What values, virtues, and principles can knit together ‘We the People’ of the United States of America?

Last week, Rachel Davison Humphries, Director of Outreach at the Bill of Rights Institute, joined the Illinois Civic Hub (ICH) to lead a webinar for educators focusing on Theme Three of Educating for American Democracy (EAD) Roadmap– “We the People”. Rachel demonstrated how the plethora of resources provided by the Bill of Rights Institute can address the EAD question, “What values, virtues, and principles can knit together ‘We the People’ of the United States of America?”

The Bill of Rights Institute, as well as the Illinois Civics Hub, are EAD Champion Organizations. As champions, we:

…stand in agreement that K–12 education plays a pivotal role in ensuring the next generation is prepared to strengthen and sustain our constitutional democracy. These organizations support the EAD approach and the collective, cross-ideological expertise that has informed the resources put forth towards achieving this goal.

The Bill of Rights Institute (BRI) provides free resources and professional development to educators across the nation. Since its founding, the Institute has published over 4000 resources, including hundreds of YouTube videos and current events lessons for middle and high school classrooms. All of its resources are designed to drive students to the United States Constitution and Founding documents as the foundation of their analysis of American history and current events. 

Rachel’s passion for civics and constitutional knowledge was evident in the online workshop as she highlighted dozens of resources from BRI that are well suited to meet the Illinois Civics course requirements in grades 6-8 and 9-12. If you missed the webinar, you can access a recording on the ICH Webinar Archives.

BRI resources highlighted included:

  • Principles and Virtues Resource defines founding principles and civic virtues.
  • Heroes and Villains uses narratives to discuss the concepts of civic virtue in all classrooms. Topics range from Alice Paul and perseverance to Benedict Arnold and treason. Each virtue narrative includes corresponding discussion guides, journal templates, a toolbox with additional activities, and suggestions for further reading on each topic or virtue.
  • Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness is BRI’s free online U.S. History resource for high school students designed to meet the course needs of a yearlong U.S. History or AP U.S. History, class.
  • BRI’s lesson Civil Disobedience Across Time has students identify how natural law can be interpreted as the citizen’s duty to correct an injustice by comparing Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech as practical interpretations of the natural law ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
  • BRI’s Teacher Badging Program promotes deeper learning.
  • BRI’s timely e-lesson, Security vs. Privacy in the Digital Age, explores the conflict between the FBI and Apple over the fate of an encrypted iPhone.

Educators looking for more inspiration on how to address the EAD Theme of “We the People” can access a diverse set of resources on the EAD website using the Educator Resources tab. The growing set of tools on this site can be sorted by theme, grade level, resource type, and more. 

The Illinois Civics Professional Calendar for fall features free after-school PD from the News Literacy Project, the Stanford History Education Group, and Dr. Steven D. Schwinn from the UIC School of Law. A description for each webinar and information to register for professional development credits through the DuPage Regional Office of Education is available on the Illinois Civics Hub Professional Development Calendar.