Interactive Guide to the Sixth Amendment

From the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics

This brief (one web page) interactive guide to the Sixth Amendment dynamically illuminates the meaning of the text of the Amendment.  Each highlighted word in the Amendment opens up to a video where U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia M. Rufe explains the meaning and context of that specific word.

This resource can be used to foster an active discussion of what the words in the Sixth Amendment mean. 

A judge can ask students for their interpretation of the highlighted words, than click on the terms (using a computer and projector, of course) to bring up the related video explanations.  Because of the brevity of the resource, it is unlikely to be a stand-alone resource.  It would, however, act as a solid “introduction” to the Sixth Amendment in combination with additional resources or a related talk from a judge. 

Although the videos of Judge Rufe are strong, there may be value in giving a particularly sophisticated audience a sense of how some of the words have been variously interpreted by other judges over time.

Given the difficulty of the vocabulary and the concepts embedded in the Sixth Amendment, this resource is likely most appropriate for a middle and high school audience.  

What other resources will complement this?

  1. An Act of Courage: The Arrest Records of Rosa Parks  Lesson Plan from the National Archives (M, H)
  2. Balancing Free Speech and Fair Trial  Lesson Plan from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (H)
  3. Courts in the Classroom  Videos from the Judicial Council of California and the Administrative Office (P, M, H)
  4. Dialogue on Youth and Justice  Lesson Plan from the American Bar Association (H, A)  
  5. Interactive Guide to the Sixth Amendment  Interactive document from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (M, H)
  6. Teen House Party Search  Lesson Plan from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (H, A)

Additional Recommended Resources Off-Site Links

  1. A Constitutional Timeline
    • Multi-aged audience timeline that highlights key dates in history of Constitution, with links to text, audio and video clips. From National Constitution Center's Constitution Day site. 
  2. Interactive Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that enables users to search Constitution by keyword or topic, with access to explanatory materials throughout. From National Constitution Center.   
  3. The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that lists the text of each section of every article in the Constitution, and provides explanation of what the text means in plain language.  From the Leonore Annenberg Institute of Civics. 
  4. Understanding the Federal Courts
    • Multi-aged online textbook-type document that includes sections on Article III, the Federal Court system and the geographical boundaries of the Courts of Appeal and the District Courts, the code of conduct for judges, juror qualifications, exemptions and terms of service, as well as categories of bankruptcy cases.  From the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts.