Western Reserve Public Media

About Constitution Challenge

Western Reserve Public Media’s program Constitution Challenge was created by a team of teachers from school districts in our service area. It is directed at Grades 5 and 8 and is keyed to both social studies and language arts standards for those grades. The format of the program is a game show, with both students and “the man on the street” trying to answer questions. This format is carried through on the Web site, with PowerPoint games available on Constitution topics. There is also a hotlist of sites available to assist students with projects from the lesson plans.

How to Use This Package
The components of the Constitution Challenge multi-media package are listed below. These components, which include videos, a teacher guide, games and a Web site, have been designed for use as either stand-alone educational tools or as a complete package.

It is our hope that teachers will use the components however they fit into their classroom structure. All of the lessons are keyed to social studies and/or the language arts content standards. Ideally, there could be some collaboration between the social studies and the language arts teachers in teaching this curriculum.

Package Contents
Instructional Videos
The following four 10-minute videos are included in this package.

  1. The Constitution deals with the structure and the history of the Constitution, including the factors leading up to the Constitutional Convention, information about the Founding Fathers and details about the content of the Constitution.

  2. Checks and Balances looks at the three branches of government — executive, legislative and judicial — and how each of these plays a role in making and enforcing the laws of our country. The concept of checks and balances is stressed.

  3. The Bill of Rights and the Amendments looks at the rights and responsibilities given to us by these documents. Each amendment is looked at, but major emphasis is given to the first and fifth amendments.

  4. Federalism shows the differences among the federal, state and local governments, and outlines each level’s responsibilities.

Lesson Plans
There are both social studies and language arts lesson plans for each video. The teacher guide is divided into the following six sections.

  1. Introduction
    The items found in this section provide background information and introductory lessons related to the Constitution. Constitution Day activities found at the beginning of the section offer one-day activities for seven different subject areas, including math, music and physical education. A vocabulary list offers a convenient reference source for government terminology.

    Common Core Standards — Introductory Lessons

  2. The Constitution
    A PowerPoint presentation provides information to help students understand how the Constitution was formed. There are also resource pages that describe common misconceptions regarding the Constitution and compare governments of early America. Lesson plans offer instruction on the following topics:

    • The making of the Constitution
    • Problems facing the Confederacy under the Articles of Confederation
    • Key contributors to the creation of the Constitution
    • Preamble vocabulary, synonyms, antonyms and analogies
    • Understanding the meaning of the preamble
    • The slavery issue

    Common Core Standards — The Constitution

  3. Checks and Balances
    This section includes a PowerPoint presentation about the structure of American government, a graphic organizer that describes the Constitution’s checks and balances and a lesson plan for writing a persuasive essay.

    Common Core Standards — Checks and Balances

  4. Bill of Rights and the Amendments
    To help students learn about the Bill of Rights, this section includes a PowerPoint presentation and accompanying resource page. Three lesson plans help students learn the contents of the Bill of Rights and understand its amendments.

    Common Core Standards — Bill of Rights and the Amendments

  5. Federalism
    A PowerPoint presentation and accompanying resource page give information about federalism and taxation. Three lesson plans provide instruction about the following:

    • Representative democracy and the concept of bicameralism
    • Basic roles of the federal, state and local governments
    • Comparing job functions of the federal government with school governance

    Since the videos deal with a contest, this section also includes a game that students can play in small groups or as a class. The game is a good review of the concepts required by the standards.

    Common Core Standards — Federalism

  6. Appendix
    The appendix outlines the subject standards that Constitution Challenge satisfies, plus it offers Web resources including the following items:

    • The Constitution Challenge Web site contains the complete teacher guide in a PDF format.
    • All of the PowerPoint presentations that are described in the teacher guide
    • The Constitution Challenge games, as well as several other games
    • A hotlist of Web sites pertaining to the lesson plans


Project Coordinator
Maria Mastromatteo, Western Reserve Public Media

Teacher Design Team

  • Cathy Page Adler, Ravenna City School District
  • Jeremy Garver Hughes, Kent City School District
  • Ric Hughes, Retired from Ravenna City School District
  • Toni Stevens, Rootstown Local School District
  • Jay Wise, Copley-Fairlawn School District

Diane St
einert, Western Reserve Public Media

Teacher Guide Layout and Design
Paula Kritz, Western Reserve Public Media

Produced by Western Reserve Public Media (WNEO/WEAO, Youngstown/Akron, Ohio)

Executive Producer
Maria Mastromatteo, Western Reserve Public Media

Duilio Mariola, Western Reserve Public Media

Duilio Mariola, Western Reserve Public Media

Larry Chance, Chance Productions

Layout and Design
Paula Kritz, Western Reserve Public Media

Constitution Expert
Lee Ann Potter, Director of Education and Volunteer Programs, National Archives

For the complete list of sources used in creating these materials, please visit the Constitution Challenge Web site.

This series was funded by the Ohio Legislature through the eTech Ohio Commission.

Copyright©2006, Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio, Inc. All rights reserved.