We’re about to cover the Bill of Rights. There’s so much to do with this section. Sure, we’ll make the chart. We’ll go further.

I’ll use The Daily Show to hit up the First Amendment, The Colbert Report to hit up the Second Amendment and The Onion to hit up the Third Amendment.

I have a documentary-style movie which, as it addresses police procedure under extraordinary circumstances and a modified version of the USA PATRIOT Act, will very nicely hit the Fourth through Sixth Amendments.

While the bruhaha over this movie blew over some time ago, I’m wondering about how best I should introduce it in my classroom.

From Wikipedia:

“Death of a President” is a fictional documentary about the assassination of 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush. … The film covers topics of civil disobedience, racial profiling, the reduction of civil liberties, sensationalism and just-war theory.

It’s perfect for due process and freedom of assembly. It’s perfect for self-incrimination and the right to a speedy trial. Is it perfect for my classroom?

It isn’t like we’ve wholeheartedly avoided controversy. Remember which clip I’m using for the First Amendment. That’s already pretty hefty stuff.

Yes, I have approval from my master teacher. We’ll very carefully introduce The N-Word clip with a standard “This is meant to make you think” and the cursory “This does not represent the view of the establishment” and the relevancy-making “What do you understand about the First Amendment, now?”

Will this angle work on a movie about the assassination of the current president? This subject matter is potentially more sensitive. If the official movie blog is to be believed, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D — N. Y.) had this reaction:

I think it’s despicable.

I wonder if she even saw this movie. This movie isn’t about bashing Bush. In fact, most of the characters who are not suspects look up to the guy, nearly idolizing him.

The content is standards-based and, for once, the subject matter will immediately capture the attention of even my seniors. Why am I worrying, then?

Moral of the story? When in irreparable doubt, defer to your gut. What horrible advice.


  1. You’re still student teaching. You’re figuring stuff out. As important as creating the perfect lesson (and it looks like you’ve got some good starts) is the ability to go back, figure out what worked (and why) what didn’t work(and why) and be able to apply that to the next lesson that your create.

    So that doubt you’ve got? Consider it an opportunity to learn something.

  2. I’m more worried about getting fired or something — or whatever they do to bad student teachers — without being given the chance to review my mistakes.

    I’ll just do it, though. It isn’t as if I have an actual contract or anything.

  3. Oh, this should probably go on a post further back, but here‘s a song to help memorize the presidents, along with a video (i think, since my school won’t let me look at that site).

  4. Howabominable (aka Lindsey ^_^)

    If you have permission from your master teacher, I say go for it. It’s either going to be a big hit or a big… well, I doubt you’ll get fired ^_^

  5. I love that link of yours, Mr. K.

    Lindsey: As long as I don’t have to repeat the semester, I’m fine.

  1. 1 You’re Right to Remember Mnemonics « On the Tenure Track

    […] sure to check out more of my tips and tricks for teaching the Bill of Rights. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Understanding the 6th Amendment rightsThe […]

  2. 2 From Porn Trial to Smokey and the Bandit « On the Tenure Track

    […] July 4, 2008 in Reading Response The Bill of Rights is an essential part of most social studies curricula — in California, you could squeeze it in during practically every grade from the eighth on. While mnemonics were probably the most effective part of the unit, by far my favorite activity involving the first ten amendments were my marvelously subversive video clips. […]

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