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Virginia Constitution, 1776,

George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and others

Virginia signed its first constitution in 1776 upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Since that time, there have been frequent amendments and six major revisions to the constitution: 1830, 1851, 1864, 1870, 1902, and 1971. Our current…

Draft Virginia Constitution, 1776,

Thomas Jefferson

Virginia signed its first constitution, drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1776 upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Since that time, there have been frequent amendments and six major revisions to the constitution: 1830, 1851, 1864, 1870,…

Monticello Classroom,

Thomas Jefferson Foundation

The Monticello Classroom offers extensive information about Thomas Jefferson, Virginia history, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and other important aspects surrounding the founding of the United States. The website also allows visitors to log in and create projects, design lesson plans, or do homework. It also features fun information, such as why Thomas Jefferson is on the nickel, and how to make ice cream the colonial way.

Public Agenda: Helping Americans Explore Today's Issues,

Public Agenda

This website provides a wealth of up-to-date coverage of current issues, from America's role in the international community to Social Security. A large section for educators includes resources for teachers, students, parents, and leaders. Topics such as the rising cost of college tuition are particularly relevant for those involved in education. While there are limited resources specifically aimed at Virginia, the broader issues covered by the website can easily be oriented to fit discussions about their specific application on the state and local level.

The Supreme Court of Virginia: A Moot Court,

Cliff Gold

Individual liberties and public interest are at stake in two Virginia court cases engaged in this moot court: Rudolph v. Commonwealth (2009) and Cost v. Commonwealth (2008). Students will think about and analyze the decisions of the Virginia Court of…

Thomas Jefferson Center on Free Expression,

Thomas Jefferson Center

The Thomas Jefferson Center, in Charlottesville, Va., is an organization that promotes freedom of speech through legal cases, education, and the arts. The website offers podcasts, such as Thomas Madison Lives. Another key feature is legal briefs from Thomas Jefferson Center cases, including Commonwealth of Virginia v. Black. This 26-page court document may seem intimidating, but the language is accessible to the general reader. The case addresses whether burning a cross on someone’s lawn can be punishable as a form of intimidation, or if cross burning is a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

Justice Learning: Lesson Plans for Current Issues,

NPR's Justice Talking and The New York Times Learning Network

Justice Learning provides lesson plans and classroom activities on a wide range of issues. Each issue challenges students to think about complex issues, such as free speech in classrooms. Some exercises encourage students to deal with more difficult issues, such as cross burning and free speech or capital punishment and juvenile offenders. Each issue challenges one to think within a national, state, local, or classroom context. At the end of each lesson plan, there is a list of “Other Information on the Web.” Researchers on any topics covered on the website may find these links a good jumping-off point for their studies.

C-SPAN: The Youth Vote,

David Burstein

Most young people don't vote. In 2004, only 37% of eligible voters aged 18-24 voted. That was a dramatic 11% increase from 2000. In this video, Producer David Burstein discusses the issues of voter turnout among youth, which range from money to…

C-SPAN: The First Amendment and Student Expression,

C-SPAN

In this video, students discuss first amendment freedoms with Charles Haynes, Senior Scholar at the First Amendment Center. In particular, the discussion focuses on how first amendment freedoms…