“Social Studies: What we do for the rest of our lives!” Visitors to Gwinnett schools during the week of Sept. 14-18 got to see that philosophy in action as students celebrated Constitution Week and Constitution Day (Sept. 17) at every level and across content areas.
In 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by thirty-nine brave men who changed the course of history. Today, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) uses this week to continue their legacy and develop habits of citizenship in a new generation of Americans, advanced a distinctively civic mission embedded in our AKS and classroom instruction.
Examples of Constitution Week activities throughout the county include the following:
- Elementary students participated in engaging Constitution lessons, including games and writing activities, schoolwide assemblies, research projects, poster contests, and a “wax museum” of Founding Fathers and other American patriots. The Georgia Department of Education provided donor-funded copies of “The Words That Built America” to all 4th graders in the state. The book contains the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution with all Amendments, the National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, and the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Gwinnett middle school students wrote essays and designed Constitution-themed posters. They participated in constitutional scavenger hunts and “We the People” lessons from the Center for Civic Education.
- Older students conducted historical analysis of constitutional amendments and focused on rights and responsibilities of citizenship. They took part in voter registration drives, writing contests, and promoted constitutional principles with T-shirt designs.
While Constitution Week is an opportunity for focused classroom activities tied to this foundational document, study of the U.S. Constitution and the country’s other key documents is embedded in GCPS’ Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum throughout the year and in all grades. Our youngest learners (K-2) develop a foundation for civic literacy with a study of democracy and America’s Founding Fathers as well as rules and laws in our world. Students in grades 3-5 learn the role, structure, function, and responsibility of government in our representative democracy. Middle schoolers study the past and how those lessons inform civic action today, from the rise of democratic ideals and how government was shaped throughout the world’s history to the history of our own state and country. In high school, young people explore civil liberties and the common good in a constitutional democracy, connecting the past to the present. Copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are on display in every school and in central office buildings.
Check out these digital resources that bring our country’s foundational documents to life, including an Interactive Constitution from the National Constitution Center, the Charters of Freedom from the National Archives, and materials from ConstitutionDay.Com and Georgia Center for Civic Engagement.
Social Studies in GCPS
GCPS’ Social Studies program prepares students to participate as constructive citizens in a democratic society. Students understand their role and responsibility as citizens. They discover America’s heritage and its role and responsibility in the world. Students relate the past to the present. They learn the similarities and differences between nations, cultures, and peoples of the world. Students interpret maps and globes, process information, and solve problems. Themes of study include the following: beliefs and ideas influence decisions and laws, and beliefs determine decision-makers; conflict causes change; culture is the product of society; actions affect society; and the movement of ideas and people affects everyone.