While Constitution Day lends itself very neatly to Social Studies, it may be necessary or interesting to include a lesson on the Constitution in other content areas. Here are a few quick ideas I drew up. You are an expert in your field, and I am not - take this with a grain of salt. These are merely suggestions.
Discussion on the precision of language. Talk about the importance of word choice, punctuation, and grammar when drafting a document from which all law in a nation originates. Perhaps even have kids try to write their own constitutional documents in small groups, then trade constitutions with each other and have them try to find loopholes, ambiguity, and potential for abuse of power in their language. This could neatly dovetail with an existing grammar assignment. If you’re familiar with it, consider show(Okay, now I want to do this one.)
Discussion of the power of free speech and poetry. In 2011, during the Arab Spring, young people generated a tremendous amount of poetry that was democratic both in theme and in nature. Populations that desired regime change across the Middle East and Northern Africa sought to express their desires for, if not American-style government, basic freedoms of expression and self-governance. For a more individual story, in Qatar, Mohammed al-Ajami was jailed for years for insulting the Emir for his poem, Tunisian Jasmine, which supported an uprising in Tunisia. It didn’t help his case that he included this at the end:
The Arab regimes and those who rule them
are all, without exception,
without a single exception,
This question that keeps you up at night—
its answer won’t be found
on any of the official channels…
Why, why do these regimes
import everything from the West—
everything but the rule of law, that is,
and everything but freedom?
Discussion of the collection of census statistics and their importance to the execution of the Constitution. Legal decisions made within the framework of the Constitution often rely on census data. In particular, appropriations require accurate information when determining how many people will benefit from government programs, who will be affected when those programs are altered, and the long term viability of programs that continue perpetually. You could talk about statistical models, how Census data is collected and to what degree it is “accurate,” and ideas for better ways to collect accurate info.
Discussion of finance and appropriations processes. If you’re familiar with this, it could be very interesting for students to see just how much appropriating funds drives the work of the Congress. Alternatively, show them the US Debt Clock and discuss how many of the numbers are linked to each other and how they influence each other.
Discussion of the “science and useful arts” or “intellectual property” clause. The US Patent and Trademark Office protects the discoveries and inventions of Americans. Discuss the effectiveness of this, the drawbacks and advantages, and perhaps an invention or two that is related to what you’re teaching this week. You can search for relevant patents from 1976 to the present at the USPTO’s website. Everything from toilet plungers to microbiology.
The influence of science on Congress and vice-versa. Congress, to a degree, influences the research of scientific institutions through funding decisions and conditions. The scientific community influences policy with expert testimony when called upon and of its own volition. Consider taking a look at either an individual scientist or organization like the National Science Foundation that has participated in committee hearings. For example, the NSF’s list of hearings on a variety of topics include business leaders, scientists, and others advocating for the advancement of science. Perhaps consider reading or sharing excerpts of the transcripts with students, as the webcasts are hours long.
Preserving the actual Constitution. This article on preserving the Constitution itself is pretty interesting are far more lightweight than either of the other two options.
Comparative governments. Many nations of all languages have constitutions, legal frameworks, or governmental philosophies influenced by or modeled off of the United States Constitution. Analyzing that document may not be of much instructional use, but perhaps consider discussing the individuals that traveled to the United States for research, what they learned, and how they built their governments in the image of the Constitution. France is of course an example (though wow, that was a rocky road), many Latin American countries, and even Japan are options for this discussion.
Preserving the Constitution. This is above for Science as well, but this article on preserving the Constitution could be interesting to talk about the preservation process and then branch that into whatever it is that you’re studying at the moment, including maintaining collections of art of all types that have unique preservation requirements.
Calligraphy of the Constitution. Have a look at this article about Timothy Mack, whose hand actually wrote the Declaration of Independence, and Jacob Shallus, who hand wrote the Constitution over the course of a weekend. There’s lots to work with here, from paper and ink technology to the instruments used instead of all of the fancy calligraphic implements we have now. Imagine the pressure of having to actually be the hand that writes something so consequential.