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What is Incorporation?

60 min


  • Students will explain the constitutional significance of the Fourteenth Amendment
  • Students will contrast the Founders’ divergent views about which level of government might best protect individual liberty
  • Students will analyze the constitutional implications of incorporation
  • Students will evaluate how the Fourteenth Amendment has been used to protect individual rights

  1. Briefly review with the students the key points and/or the Critical Thinking questions from Handout A.
  2. Distribute (or project on a whiteboard) Handout B: The Nation, the States, and Liberty.
    1. Give students 4-5 minutes to answer the questions. Spend a few minutes discussing their responses.

  1. Ask for five volunteers to present to the class from Handout C: Consequences of Incorporation. Encourage them to read their parts expressively and energetically.
  2. Once students have finished the presentation, discuss the following questions with the entire class:
    1. Who was affected by the teachers’ decisions?
    2. Who was affected by the principal’s decision?
    3. Who was affected by the superintendent’s decision?
    4. Why did the superintendent incorporate her decision? Who would have liked or disliked her first decision? Liked or disliked her second decision?
    5. In the real world of schools, at which level (class, school, or district) is it easiest to get changes made? Most difficult to get changes made?
    6. What are the advantages or disadvantages of incorporation?
    7. Some say that incorporation has resulted in an expansion of our liberties. Others say that incorporation has resulted in an expansion of the federal government. What do you say? Could both positions be correct?

  1. Have students find an on-line article about a fundamental freedom protected by the Bill of Rights. Students should:
    1. Identify the fundamental right
    2. Identify the amendment protecting that fundamental right
    3. Describe what action is being taken by either the federal or state government concerning the fundamental right
    4. Explain whether or not the action violates a fundamental right
    5. Determine the best way to resolve any conflict between the individual’s freedom and the government’s position
  2. Have students choose or assign students to two groups: In favor of or against incorporation. Have students write a 5-7 sentence summary of why they are for or against incorporation. Students should use the Constitution and/or historical examples to support their arguments. Optional extension: have students debate the pros and cons of incorporation with each other.

Student Handouts

Next Lesson

Who Should Protect Our Fundamental Freedoms?