Course Title: Constitutional Law
Teacher: Brian Finnegan

Content Area: American Studies/ Civics


This class is designed for the purpose of our students learning the basic principals of our democratic system of government. The focus of the course is to analyze our basic constitutional freedoms.

Target Population

Our students are a mix of grade levels and abilities. This class is part of our middle level social studies core academic component. Students must have completed our introductory social studies course, Community, in order to take this class. The class will include both special and general education students.

Goals and Objectives of the Course ( Students will be able to:)

  • Have a basic understanding of how our government works.

  • Appreciate and judge the democratic ideas our nation is based on.

  • Understand and evaluative how our government functions

  • Analyze and offer an informed opinion on various Constitutional Issues.

  • Read and react critically to newspaper articles.

  • Demonstrate good class discussion habits.

  • Asses own work habits.

  • Work more effectively in small groups

Topics and Themes

  • Our Democratic Ideals

  • Governmental Systems

  • Constitution Right to Free Expression

  • Constitution Right to Freedom of Religion

  • Recent Supreme Court Decisions

  • Potential Supreme Court Decisions

Alignment to Standards

This class is designed to meet the New York State standards for Civics, Citizenship , and Government. Students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the basic civic values of American constitutional democracy. We will be looking closely at the roles , rights and responsibilities of American citizens. Students will be required to demonstrate knowledge of the workings of our system of government

Resources and Materials to be Used

Background Resource: You and the Law, Debra Goldentyer, South-Western Publishing

Co. 1993
Street Law, Lee P. Arbetman, Edward L. O'Brien, West Publishing Company. 1990
Various news article from newspapers on the WEB ( New York
Times, Daily News, etc.)
The Oyez Project Northwestern University: Supreme Court

Multimedia Database ( www.oyez.at.nwu.edu)
Various teacher created handouts



The ability to present a convincing argument is the key habit of mind we will look at in this class.. There will be rubrics used to evaluate student development of this vital habit of mind. Self reflection is a vital component of the learning process and will be stressed in this class. Students will be filling out biweekly rubrics which will be designed to have them exam their own progress in the class. The rubrics will focus on the key elements in presenting a persuasive argument. Students will reflect on their ability to support their opinions, to present their points of view clearly to others and be able to defend their viewpoint. There will be periodic individual conferences with students to discuss these rubrics. I will also use several essay tests to judge students ability to argue a legal issue Frequently quizzes will be given to judge student mastery of content Students will be expected by the end of the class to present a well informed persuasive agreement both in writing and orally. The final project in the class will be an individual presentational of a legal argument. Students will also engage in a mock trial activity to demonstrate their understanding of the major concepts of the class.