Ask
1. Did you notice any differences in the law making steps between the Mouse House
and the White House?
Just like in Miss. Tuftmouses class, we are going to write a persuasive letter to
PRINCIPALS NAME, trying to persuade her to pass a new school rule.
Using the information you have from learned from the Internet resource and the
video we just watched, I want you to write a persuasive letter to PRINCIPALS NAME
giving reason as to why she should pass a specific rule of your choice.
Explain to the students what you expect to see in their persuasive letter:
Persuasive Rule Letter

Explains rule clearly


Identifies why the rule is necessary
Is well organized and stays on topic
Uses clear language that suits your purpose
Follows rules of writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation, & capitalization)

Teacher Directions Tasks 1 & 2


Task 1 (35 minutes)

Students should receive all the necessary information for completing the task directions, website
URL, notetaking template and any other materials related to the topic. Constructed-response
questions and notetaking template should both be given in Task 1 notetaking first, constructed
response second.
1. Initiate the testing session.
2. Alert the students when there are 15 minutes in Part 1.
3. Alert the students when there are 5 minutes in Part 1.
4. Have students write their name on their notetaking template and constructed response
questions.
5. Have students log off their computer and turn in their two assignments (notes and
constructed response).

STRETCH BREAK Utilize Energizers

Task 2 (70 minutes)


1. Initiate the testing Task 2.

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25

2. Allow students to use any notes or materials they would like in order to
provide and appropriate persuasive letter for the principal. The students will
not be allowed to change the answer to their constructed response.
3. Once 15 minutes as elapsed, suggest to the students begin writing their
persuasive letter.
4. Alert the students when there is 30 minutes remaining.
5. Alert the students when there is 15 minutes remaining and suggest they
begin revising their letter.
6. Close the testing session.
Students Directions for Parts 1 & 2
Part 1 (35 minutes)
Your Task
You will read an website article and watch a video over the United States government and
the Constitution. As you are reading over the website, you will take notes using a given
template. Following the notetaking process, you will answer three questions over what you
learned from the website. In Part 2, you will write a persuasive letter to PRINCIPALS
NAME presenting a new school rule.
Steps to follow
In order to plan and write your persuasive letter, you will do the following:
1. Examine the two sources.
2. Take notes about the information from the sources.
3. Answer three questions about the source.
Directions for beginning
You will now examine an online source and a video. Using the given template, take notes
over both sources. You will want to refer to your notes when answering your constructed
response questions, but your notes will not be scored. You can re-read the online source
and watch the Im Just a Bill video as often as you would like.

26

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NOTES

Source 1: The U.S. Constitution Website


Paragraph Title

The Basics

History

Amendments

Slavery

Women

The Bill of Rights

How it all Works

NOTE: Your notes will not be scored

Important Information

27

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NOTES

Source 1: Im Just a Bill (video)


Terms

NOTE: Your notes will not be scored

Example

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28

Research Questions
After examining the research sources, use the remaining time in Part 1 to answer three
questions about them.
Your answers to these questions will be scored. Also, your answers will help you
think about the research sources you have read and viewed, which should help you
have a better idea of what to write to PRINCIPALS NAME in your persuasive letter.
You may click on the resource tabs on your Internet browser to refer back to the article and
video when you think they would be helpful. You may also refer to your notes. Answer the
questions in the spaces provided below them.
1. Describe the Constitution based on the article source, U.S. Constitution. Use
details from the article to support your answer.
2. Identify the major components of a bill. Describe a fictitious bill and summarize
the process in which it would take for it to become a law. Use specific terms and
evidence from the sources to support your answer.
3. In the video Im Just a Bill the law making process is described in great detail.
Use the information from the two sources to compare and contrast the information
given.
Part 2
You will now have 70 minutes to review your notes and sources, plan, draft, and revise
your letter. You may use your notes and refer to the sources. Remember the past
information we learned about writing persuasive letters. You may also refer to the answers
you wrote to the questions in Part 1, but you cannot change those answers. Now read your
assignment and the information about how your letter will be scored; then begin your
work.
Your Assignment
PRINCIPALS NAME would like to read of a potential school rule or policy and reasoning as
to why it should become one. She has asked you to write a persuasive letter explaining the
school rule or policy, the purpose for it, and why it would benefit the students, faculty or
staff.
In your Letter
Choose one school rule or policy you would like to see implemented. In your letter you will
state your purposed rule or policy, explain the purpose of the rule or policy, and how it
benefits the students, faculty and/or school. Be sure to use all the components of a
purposed bill or rule/policy that you learned from your sources.

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29

Now begin working on your letter. Manage your time carefully so that you can:

Plan your letter


Write your letter
Revise and edit for a final draft of your letter

Word-processing tools and spell check are available to you.


Type your response in the space provided. Write as long as a letter as you fill in necessary
to meet the requirements of the task; you are not limited by the size of the response area
on the screen.
REMEMBER: A well-written persuasive letter:
Explains rule clearly
Identifies why the rule is necessary
Is well organized and stays on topic
Uses clear language that suits your purpose
Follows rules of writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation, & capitalization)
Source Information:
Stimulus #1
Read article about the United States Constitution.
The Constitution for Kids (4th-7th Grade) - The U.S. Constitution Online
USConstitution.net. Retrieved from http://www.usconstitution.net/constkids4.html
Stimulus #2
Now watch this video about how a bill becomes a law.
I'm Just a Bill (Schoolhouse Rock!). Retrieved from
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyeJ55o3El0
Stimulus #3
Read House Mouse Senate Mouse to introduce the topic of writing a bill.
Barnes, P. W., & Barnes, C. S. (1996). House mouse, Senate mouse. Alexandria, VA: Rosebud
Books, Vacation Spot Pub.
3. Scoring Rubrics
Scoring Information for Questions

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Question 1.
2-point Research (Grades 4-5)
Evaluate information/Sources Rubric (Claim 4, Target 3)
The response gives sufficient evidence for the article source to describe the U.S.
Constitution.
2

The response includes specific detailed information from the article about the
Constitution. The information should be found in the article, rather than the
student answering with prior knowledge. The response is supported with
relevant details from the text.
The response gives limited evidence for the article source to describe the U.S.
Constitution.

The response includes limited detailed information from the article about the
Constitution. The information should be found in the article, rather than the
student answering with prior knowledge. The response is supported with
limited relevant details from the text.
A response gets no credit if it provides no evidence from the source, but rather
only prior knowledge.

The response does not include any details from the article about the
Constitution. The response does not include relevant details and may be vague,
incorrect, or completely absent.

Question 1, Sample 2-Point Response:


The information in the article tells about many details regarding the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution splits our government into three separate branches, each having
their own jobs. The Bill of Rights are the first 10 amendments that protect many of our
freedoms as American citizens. Amendments are parts of the Constitution that can be
changes or modified. Now what we call the Bill of Rights were the first 10 changed
amendments to the Constitution.
Question 1, Sample 1-Point Response:
The information in the article tells about many details regarding the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution splits our government into three separate branches, each having
their own jobs. The Bill of Rights are the first 10 amendments that protect many of our
freedoms as American citizens. The Constitution is important for Americans freedom.
Question 1, Sample 0-Point Response:
The Constitution is a very interesting document.

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

Question 2.
2-point Research (Grades 4-5)
Interpret & Integrate Information Rubric (Claim 4, Target 2)
The response gives sufficient evidence for the article of the ability to compare
and contrast the information in the two sources.
2

The response includes specific details from each source to compare and
contrast. The information provided is supported with relevant details from the
video and article.
The response gives limited evidence for the article of the ability to compare and
contrast the information in the two sources.
The response includes limited details from each source to compare and
contrast. The information provided is supported with limited relevant details
from the video and article.
A response gets no credit if it provides no evidence from the source to compare
and contrast.
The response does not include compared and contrasted information from each
source. The response does not include relevant details may be vague, incorrect,
or completely absent.

Question 2, Sample 2-Point Response:


A bill must have a specific reason and clear purpose. The bill needs to use specific
information or importance as to why it should become a law. My fictitious bill is that
the speed limits should be 45 mph in town except in school zones. I think this law
would help me to be on time places. The bill will first be introduced. Then the bill will
be handed to the clerk of the House, then all must agree in the Senate. The bill will be
referred to the appropriate committee, the bill will be voted on and then members of
each house will conference about it. The bill is then sent to the President to review.
Once the President signs my bill, it will become a law!
Question 2, Sample 1-Point Response:
A bill must have a specific reason and clear purpose. The bill needs to use specific
information or importance as to why it should become a law. My fictitious bill is that
the speed limits should be 45 mph in town except in school zones. I think this law
would help me to be on time places. The bill will first be introduced. The bill travels
through the White House and eventually will be sent to the President to review. Once
the President signs my bill, it will become a law!
Question 2, Sample 0-Point Response:
Bills are future laws in the United States.

31

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32

Question 3.
2-point Research (Grades 4-5)
Interpret & Integrate Information Rubric (Claim 4, Target 2)
The response gives sufficient evidence for the article source to describe the
components of a bill.
2

The response includes specific detailed about a fictitious bill. The response
clearly states the process in how the bill will become a law. The response uses
terms and evidence from the sources to support their answer.
The response gives limited evidence for the article source to describe the
components of a bill.
The response includes limited detailed about a fictitious bill. The information is
vague and limited about the process in which that bill would become a law. The
response is supported with limited relevant terms or details from the text.
A response gets no credit if it provides no evidence from the source, but rather
only prior knowledge.
The response does not include the components of a bill. The response does not
include relevant details or terms and may be vague, incorrect, or completely
absent about a fictitious bill.

Question 3, Sample 2-Point Response:


A bill goes through a long process prior to becoming a law. In the video the law-making
process is described by first a resident calling a local congressman proposing a bill.
The bill then goes to committee where congressmen debate on whether the bill should
become a law or not. Most bills dont get far enough to make it to committee. Once
committee decides, the bill then goes to the House of Representatives to vote. Then it
goes to the senate and the whole thing starts over again. If the bill is voted yes on in
the senate, then it goes to the White House to be signed by the President. If the
President signs then the bill will be a law. In the article, it talks more about the
Constitution. The Constitution is made up of Amendments that keep our country
running smoothly. This is a document that was decided on hundreds of years ago so
everyone has something to reference.
Question 3, Sample 1-Point Response:
A bill goes through a long process prior to becoming a law. In the video the law-making
process is described by first a resident calling a local congressman proposing a bill.
The bill then goes to committee where congressmen debate on whether the bill should
become a law or not. If the President signs then the bill will be a law. In the article, it
talks more about the Constitution. The Constitution is made up of Amendments that
keep our country running smoothly.
Question 3, Sample 0-Point Response:
The two sources gave information about our government.

33

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

Score

The response is fully


sustained and
consistently and
purposefully focused:

Statement of Purpose/Focus and Organization

controlling idea
or main idea of
a rule/policy is
clearly stated,
focused, and
strongly
maintained
controlling idea
or main idea of
a rule/policy is
introduced and
communicated
clearly within
the purpose,
audience, and
task

The response has a clear


and effective
organizational structure
creating a sense of unity
and completeness:

logical
progression of
ideas from
beginning to
end
effective
introduction
and conclusion
for audience
and purpose
correct letter
format

4-Point
Persuasive Letter
Performance Task Writing Rubric (Grade 4-5)
3
2

The response is adequately


sustained and generally
focused:

controlling idea or
main idea of a
rule/policy is
clear and mostly
maintained,
though some
loosely related
material may be
present
some context for
the controlling
idea or main idea
of the topic is
adequate within
the purpose,
audience, and
task

The response has an


evident organizational
structure and a sense of
completeness, though
there may be minor flaws
and details may be limited:

adequate use of
transitional
strategies with
some variety to
clarify the
relationships
between and
among ideas
adequate
progression of
ideas from
beginning to end
adequate
introduction and
conclusion

The response is
somewhat sustained and
may have a minor drift in
focus:

may be clearly
focused on the
controlling or
main idea, but is
insufficiently
sustained, or
controlling idea
or main idea
may be unclear
and/or
somewhat
unfocused

The response has an


inconsistent
organizational structure,
and flaws are evident:

inconsistent use
of transitional
strategies
and/or little
variety
uneven
progression of
ideas from
beginning to end
conclusion and
introduction, if
present, are
weak

The response may be


related to the topic but
may provide little or no
focus:

may be very
brief
may have a
major drift
focus may be
confusing or
ambiguous

The response has little


or no discernible
organizational
structure:

few or no
transitional
strategies are
evident
frequent
extraneous
ideas may
intrude

NS

Insufficient,
illegible, in a
language other than
English, incoherent,
off-topic, or offpurpose writing

34

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

Score

The response provides


thorough and
convincing
support/evidence for
the controlling idea or
main idea that
includes the effective
use of sources, facts,
and details:

Evidence Elaboration

use of
evidence
from sources
is integrated,
comprehensi
ve, and
relevant
effective use
of a variety
of
elaborative
techniques

The response clearly


and effectively
expresses ideas, using
precise language:

use of
academic
and domainspecific
vocabulary is
clearly
appropriate
for the
audience and
purpose

4-Point
Persuasive Letter
Performance Task Writing Rubric (Grade 4-5)
3
2

The response provides


adequate support/evidence
for the controlling idea or
main idea that includes the
use of sources, facts, and
details:

some evidence from


sources is included,
though it may be
general or imprecise
adequate use of
some elaborative
techniques

The response adequately


expresses ideas, employing a
mix of precise with more
general language:

use of domainspecific vocabulary


is generally
appropriate for the
audience and
purpose

The response provides


uneven, cursory
support/evidence for the
controlling idea or main
idea that includes partial
or uneven use of sources,
facts, and details:

evidence from
sources is
weakly
integrated, and
citations, if
present, are
uneven
weak or uneven
use of
elaborative
techniques

The response expresses


ideas unevenly, using
simplistic language:

use of
evidence from
the source
material is
minimal,
absent,
incorrect, or
irrelevant

The responses
expression of ideas is
vague, lacks clarity, or
is confusing:

use of domainspecific
vocabulary that
may at times be
inappropriate for
the audience
and purpose

The response provides


minimal
support/evidence for
the controlling idea or
main idea that includes
little or no use of
sources, facts, and
details:

uses limited
language or
domainspecific
vocabulary
may have
little sense of
audience and
purpose

NS

Insufficient,
illegible, in a
language other than
English, incoherent,
off-topic, or offpurpose writing

35

THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

Conventions

Score

2-Point
Persuasive Letter
Performance Task Writing Rubric (Grades 4-5)
2
1

The response demonstrates an adequate


command of conventions:

errors in usage and sentence


formation may be present, but no
systematic pattern of errors is
displayed and meaning is not
obscured
adequate use of punctuation,
capitalization, and spelling

The response demonstrates a partial


command of conventions:

errors in usage may obscure


meaning
inconsistent use of punctuation,
capitalization, and spelling

NS

Insufficient, illegible, in a language


other than English, incoherent, offtopic, or off- purpose writing