“We the People is a fantastic program for giving students a voice of their own. I love watching them form their own opinions throughout the program and have the opportunity to debate their opinions in a controlled setting. The culminating congressional hearing is a lot of work, but my students love showing off their knowledge. It is frequently a “favorite thing” of their 5th grade year.”
We the People
About We the People
The Citizen and the Constitution is an instructional program for high, middle, and elementary school students which teaches the history and principles of the American constitutional democracy while enhancing students’ understanding of government. Students discover the contemporary relevance of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at the same time. The program is based on materials developed by the Center for Civic Education and is nationally acclaimed by educators. We the People is aligned to the Indiana Academic Standards for Social Studies and English Language Arts.
We the People has a built-in authentic performance assessment: simulated congressional hearings. The simulated hearings allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate, take, and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues.
Format of Simulated Congressional Hearings
Students act as expert witnesses and “testify” their constitutional knowledge in the format of simulated congressional hearings. A volunteer judging panel, comprised of constitutional scholars, attorneys, judges, local officials, teachers, and policymakers, evaluate students’ responses.
A class is divided into six groups, based on the six units of the curriculum. Each group typically has 3-6 students, depending on the size of the class. Each group works collaboratively to prepare answers to all the questions for the unit. Students review materials in the We the People textbook and research other materials, preparing a response to the question for each unit and to get ready to answer follow up questions related to the initial question.
Hearing (10 minutes per question)
Groups of students orally respond to questions for four minutes. The judging panel asks students follow-up questions and students respond for six minutes. The judging panel members assess the prepared oral presentation and the responses to the follow-up questions using a scoring rubric.
The Impact of the We the People Program
Aspen Meadow Elementary School
“This is the most engaging and effective program related to civic education there is. It is authentic, student centered, rigorous, and rewarding. It will change your teaching career for the better.”
Franklin Central High School, Indianapolis
“My students benefit by gaining practical skills, like research, presenting, and group work. Beyond that, and more importantly, they have gained an appreciation of the Constitution that is uncommon. This is one of the most rewarding classes to teach. The competition itself is the best assessment I have experienced for any class that I’ve taught.”
Covenant Christian School, Indianapolis
“We the People has been a confidence booster for many of my students. It has also benefited them by exposing them to a university campus and meeting influential people from our community. They feel a great sense of pride when they complete it.”
Willowcreek Middle School, Portage