Constitutions are important because they outline what governments can and cannot do. Many American teachers like to emphasize the importance of the United States Constitution, but at the same time they are indirectly under-emphasizing the importance of the states’ constitutions. This article will help teachers in the state of Oregon to create valuable lesson plans that they can use to teach their students about Oregon’s Constitution.
– Your students will first need to understand the Constitution first. It’s easy to access the Constitution because most state governments have websites providing the full document online. You will find a link to Oregon’s Constitution in the Sources section of this article. Your students should study the Constitution at home, and write any questions down. They should bring their questions to class and you can discuss the document together. If you have access to a projector, you can connect it to a laptop and you can project the full document onto the board. This way, your students will not have to print out the whole document. You will be able to save lots of paper!
– Once you have finished discussing the Constitution’s legal language, you can then create some connections with other state constitutions and even with the federal constitution. Look for some differences and similarities, and ask why there are differences. What makes each state’s constitution unique? Why is each state able to create its own constitution? How difficult is it to amend Oregon’s Constitution? This last question will require a bit more research, but it is a perfect activity for high school students and teachers who would like to assign a research project or essays.
– With your students, look for some current events that relate to Oregon’s Constitution. For instance, how does the proposal of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act rest with the Constitution? What provisions may allow this act to go through? Go through all of the articles and their sections and then go through some newspapers, websites, and magazines that may address some issues or topics outlined in the Constitution.
– Once you are almost finished teaching your students about your state’s constitution, then you can have them write an essay about why it is important to learn about their state’s constitution. What have they learned through this experience? This would be a great “closing” activity that helps your students recognize their state’s constitution’s relevancy to their lives.