American History & Civics Academies Print E-mail
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Overview of the Academies
  • 2-week program
  • 51 teachers and 102 students from around the country
  • Well-known history and civics scholars
  • 8 experienced mentor/teachers from around the country
  • 4 content topics
  • Field trips to National Park Service historical sites
  • Culminating simulated congressional hearings on content topics
  • Students will assist participating teachers in implementing lessons and other activities in their classrooms when they return to their schools
Overview of the Academy Sequence

Day 1            Arrival

Content Topic 1: The philosophical and historical foundations of the American political system and the creation of the U.S. Constitution, e.g., classical republicanism; the natural rights philosophy including such principles and values as popular sovereignty, political equality, individual rights and the common good; constitutionalism and the rule of law; majority rule and minority rights and federalism. Historical documents to be addressed would include Magna Carta, the Petition of Right of 1628, the Bill of Rights of 1689, the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, selected early state constitutions, the Virginia Plan, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the Federalist.

Day 2, 3 & 4 will be based on this topic and include scholar discussions, mentor discussions/model lessons and a field trip to a topic appropriate site.

Topic 2: Changes in the U.S. Constitutional system that have furthered the ideals contained in its Preamble and the Declaration of Independence, e.g., the establishment of and impact of judicial review, the emergence of political parties, the Civil War Amendments, the impact of the interpretation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Brown v. Board of Education, and the impact of Amendments 16, 19, 24, and 25.

Days 5, 6 & 7 will be based on this topic and include scholar discussions, mentor discussions/model lessons and a field trip to a topic appropriate site.

Topic 3: The impact of the values and principles in the Constitution and its Preamble on American governmental institutions and practices, e.g., the role and functions of Congress in the American constitutional system, the role of the president in the American constitutional system and the expansion of presidential power, the role of the Supreme Court in the American constitutional system and the expansion of its powers. Historical documents to be addressed would include the Federalist; the U. S. Constitution; the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1871, 1875, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1991, among others.

Days 8, 9 &10 will be based on this topic and include scholar discussions, mentor discussions/model lessons and a field trip to a topic appropriate site.
 
Topic 4:  Rights protected by the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments, e.g, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, the right to due process of law, the right to the equal protection of the law, the right to vote and hold public office, and the right to political equality. Historical documents to be addressed would include the Constitution and its amendments, landmark Supreme Court cases such as Everson v Board of Education, Employment Division v Smith (1990), Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v City of Hialeah (1993), among others.

Days 11, 12 & 13 will be based on this topic and include scholar discussions, mentor discussions/model lessons and a field trip to a topic appropriate site.

Day 14          Wrap-up and departure

This will include a presentation of the simulated hearing, discussion on resources available—including additional videos, a forum, and the various options for a “project” (deliverable) the teachers and student will be expected to do (and how to send it to us). This project or deliverable may include—but is not limited to:

Teachers:
  • Conduct a simulated hearing in their classroom
  • Adapt lessons and activities from the summer institute for their own classrooms
  • Provide aid to students who participated in the summer institute in their presentations
Students: 
  • Participate in the We the People program or National History Day
  • Prepare a PowerPoint presentation to share with class on the most interesting aspect of the Academy
  • Prepare a presentation to share with the administration of the school and others at a school board meeting or a Parent Teacher Association meeting 
  • Help their teacher prepare their classmates to take part in a congressional hearing