Personality and Competency Tests: The Bill of Rights

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Lesson At A Glance

This lesson, which studies the Bill of Rights and the changing interpretations, can take several class periods, as needed, is designed to be the initial lesson in the unit and includes the framework for the rest of the unit.


  • Students will identify and describe the Bill of Rights by creating a “Tree Map” explaining and illustrating each Amendment in their own words.
  • Students will explain from most to least important the four most important rights from two different points of view, their own, and, that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Students will analyze scenarios and explain if any rights were violated and why.
  • Students will discuss scenarios in small groups as well as whole class to better understand the changing interpretations of the Bill of Rights.
  • Students will hypothesize if one of the first ten Amendments was taken away from them, how their lives may change.

Standards Addressed: 

History Social Science

12.2.1 Discuss the meaning and importance of each of the rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights and how each is secured (e.g., freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, petition, privacy).

12.5.1 Understand the changing interpretations of the Bill of Rights over time, including interpretations of the basic freedoms (religion, speech, press, petition, and assembly) articulated in the First Amendment and the due process and equal-protection-of-the-law clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

12.5.4 Explain the controversies that have resulted over changing interpretations of civil rights, including those in Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, and United States v. Virginia (VMI).

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects Grades 11-12  Students

Key Ideas and Details

1. Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7.  Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.

Big Ideas/Essential Questions:

  • What fundamental rights as Americans do we have? What rights do we not have?
  • Can conflict be beneficial to society?
  • Does social capital (i.e., involvement) strengthen a republic?
  • How should government deal with opposing factions that occur in society?


Students will complete the “Are your rights violated?” matrix and answer the following writing prompt:  “What do you think would happen if you woke up in the morning and the 4th Amendment vanished?  How would your life change?

Click here to download the assessment tools.

Activity Steps: (may take several class periods)

Click here to download activity steps.

Purpose  Teacher  Learner


Welcome all of the applicants to the Orientation meeting.

Explain that many clerks of the Supreme Court have gone onto long and prosperous careers.

Inform the students that they will be completing a series of employment tasks to see if they have the right stuff for being a Supreme Court clerk.




Participate in discussions

Read through assignments (GRASPS and Rubrics).


Lead students in creating the “Tree Map” of the Bill of Rights

Introduce “Personality Tests”
  1st-Their personal view
  2nd-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Introduce the Walk-around scenarios.  “Are your rights violated?”

Lead the class going over PowerPoint answers for the scenarios.

Students given the writing test.

Students in partners will create their own “Tree Map” using a copy of the Constitution.

Students will independently complete both of the “Personality Tests”.

Students will complete the “Are your rights violated?” Matrix with a colleague.

Students will “correct” their answers and give Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down. They will participate in the discussion.

Students answer the prompt, “You wake up in the morning and the 4th Amendment has vanished from the Bill of Rights. How would life change for you and other Americans?

Beyond  Give feedback from both personality test and writing “test”.   Reflect and share learning.

Special Needs of students are considered in this lesson:

Students can be paired or provided with accommodations regarding content, technology use, or scaffolding of ideas. Rubrics could be adjusted to ask for one comparison of two countries rather than three for students who may need a shorter but grade level assignment using critical thinking.

Extension Ideas:

Teacher may choose by drawing out of a hat which Amendment would be taken away.


Materials and Resources Needed: 

  • Students need access to placards and PowerPoint. 
  • GRASP and Rubrics need to be distributed to all students.

Student Handouts:

Download student handouts here.

Outline of Unit Plan: 

I Know My Rights!