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Lesson Plans

Teacher Professional Development

Teacher Professional Development

Constitutional History in the Classroom: A Collaborative Teacher Professional Development Program

Constitutional History in the Classroom: A Collaborative Teacher Professional Development Program is a history-rich professional development program that enables teachers to develop a strong substantive knowledge of the origins and evolution of, and contemporary debates over, the United States Constitution, and helps them model and develop rigorous classroom materials on constitutional history that their students will find intellectually engaging.

To do this, the Constitutional History in the Classroom Program brings together pedagogy experts, practicing teachers, educational resource providers, museum and cultural site educators, and leading scholars and subject matter experts to offer teachers the best possible professional development opportunities. The key institutional supporters of the Project are the Institute for Constitutional History at the New-York Historical Society and the George Washington University Law School (ICH), The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource), and The New York University Steinhardt School of Education Social Studies Program.

Program Model: How it Works

The Constitutional History in the Classroom Project has been operating in New York City for the last four years. The target audience includes middle and high school teachers in public, private, and charter schools. There is also interest in reaching home schooling populations.

The project launched in April 2014 at the New-York Historical Society with a “Teach-In on the Constitution,” featuring United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Eric Foner, Linda Greenhouse, the former New York Times Supreme Court Reporter, and Professor Sanford Levinson of the University of Texas Law School. These substantive lectures were followed by a pedagogical workshop led by NYU Professor Robert Cohen and others from NYU’s Social Studies Program on how to use the historical and legal content discussed in the earlier sessions to develop innovative, exciting classroom materials. More than 400 teachers attended the launch event.

Subsequent programs included workshops with Larry Kramer, Robert Post, Sanford and Cynthia Levinson, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Richard Bernstein, Melvyn Urofsky, Linda Kerber and other leading scholars.

Each major substantive lecture was followed by an intensive discussion of pedagogy and a review of available existing resources created by some of the nation’s leading civic education resource providers, including both ConSource and the New-York Historical Society. To round out the program, the New-York Historical Society’s museum education team was also able to help educators further enhance their classroom resources with museum artifacts and other resources of particular value to New York teachers.

During each professional development program, educators receive the following:

  • A session on an important moment or moments in United States history presented using the text of the Constitution as a framework for discussion and analysis.
  • A session on available primary source documents for discussing and analyzing an important moment in U.S. Constitutional history.
  • A session on how to develop new and access expertly created pedagogical resources that use the text of the Constitution as a framework for analyzing and understanding U.S. history and government.
  • Teachers all receive a book written by the presenting scholar(s) on the topic(s) covered during the session.

If you’re interested in participating, please email info@consource.org.