Writing to Read Democracy: Written Conversations & Dialectical Notebooks–Collaborative Close Reading

in Writing to Read Democracy in New York State & The United States
Activity 2

Created by Prof. Seth Halvorson & Dr. Erica Kaufman
Bard College Institute for Writing & Thinking

NYS Common Core Grades 7 & 8:
History of the United States & New York State I & II

This document-based sequence of activities invites students to chart the dialog between the New York State Courts, the Federal Courts, and other State Courts regarding the scope of individual rights. Generally speaking, New York State Courts are more protective of individual rights than Federal Courts and more so than other State Courts as well. The central question is: How have the New York State Courts understood the scope of individual rights? 

Using the New York State Constitution and US Constitution, this activity blends IWT’s writing to read strategies with students’ understanding of what the rights of NYS citizens are through individual and collaborative critical thinking. The end goal of this activity is to engage in reflective process talk focused on the two documents placed in conversation.

This unit plan meets the following guidelines of New York State’s Common Core Social Studies Framework (2016):

  • The Constitution in Practice: 7.5a
  • Domestic Politics and Reform: 8.9b, 8.9e

Lesson Overview PDF

IWT’s Core Writing (& Reading) Practices PDF

Document Packet PDF

Freedom of Expression in the NYS Constitution PDF

The First and Fourth Amendments to the US Constitution PDF

The Historical Society’s website contains a wealth of related resources related to this unit.

New York State Constitution

New York & Ratification of the Federal Constitution

Image Citation: New York State Archives. New York (State). Secretary of State. Fourth constitution of the State of New York, 1894. A1807-78.

Writing to Read Democracy: Guided Document Analysis
Lesson 1
Writing to Read Democracy: Case Law Jigsaw
Lesson 3
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