Turning Points

Video collection of dramatizations for high school students and teachers that illustrate major Constitutional questions and encourage class discussion and debate.

Films:

Search and Seizure: Exploring the Fourth Amendment—This curriculum and film, made in partnership with the Texas Young Lawyers Association, entices students to learn and debate the intricacies of search and seizure law in an exciting manner. As students watch a film depicting a tricky encounter between police officers, a suspected kidnapper, and passengers in a vehicle, students will ask, “When is it acceptable for the government to intrude into a person’s private affairs?” A step-by-step study guide empowers teachers to lead the students through discussion of search and seizure issues and explanation of legal boundaries. The program meets TEKS requirements, fosters open dialogue, forces critical thinking, and demonstrates the importance of analyzing legal issues.

Download the Lesson Plans

Search and Seizure video also available on YouTube.

Conscientious Objection: Exploring the First Amendment—This curriculum entices students to learn and debate the intricacies of the first amendment in an exciting manner. As students watch a film depicting a encounter between brothers, military needs and religious beliefs, students will ask, “Should the common good of the nation always trump individual rights?” A step-by-step study guide empowers teachers to lead the students through discussion of first amendment issues and explanation of legal boundaries. The program meets TEKS requirements, fosters open dialogue, forces critical thinking, and demonstrates the importance of analyzing legal issues.

Download the Lesson Plans:
Turning Lemons into Lemonade: Better Understanding Freedom of Religion Issues

Rethinking Objector Rules

Conscientious Objector video also available on YouTube.

These are the first two short films in what will become a 12 part series of videos exploring the knottiest constitutional questions ever formulated.  A seemingly simple question—Must we go out of our way to respect minority rights in a country governed by the majority?—has spawned endless roiling in the U.S., more than a few domestic riots, and thousands of law suits.  Another simple question—What should we do when state and federal laws come in conflict?—has spawned great debate throughout our nation’s history. 

Our premise is that young people in the U.S. must learn to love such questions and to become comfortable arguing about them.  Why?  Because these are the “turning points” upon which the nation’s history has pivoted.   Questions like these inspired the colonists to break with England, caused a young nation to fight a civil war, and led directly to the emancipation of slaves and enfranchisement of women.  The U.S. has not been united by ethnicity, religion, class, or region, but only by questions.

The series is being designed to expose these political fault lines.  Importantly, the segments' central question will remain unresolved, inviting students to work through the constitutional complexities themselves.  Drawing students closer to these questions, we reason, will bring them closer to the nation that gave them birth.