Rights and Responsibilities Making the Connection

6, 7, 8

This lesson will examine the connection between the five basic guaranteed rights in the Bill of Rights and their corresponding responsibilities. This lesson will introduce sources of responsibilities and allow students the opportunity to predict consequences of fulfilling or not fulfilling responsibilities connected to their rights.

PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • state possible sources of responsibilities.
  • list responsibilities associated with corresponding rights.
  • predict the consequences of fulfilling or not fulfilling responsibilities.
  • name groups in the independent sector which keep the government accountable to its citizens.
  • Responsibilities at Work in the Community (Handout One) Spanish version (Handout Two)
  • Blank white paper (five sheets per student)
  • Markers

We the People. Calabasas, CA: Center for Civic Education, 1988.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Pose the question, "Are the Constitution and government (structure) enough to protect our rights and welfare?" Let students give their ideas.


  2. Bring forward previous learning from Lessons One and Two by reminding students that the Framers used the Constitution to thoughtfully plan a government structure with limited powers. They also added the Bill of Rights to prevent government from infringing on our rights. Accept all opinions to the question posed, asking students to defend their position. Lead students to the conclusion that we must elect effective leaders and be good citizens who fulfill responsibilities in order to ensure that our rights are protected.

  3. Pose the question, "What is a responsibility, and what are some sources of responsibility?" As students give answers, record them on a chart for future reference. Lead students to realize that a responsibility is a duty or obligation to do something or not do something. Sources of responsibility may come from a job, a promise, laws, citizenship, or moral principles.

  4. Give each student five sheets of blank white paper. Direct them to fold each sheet so they have four squares on each sheet of paper. Direct them to write one of the five rights in the top left square of each paper, making sure that all rights are listed.

  5. Ask students to first reread the banner they created in Lesson Two: The "Right Ideas. Then ask them to think of responsibilities they have (regarding the five basic rights) to treat others and be treated in a way that protects that right. Direct students to write their answers in the top right square of each paper. Once students have been given an adequate amount of think and work time, stop and reflect by asking students to share their answers. This should broaden student thinking.

  6. Tellstudents to use the bottom left square to predict what might happen to the right if the responsibilities are fulfilled. This portion may be represented with words and/or illustrations. Direct students to use the bottom right square to predict what might happen to the right if the responsibilities are not fulfilled. This portion also may be represented with words and/or illustrations.

  7. As a whole group activity and using the telephone book, Internet access or brainstorming, for each page direct students to name one organization in the independent sector (not government or private business) which acts to make sure those guaranteed rights are protected and the government is accountable to its citizens (B'Nai Brith, NAACP, Amnesty International, League of Women Voters, poll watchers, etc.)


Students will complete a pre-arranged interview with a community member, using questions examined during the Instructional Procedure. The teacher, parent volunteers, and/or students may schedule community members to meet students in the classroom to conduct the interviews, which will take approximately a half-hour. (Teacher Note: For ease in soliciting and conducting the interviews, small groups of approximately three students may interview one community member.) Suggestions for community members may include: retail employees, government employees, employees from human service agencies, members of organizations such as Rotary Club, and community volunteers. Prior to the interview, students will use the assessment template Responsibilities at Work in the Community (Attachment One) to predict answers of the person he or she will be interviewing. (Teacher Note: Should the small group format mentioned in the above teacher note be selected, students in the same group could be given the opportunity to collaborate regarding the predicted response column of the assessment.) The teacher may wish to read and discuss these responses with students prior to the interview date.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.14 Describe how citizens can use organizations in the civil society sector to hold people in power accountable for their actions on behalf of the public.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.