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Citizenship in the United States: Lesson Plan for Constitution Day 2019


A recent Gallup poll suggests that a record 27% of U.S. American citizens believe immigration is the most important issue we as a country face. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution outlines what we call “birthrightcitizenship,” which has sparked much debate as of late. Those not born in the United States or its territories can apply for citizenship, and part of this process involves passing a citizenship test that many birthright citizens could not likely pass.

In this lesson, students will examine the history of ratifying the Constitution, the addition of the Bill of Rights, assess their own Constitutional knowledge by answering Constitution-specific questions  from the current citizenship test, and read/discuss recent news stories and opinion pieces about the great citizenship debate.


  • Students will ascertain why some states debated the initial ratification of the Constitution.
  • Students will test their own knowledge of the Constitution by answering questions that appear on the current citizenship test.
  • Students will critique recent news stories and op-eds about the current debate surrounding citizenship and immigration. 

Common Core State Standards the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas. various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain. information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.


90 minutes

Document for handout: CSDAY2019 (PDF)

Materials / resources

Links to stories provided on the second page of the document: 


Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 — 30 minutes

Distribute the handout for the students and explain that they are to follow each portion from 1-7-8-7 — ask them to pause before beginning the last 7. Note: Encourage them to answer the questions on their own first (without the aid of classmates or other resources).

Step 2 — 45 minutes

Ask the students to read one or two of the articles (time permitting) by visiting the links provided. Encourage them to take notes about the content of the article, perspectives presented, references to the Constitution and its amendments, and potential biases they can identify.

Step 3 — 45 minutes

Discuss articles the students read, and then encourage them to read the remaining articles. You may add extra time for further discussion.

Ask students to locate additional articles for discussion. Journalism advisers: encourage your staff to brainstorm/explore the issue of citizenship in future coverage.


Students who may not have studied this material previously may be encouraged to use textbooks or the Internet to answer the questions on the first page of the activity. In addition, you may wish to divide students into small groups to read one article each and then summarize it for the class.

For past Constitution Day materials, go here.

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