Teach PA History
Abolish the Office of Governor
Equipment & Supplies
  • Chalkboard/chalk or Overhead projector and transparency

Introduce the lesson by asking students to recall America in the 1700s. Given what they know of the period, what do they think "government" looked like in the 13 colonies?

Write "Constitution" on the board and asking students what this word means with regards to states or nations.
(Accept answers that include the basic rights, principles, laws, and organization of people and government).

Place the following statement on the board or overhead. "This constitution was framed by a convention…. It was not submitted to the people for ratification."

Ask students to discuss this statement and what it might mean to the writers, the enforcers, the citizens.

Next ask where and when they think this may have happened.

Using Background Information for Teachers and The American Revolution, 1765-1783 story and Revolutionary Politics sub-story, offer a brief overview of the political climate of Pennsylvania in 1776.

Distribute copies of the marker Primary Source 1: Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 and Student Worksheet 1: Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 and assign different teams of students to read and discuss different parts of the document. (Use the jigsaw technique to distribute tasks among students and groups).

Have student teams report to the class what they discovered regarding the Constitution. Place the major points on the chalkboard. If students do not report some of the key issues, follow-up with questions (see Teacher Guide 1: Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776.)

Suggest students prepare a list of significant items that would assist them in taking a position on the democratic or un-democratic aspects of the document.
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