Sign up for a classroom exchange
Register your class to discuss a relevant constitutional question with another classroom somewhere else in the United States. The National Constitution Center facilitates these civil dialogues by providing instructional materials, pairing classrooms, connecting them with an expert moderator, and setting up video conferencing sessions.
Exchanges provide a platform for uniting students of different backgrounds and perspectives, increasing students' constitutional knowledge while cultivating habits for civil dialogue.
Get Started with Classroom Materials
You will receive the necessary planning materials, including videos, lesson plans, and more, to prepare your students for the Exchange using the Center’s pioneering Interactive Constitution: Classroom Edition.
Register and Get Matched
Create an account with the online matchmaking platform. You can then build profiles for each of your individual classes, and the tool will find perfect matches based on grade level, subject, and class times.
Once you submit your information, the platform will match you with teachers across the country and schedule your online dialogues. We will also send resources on how to use Zoom, the videoconferencing platform used for the Exchanges.
What to Expect during an Exchange
Each exchange will be moderated by a constitutional expert, including volunteer federal or state judges or other legal professionals who have been trained on how to ensure nonpartisan neutrality and cultivate civil dialogue. The goals of the dialogues are to bestudent-centered and student-led, and to empower student voice through healthy, civil dialogue practice around constitutional issues. Each Exchange will include the following elements:
- Welcome and Introduction: The moderator will welcome the students and present the essential constitutional question that will be discussed.
- Guided Discussion of Constitutional Principles: The moderator will go over any key principles relevant to the day’s discussion, including legal scholarship and landmark cases, and then ask students formulate their own constitutionally-based responses to the essential question.
- Debate and Dialogue: Students from each class will take turns presenting their arguments, listening to their peers, and then respectfully responding.
- Practical and Relevant Discussions: The moderator will then introduce examples of the essential questions and how they play out in the real world. Students will then expand the dialogue to engage in the practice of constitutional discussions and understanding of the law.
- Redirecting Rhetoric: Students may begin arguing in favor of a personal political or policy preference, or rely on passionate rhetoric instead of constitutional reason. The moderator will use these as opportunities to reinforce the importance of focusing on what the Constitution permits or prohibits, rather than what students prefer, and to teach students to make reasoned arguments.
Our Educational Philosophy
The National Constitution Center is developing new teaching materials to support the three pillars of the Center’s unique approach to constitutional education:
- Historic storytelling
- Constitutional questions
- Civil dialogue and reflection
This approach provides a strong foundation in the Founding stories and judicial interpretations of the Constitution teaches learners of all ages to separate their political views from their constitutional views, asking not what the government should do but what it constitutionally may do and teaches students to think like constitutional scholars by providing platforms to support civil discourse within classrooms and among communities.
Get Started: Constitutional Conversations
Constitutional Conversations provide students the opportunity to explore big questions about the United States Constitution. The resources on this page support teachers’ instruction and students’ learning using the National Constitution Center’s constitutional education framework. The lesson plans included in this section of the website utilize the Center’s Interactive Constitution to provide students with nonpartisan analysis from top constitutional scholars.
Additional resources on this page include materials for establishing classroom norms and protocols for civil dialogue as well as two opportunities to extend constitutional conversations beyond the individual classroom.
More resources: New York Times Learning Network
Students can connect their constitutional understandings to current events by reading articles and op-ed pieces featured on The New York Times Learning Network. Students can then express their understanding of the constitutional issues involved through opinion polls on that site.
The Classroom Exchanges are made possible through the generous support of the Laura and Gary Lauder Philanthropic Fund at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.