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Learn About the Preamble: Constitution Webquest for Middle School

written by: Elizabeth Wistrom • edited by: Jonathan Wylie • updated: 9/19/2014

In this Webquest for the Constitution, students will learn about the document's intent as it is laid out in the Preamble. Using what they have learned, they will prove that the intentions of the Founding Fathers have, in fact, come to fruition. Read on to learn more.

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    Start From a Base of Knowledge

    Before beginning this WebQuest for the Constitution, it is important that the students all have basic background knowledge of the Preamble Constitution, including when it was drafted, who the major players were and the events which led up to its inception . Students will demonstrate their understanding of the Preamble by identifying modern-day programs or services which exemplify the different parts of the introduction.

    The Constitution is an amazing document! Drafted over 200 years ago, the United States Constitution has become a model for countries around the world. The basic tenets of the Constitution have remained virtually unchanged since its inception. These tenets are laid out in its Preamble. Just what are they? With this Webquest for the Constitution, you will find out!

    The United States Supreme Court is charged with the responsibility of interpreting the intent of the Constitution, and while individuals have quarreled over these interpretations, historically, they have not questioned the wisdom of its underlying principles. That is...until today.

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    Task

    For this Webquest, you will assume roles of constitutional lawyers. A group of citizens is suing the government with the notion that the Constitution is a failure, because it has not lived up to the intent of its original drafters. They believe the Constitution should be scrapped, and that our government should start over by drafting a new version. Your job will be to demonstrate that the Constitution has been a success, as evidenced by modern-day examples of the goals set forth in the Preamble. Your argument - that the Constitution has done exactly what it set out to do in the Preamble - will be presented in written form to the Judge (aka the classroom teacher!) If he/she agrees that your examples prove the Constitution has been a success, you will win summary judgment on your case! Good luck!

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    Process

    1. What is the role of a constitutional lawyer?

    2. Spend some time reading about why the Constitution was created. Consider the following as you do:

    • What were the weakness of the Articles of Confederation which the Founding Fathers were attempting to address with the Constitution?
    • The words "pursuit of happiness" from the Declaration of Independence are often cited as a reason for citizens to engage in misdoings. Why is this logic misguided and in direct conflict with the intent of the Constitution?
    • If you had to choose one word to represent the motivation behind the Pilgrims journey to the New World, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the drafting of the Constitution, what would that word be and why?

    3. What is the definition of the word Preamble?

    4. Next, you will want to see exactly which principles are laid out by the US Constitution.

    5. As you read about the Preamble, begin to generate a list of modern-day examples for each of the principles addressed in the text.

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    Evaluation

    Your written legal argument will be scored according to the following:

    • You have included an introduction to your argument which grabs the attention of the reader. (3 points)
    • You clearly identify each of the main goals of the Constitution, as put forth in the Preamble. (6 points)
    • You provide examples of modern-day programs or services which demonstrate that these goals are, in fact, being met. (18 points)
    • You have included a conclusion to your argument which summarizes the points you are trying to make and supports the argument that the Constitution has been successful in its intent. (3 points)
    • You use appropriate writing conventions. (3 points)
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    Conclusion

    The Constitution has been described as a "living document." Why is this important to the creators original intent? What parts of the Constitution prove that it is, indeed, a "living document"?