We the People
About We the People
We the People...The Citizen and the Constitution is an instructional program for High School and Middle School students which teaches the history and principles of the American constitutional democracy while enhancing students' understanding of government. Students discover the contemporary relevance of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at the same time. The program is based on materials developed by the Center for Civic Education and is nationally acclaimed by educators. We the People is aligned to the Ohio Learning Standards for Social Studies and English Language Arts.
We the People has a built-in authentic performance assessment: simulated congressional hearings. The simulated hearings allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate, take, and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues.
Format of Simulated Congressional Hearings
- Students act as expert witnesses and "testify" their constitutional knowledge in the format of simulated congressional hearings. A volunteer judging panel- comprised of constitutional scholars, attorneys, and policymakers- evaluate students' responses.
- A class is divided into six groups, based on the six units of the curriculum. Each group has 3-6 students, depending on the size of the class
- Each group works collaboratively to prepare answers to all the questions for the unit.
- Students review materials in the We the People textbook and research other materials, preparing a four-minute response to the question for each unit and to get ready to answer follow up questions related to the initial question.
Hearing (10 minutes per question)
- Groups of students orally respond to questions for four minutes (notes can be used)
- The judging panel asks students follow-up questions and students respond (no notes allowed) for six minutes.
- The judging panel members assess the prepared oral presentation and the responses to the follow-up questions using a scoring rubric.
For more information and details about We the People program, please contact Ryan Suskey (email@example.com) or call (614) 485-3506
We the People textbooks are available for the elementary, middle, and high school levels to aid in the teaching of the curriculum. Visit store.civiced.org for the full selection of books available, including ordering entire class sets of textbooks.
The We the People textbook is also available in multiple digital formats, including an enhanced e-book. Visit www.civiced.org/resources/publications/ebooks to learn more. For additional information regarding print or e-books, contact the Center for Civic Education at (818) 591-9321
High School - We the People State Competition & Invitational
2024 State Competition & Invitational
The 2024 High School We the People State Competition and Invitational took place on Friday, February 2, at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. Over 150 Constitutional Scholars from across the Buckeye state showcased their understanding of important constitutional principles by presenting and evaluating positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues.
Congratulations to Findlay High School for winning the competition! And a special thank you to all of the volunteer judges and facilitators who made the event possible!
2023 Competition Forms
Members: $55 (per class)
Non-members: $80 (per class)
(OCLRE membership is $30 per academic year)
2023-2024 Hearing Questions
The 2023-2024 High School We the People Hearing Questions have been released! Students will prepare two questions per unit, and will be asked both questions by the judges at the State hearings in February. The Ohio Question will be part of Unit 1 and will be released, along with a lesson plan, at a later date.
- Only classes rostered in the competition are eligible to be the state champion
- The state champion has the opportunity to represent Ohio at the National Finals
- In order to be eligible for the competition, schools/teams must meet rules set forth by the Center for Civic Education, including registering an entire rostered class that has studied all six units of the curriculum
- Open to any group of students, including groups that have not studied all six units, are not a complete rostered class, or otherwise, need accommodation
- While scores are earned, the Invitational is non-competitive and allows students the opportunity to participate without being ranked against other groups/classes
- The Invitational follows the same format and will run concurrently with the state competition
Invitational participants are not eligible to advance to the National Finals
Ohio Question & Inquiry Design Model (IDM)
In an ongoing effort to better connect We the People to Ohio students through the Ohio state standards, OCLRE writes a question based on the Ohio Constitution. This question is released along with the state hearing questions each fall. The class that scores the highest on the Ohio question at the state competition and invitational will receive the Ohio Constitution Scholar Award.
The 2023-2024 Ohio Question is rooted in Unit 1: What Are the Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System? In conjunction with the release of the Ohio Constitution question, OCLRE provides a lesson plan to help educators teach the new question and concepts. The lesson plan for the 2023-2024 Ohio Constitution Question can be found here. For past years’ lesson plans, please visit the C3 Resources tab on our Teacher Resources page.
The lesson is set up as an inquiry-based lesson using an Inquiry Design Model (IDM) template. Students will look at an overarching, compelling question with supporting questions to help them garner information to help them answer the compelling question. A variety of primary and secondary sources are provided as a starting point. Formative tasks are built in to check their understanding along the way.
“We the People immerses the student in the content and develops critical thinking skills.” ~ Allison Papish, Strongsville High School
“This is a great experience and easy to incorporate into the curriculum. It allows the students to show off their brains! Parents who see the program are consistently impressed with the event and the support within the community grows.” ~ Andrea Oyer, Archbold High School
“This program allows students to get out of their comfort zone and really put forth the effort to make themselves look and sound presentable and knowledgeable about the U.S. Constitution.” ~ Courtney Reiner, Ayersville High School
“It’s a great authentic assessment and your students will really grow through the process.” ~ Matthew Wunderle, Ravenna High School
Seeing is believing! Teachers are invited to learn more about We the People by observing the state showcase. Contact Ryan Suskey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (614) 485-3506 for more information
Middle School - We the People Showcase
2024 State Showcase
The 2024 Middle School We the People Showcase will take place on Friday, May 10, 2024 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. More information is forthcoming.
Interested teachers may contact Ryan Suskey at email@example.com or (614) 485-3506 for more information.
2024 Hearing Questions
At the 2024 Middle School State Showcase, students will be asked questions from the Teacher's Edition of the textbook. Rather than preparing all three questions for each unit, panels should come prepared to discuss the two* questions selected for this year in the document linked below.
*Based on registration numbers and capacity, OCLRE will determine whether the schedule will permit students to present both questions, or whether only one will be used for the judges.
Members: $35 (per class)
Non-Members: $80 (per class)
(OCLRE membership is $30 per academic year)
“You will see your students grow both academically and personally. My students gained a sense of school pride and comradery completing this program.”
~ Jessica Parker, Trotwood-Madison Middle School
“It’s very worthwhile and meaningful. The program has substance and relevance. It teaches concepts that are vital for a thriving republic.”
~ Chris Gutermuth, Sycamore Junior High School
“The conversations you will have and the topics that come up as a result are the fundamentals for teaching and what this country is all about: Knowing about our history, country, and laws are key to a civic citizenry.”
~ Phil Hammer, Sycamore Junior High School
Seeing is believing! Teachers are invited to learn more about We the People by observing the state showcase. Contact Ryan Suskey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (614) 485-3506 for more information.
Constitution Camp 2023
Last fall, attendees of the Constitution Camp 2023 experienced insightful sessions led by specialists delving into crucial themes surrounding the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Understanding the Appellate Process, all with a distinct Ohio perspective. The expert-led discussions were intertwined with effective teaching strategies tailored to bring these topics alive in classrooms, and the sessions also focused on the We the People and Moot Court programs and their intersections with the Constitution.
Our sincere thanks to our Constitution Camp scholars Professor Marc Spindelman (Isadore and Ida Topper Professor of Law at The OSU Moritz College of Law) and Professor Atiba Ellis (Laura B. Chisholm Distinguished Research Scholar and Fiske Lecturer at CWRU School of Law) for sharing their time and expertise with the teachers!
Details about the 2024 Constitution Camp will be released at the start of the school year in September
2023 Workshop Agenda
Tuesday, November 28 - Substantive Due Process and Unenumerated Rights
Registration Opens; Light Breakfast Provided
Content Session: Identifying the Issue in Court Opinions
Substantive Due Process Overview
Professor Marc Spindelman, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
Authentic Assessment Model: Moot Court in the Classroom
Moot Court Preparation
Moot Court Simulation
Debrief & Dismiss
Wednesday, November 29 - Voting Rights in the Modern Era
Registration Opens; Light Breakfast Provided
The VRA: History, Present, and Future
Professor Atiba Ellis, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Pedagogy Session: Civil Conversation Model around Voting Rights
Pedagogy Session: The Social Mixer
Authentic Assessment: What is We the People
Authentic Assessment: Hearing Preparation
Authentic Assessment: Simulated Congressional Hearing
Debrief & Dismiss
Constitution Camp Cost
In-Person Day 1:
In-Person Day 1 & Day 2:
For any inquiries or clarifications, please contact Ryan Suskey (email@example.com) or call (614) 485-3506.
Summer Institute: Civics That Empowers All Students (CEAS)
This project is funded by a Supporting Effective Educator Development Grant from the USDOE with the following goals:
- To increase undeserved grades 4-8 students' attainment of state civics standards, related literacy standards, and social and emotional learning competencies,
- to create inclusive and identity-safe learning environments for underserved students in grades 4-8,
- to support high-quality development for diverse teachers, and
- to study the effectiveness of the updated and enhanced We the People blended-learning professional development program at improving teacher and student outcomes.
- Free professional development! A total of 52 hours of professional development in a learning community with mentors and other teachers from Ohio and neighboring states, including a 36-hour in-person summer institute and 16 hours of online academic-year follow up.
- OCLRE is currently planning the 2023 CEAS Summer Institute as a joint venture between Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia.
- Engaging pedagogy and academic content, centered on the highly effective We the People curriculum
- A network of support and resources for engaging diverse student populations in the history, principles, and current application of the U.S. Constitution
- Scholar guest speakers
- Access to a library of professional development videos with noted scholars and practitioners cued to the curriculum
- Free set of We the People textbooks and teacher's guide
- A stipend for completing program requirements
For Ohio's participation in this grant, this program is for teachers in grades 7 or 8 who work with 30% or more underserved students, including:
- Students living in poverty (Title I Schools)
- Students of color
- Students with disabilities
- English learners
- Migrant students
- Students in foster care
- Students performing below grade level
*The Federal definition of high-need students includes qualifiers such as: students in poverty counted in the most recent census date; students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch; students in families receiving assistance under the State program funded under part A of Title IV of the Social Security Act; students eligible to receive medical assistance under the Medicaid program
- Participate in 52 hours of professional development
- 36-hour summer institute; 16 hours of in-service professional development
- A total of 40 hours of classroom instruction using the We the People curriculum
- Involve students in the simulated congressional hearing instructional activity
- Participate in a teacher pre- and post-test
- Administer student pre- and post-tests
This project began in the summer of 2023 and will continue through the 2023-2024 school year. Resources and assistance will be provided throughout project duration, but continued participation is required.