Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Rights and Responsibilities
Unit of 4 lessons

Unit Overview:

This unit addresses the value of our rights and explores the responsibilities citizens must fulfill in order to protect their rights. Students often have misconceptions as to the true meaning and value of “rights.” Through active participation and many opportunities for reflective thought, learners will come to understand the origin and meaning of their rights in a personal and intellectual way. Examination of responsibilities associated with these rights, including the responsibility to promote the common welfare, is also a key component of this unit. The teacher, volunteers, and/or students will need to arrange interviews with community members in preparation for Lesson Three. Consideration of the common welfare will lead to the experiential component of this unit in which the learner will create a poster illustrating ways of fulfilling the responsibilities associated with the rights, benefits, and well-being of all.

Unit Purpose:

Learners will examine the origin and types of rights guaranteed to us by the Bill of Rights, as well as the responsibilities we have to protect those rights for our personal well-being and the common welfare. Finally, the focus will be upon understanding and valuing those rights by promoting the common welfare as an involved citizen.

Unit Objectives:

The learner will:

  • explain the purpose of the Constitution and the Preamble to the Constitution.
  • identify the Bill of Rights as the origin of our guaranteed rights and explain why it was added to the Constitution.
  • describe the social contract between cities and their government and give an example of how nonprofit organizations and their government carry out this contract.
  • identify and describe five rights guaranteed to citizens in the Bill of Rights.
  • evaluate whether desired actions are constitutionally guaranteed rights.
  • state reasons for protecting guaranteed rights.
  • explain and defend views regarding reasonable limits for guaranteed rights.
  • describe the role of nonprofit organizations in preserving and promoting guaranteed rights.
  • describe sources of responsibilities.
  • list responsibilities associated with corresponding rights.
  • predict the consequences of fulfilling or not fulfilling responsibilities.
  • identify ways of fulfilling responsibilities to protect the rights of all and promote the common welfare through voluntary action.
  • demonstrate how the guaranteed rights in the Bill of Rights promote the common welfare.

Service Experience:

Although lessons in this unit contain service project examples, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.

Students will have the opportunity to use their time and talent in the school community by creating posters, during the assessment of Lesson Four: Promoting the Common Welfare, which illustrate ways in which guaranteed rights ensure the well-being of all people. On their own time, outside of class, each group will arrange a meeting with the principal, assistant principal, school counselor, or student leadership council to present their poster. When presenting the poster, students will explain the poster, ask permission to display it, and describe the purpose and importance of displaying the poster for the student body.

Unit Assessment:

The unit assessment contains three parts which require higher level thinking and responses from students. In the first part, the student must identify one of the five basic guaranteed rights from a written description. In the second part, students must decide whether or not an action is protected by a guaranteed right as well as recall important ideas regarding founding documents. Finally, in part three, students must construct a written response regarding a right and associated responsibilities, and then take a stand regarding the right to vote. A point value for each part is not given. Teachers may decide how they wish to evaluate the assessment. Equal or "weighted" value may be assigned to the three parts of the assessment

School/Home Connection:

This activity, included in Lesson Two: The "Right" Ideas, is intended to provide an opportunity for students to reflect upon and apply their understanding of rights. This activity has two parts. The first part will encourage dialogue between parents and students, reinforcing the learning which took place in class. Part two will provide students an authentic opportunity to defend a personal action they believe to be a right, convincing their parents that it relates to a guaranteed right in the Bill of Rights.

Notes for Teaching:

The Instructional Procedure of the lessons in this unit emphasizes the use of cooperative grouping as a predominant approach. Teachers can alter this approach, yet maintain the content necessary for teaching the concepts. The assessments in the lessons also rely on student collaboration and teacher involvement as the learners acquire a firm grasp of the objectives. The final unit assessment provides the opportunity for individual assessment of learning.

State Curriculum and Philanthropy Theme Frameworks:

See individual lessons for benchmark detail.

Lessons Developed By:

Lisa Ludwig
Cedar Springs Public Schools
Cedar Springs Middle School
204 E Muskegon St
Cedar Springs, MI 49319

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