Constitutional Amendments: Civil Rights and Liberties

By: Amy Samuels



Students will work together using a cooperative group work strategy to develop an understanding of Constitutional Amendments and examine their significance. Students will analyze a series of photographs to decide which amendment is being depicted. Students will then rank the given amendments on a spectrum, deciding, based on their own opinions, which they feel to be the most important and which they feel to be is the least important.

Keywords: constitution amendments civil rights politics minority groups


Students will evaluate the importance of constitutional amendments by examining a series of photographs and ranking the signficance of given amendments.


Analyze the impact of the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th amendments on participation of minority groups in the American political process. (SS.7.C.3.7)


Academic Preparation

This lesson should be completed after learning about the basic characteristics of the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th amendments.
Teacher will need to provide each student with the Amendment Matrix (see attached pdf) and print sets of pictures (3 copies of each) that depict the rights protected by the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th amendments (see attached pdf). Teacher will also need to provide each group with chart paper (one sheet per group).


To begin the lesson, instruct students to respond to the following prompt: Of the following amendments: 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th Amendments, which one do you feel is the most important? Explain.
Have the students discuss their response with a partner. If time allows, discuss several responses in large group.
Explain to students that they will further analyze the aforementioned amendments. Students will be divided into heterogeneous groups of 4 in order to complete the cooperative learning exercise.
Students will be divided into heterogenous groups of 4. Each student will receive a copy of the matrix. Students will receive a copy of a photograph (one at a time). With their group, they will discuss which amendment the picture represents and construct an explanation. After the group finishes with the first photograph, they will go to retrieve another photograph from the teacher. They will continue with this process until all six photographs have been analyzed and their matrix is complete. As the activity draws to a close, each group will present whatever picture they are currently working on to the class. A spokesperson will explain the picture, which amendment they think it represents and why.
Working with the same groups, using chart paper, students will be asked to create a spectrum of the given amendments, ranking them from most important to least important. Groups will debate amongst themselves in an attempt to establish consensus. The final group decision will be displayed on chart paper. Each group will present their spectrum to the class.
To wrap up the activity, instruct students to revisit the introductory question: Of the following amendments: 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th Amendments, which one do you feel is the most important? Explain. Students should write an explanation of whether or not their answer has changed through the completion of the cooperative group activity. Students will also construct an individual spectrum in their notebooks, highlighting any areas where their own personal opinion may differ from their group's consensus.


Students will be assessed for understanding through their completion of the matrix, as well as their response to the spectrum activity.

Estimated Lesson Duration

2hr 00min




File Attachments