You’re Right to Remember Mnemonics
This use of you’re is not a typo.
Mnemonics — little catch phrases that work as memory aids — are a great way to help students memorize things.
These mnemonics are the creation of my master teacher. I take no credit for their merits or flaws.
First Amendment — because it’s first, it’s the most important amendment: speech, expression, religion, assembly, petition for a redress of grievances.
Second Amendment — you have two arms, so this is the right to bear arms.
Third Amendment — three o’s in “quartering trooops.”
Fourth Amendment — four syllables in search-and-sei-zure.
Fifth, Sixth, Seventh Amendments — these have to do with trials, and start with the most important trial rights.
Eighth Amendment — the numeral 8 looks like a hangman’s noose, so “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Ninth and Tenth Amendments — just remember: these deal with unenumerated rights and powers, respectively. Ninth is people, and Tenth is states.
This was just the beginning. Though we would attack each amendment in greater detail, this list of mnemonics worked as our introduction, conclusion and touchstone for the entire judicial branch unit.
The trick with mnemonics, though, is that students will sometimes fail to make the connection between the memory aid — quartering trooops — and the actual knowledge needed — “Troops cannot be quartered in a civilian’s house during peacetime.”
Mnemonics can only be intended as the foundation of knowledge, or to fill in gaps. Students should understand that other knowledge will still be needed, i.e. that the Sixth Amendment gives people lawyers, and the Seventh has to do with civil trials by jury in amounts greater than $20, even though the mnemonic groups those two in with the trial amendments.
Mnemonics are an excellent mortar, or even an excellent foundation, but they cannot replace more complex scaffolding or knowledge.
Be sure to check out more of my tips and tricks for teaching the Bill of Rights.