Revisiting the Constitutional Convention

Two items here:

First, Dan Haggerty – who teaches at Lewis and Clark High School in Vancouver – writes:

I started reading Madison’s daily convention notes (of which I have a copy from an earlier incarnation of this grant or maybe another workshop), day by day, on the actual date the founders met in 1787. I started on the 25th, the first day they had enough members present to have a legal quorum. I hope to read each day (at least according to Madison) what they accomplished on the corresponding day 222 years ago, and by September 17th be fully steeped in convention background, as if I had been there. Sort of. The Avalon Project has Madison’s notes including references and appended documents. It just seemed like a fun, kind of geeky thing to do.

If you’d like to join Dan in his time traveling, you can contact him via email or use the comments section for this entry.

Secondly, also on the topic of time traveling and the Constitutional Convention, I wanted to mention a trip I took last week to my daughter’s classroom at Opal School in Portland.  Her grade 4-5 (plus one third grader) multi-age class has been embarking on an ambitious study of US history (in a recent entry, I linked to her teacher’s blog referring to the unit.)  Each student (with some doubling up) was assigned to investigate a different decade, 1770 to the present.  One central way they shared their understandings through writing a work of historical fiction, building from imagining a ten year old living at that time.

Last week, they held a Constitutional Convention of their own.  Speaking as they argued for the adoption of their concerns regarding governmental protections.  Unsurprisingly, their presentations focused mostly on issues of fair treatment.

I was struck by the idea that, as I read it, the framers of the Constitution were focused on serving future Americans.  The idea that students might go back to the framing and speak to the authors as “ghosts of Constitution future”  seems to be a powerful device.

I wrote a response to the students that includes some questions that might be helpful in other classes.  In that hope, I post it here.

You can learn more about the school at the Opal School Symposium; I hope that the students’ work – which also includes some amazing dioramas – will be uploaded soon.

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2 responses to “Revisiting the Constitutional Convention

  1. Hi Matt! We missed you at the open house tonight! The kids were, as predicted, amazing– and the adults were duly impressed with the incredible work and the capacity the kids have for such powerful expressions of these big ideas. Thanks for letting people know about the symposium… seats this year are going fast!
    Hope to see some of your readers there… and, yes, some images will be up soon… but not tonight! Keep checking …

  2. Pingback: US History dioramas from elementary students « Teaching American History in SW Washington

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