Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Do I Have a Right?

Bill of Rights

Susan McHale, Jessica Hightower | Published: May 26th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 8th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course U.S. Government
  • Time Frame Time Frame 3-4 class period(s)
  • Duration More 135 minutes


Students will spend time exploring the Bill of Rights from the US Constitution. They will determine what each right guarantees, the reason behind the right being included in the Constitution, and examples of how the right has been protected since the amendment was written. They will demonstrate their learning through playing the game, “Do I Have a Right? Bill of Rights edition,” as well as through group presentations.

Essential Question(s)

What value do people place on individual rights?



Students are given a letter that states an alien nation has invaded and conquered the United States. Per the alien nation, the students are only allowed to keep two of their US Constitutional rights as outlined in the Bill of Rights. Each student also chooses the two he/she feels are most valuable.


In groups of three, students are assigned one of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. In their groups they research what the personal right that is covered in the amendment protects, the reason behind the right being included in the Constitution, and the application of the right in society through the use of US government court cases.


Groups present their findings from the explore section to the class.


Students play the game "Do I Have a Right?" in which they pair potential clients with the appropriate Constitutional rights lawyer based on their situation.


Students are asked to reevaluate their choices at the beginning of the lesson in the engage piece. Would they keep the same two rights or change them? Students must give an explanation for their choice.


  • Letter from Alien Nation (attached)

  • Post-It notes

  • Whiteboard/Smartboard

  • Computers/Laptops with Internet access for each student

  • Copies of the Bill of Rights (included in Teacher Resources)

  • Copies of Modified Bill of Rights (included in Teacher Resources)

  • Bill of Rights Notes Chart (attached)

  • Presentation Rubric (attached)


Give each student an attached Letter from Alien Nation stating that they have colonized Earth and are now in control. The letter explains that, due to the recent power exchange, the US constituents are now under a different governing body and are to choose only two of the rights given to them under the US Constitution to keep.

Instruct students to rank the amendments listed at the bottom of the letter in accordance with which they deem most valuable to them. Next, ask students to place the number of EACH of their top two amendments on TWO separate sticky notes. On a wall or a whiteboard, instruct students to build a Sticky Bars Graph to share their choices.

Students will place their post-it notes into a bar graph to represent their choice in top two amendments. The purpose of Post-It Graphs is to have a visual representation of the class’ decision. From the posted graph, ask students which rights the majority of students chose as their top two and why they think these were selected. This graph will be revisited later in the lesson so be sure to leave it up throughout the activity.


Depending on class size, break students into ten groups (groups of three would be ideal). Assign each group one of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution

Explain that each group will be researching the amendment assigned. Assign each member of the group a role::

  1. One student will research what the amendment actually says and the rights that are guaranteed by their amendment.

  2. The second student will research the reason the Founding Fathers decided to include a Constitutional amendment that protects that right. Have them focus specifically on what happened to the colonists that deemed writing an amendment a necessity.

  3. The third student will research the amendment in the present day. Answering these questions: How has the amendment’s definition changed over time? What are examples in society that show the amendment in action? Students will need to include one example of a court case that involved their amendment. (For example, Tinker vs. Des Moines. See resources for links to websites with more examples.)

A Presentation Rubric is attached and provided for expectations of the findings and presentation. Be sure to explain the expectations prior to students beginning their research,


Pass out the attached Bill of Rights Notes Chart to each student first.

Ask each group of students to present their findings to the class. Based on the availability of resources at your site, allow students to choose a Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi, or any other digital media form. Presentations can also be done using traditional presentation board means. Use the provided rubric to grade presentations as they are presented orally.

As each group presents, instruct students in the audience to take notes on the provided notes chart or on their own paper answering these questions 1) What does it say? 2) Why was it written? 3) What is an example of what it protects?


Now that students are familiar with each of the ten amendments, tell them that they will show their knowledge through playing a game. Students will need another day of student internet access. Have students play the game "Do I Have a Right? Bill of Rights Edition," found in the embedded link.

In this game, students take on the role of a Constitutional rights lawyer and are asked to pair potential clients with the correct lawyer based on a given scenario. In some instances, the client’s issue or problem may not be covered by the Bill of Rights and it is up to the student to make the correct decision.

The goal of the game is to correctly pair clients, and see through their "cases" in order to build the students law firm. Allow students to play the game until they have earned enough "prestige" to grow and develop their law firms. Visually evaluate student progress by walking around the room and assessing their growth.


As a wrap up activity, ask students to think back to the Engage section in which they selected two rights they valued the most. Now that they have a better understanding of the rights that are covered by the Bill of Rights and how they might apply to individual problems, ask students whether or not they would change their top two rights?

Have students write an Exit Ticket that explains what two rights they originally chose to keep, whether or not they would still choose the same two, and their reasoning behind their decisions. Have students provide evidence from their research with their reasoning.

Students may also write a letter to the alien nation describing the two most important rights to keep, why they are important, and their application to individual freedoms. They will also describe how it will best protect people during this time of transition and takeover

The presentation, the notes chart, and the exit ticket or letter can all serve as assessments.