State Seal Issue Survey


A Lesson Plan

We are dealing with a constitutional democracy in which sovereignty resides in the people. It is their constitution... They have a right to change, abrogate or modify it in any manner they see fit...

- Glenn Terrell

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice

Purpose: The 1968 Florida Constitution as ratified required a Constitution Revision Commission to make suggestions for change (constitutional revision) after ten years and again every twenty years. The first revision commission did its work in 1978, now the next Constitution Revision Commission will soon commence its work. This instructional unit teaches the process to be followed by the Commission. Students will simulate the process and work of the Commission -- reporting their suggestions. Students also learn that governmental institutions need review and renewal.

Overview: The flow of this instructional unit is as outlined below:

  1. Students study the Florida Constitution to identify areas of special interest or concern to them or to teams of students (hard copies of the Florida Constitution may be obtained from Sandra B. Mortham, Secretary of State, The State of Florida, The Capitol, Tallahassee, FL 32399 or the documentary history is available on-line).

  2. Inquiring into areas of needed constitutional revision, teams of students conduct interviews with significant adults in their lives (e.g., parents, guardians, relatives, neighbors) and community leaders, recording their ideas on constitutional revision. While students might use personal interviews in teams, they might also use e-mail interviews and telephone interviews arranged in advance with community leaders;

  3. Students in the class role play the Florida Constitution Revision Commission and conduct hearings. They might invite other classes studying the Florida Constitution to appear at the hearing and deliver suggestions, students might also perform at a Parents/Teachers Organization meeting wherein parents and teachers appear before the "Commission" or they might seek invitations to community groups to collect input (Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, school board, Phi Delta Kappa, etc.);

  4. The students take this information, and research areas of special interest or concern and prepare written reports, revision by revision, to be submitted to the actual Florida Constitution Revision Commission.

Goals: Students will:

  1. Understand the process to be followed by the Constitution Revision Commission, its purposes and goals;

  2. Learn that governmental institutions need review and renewal over time;

  3. Learn how to research constitutional issues and provide constructive input into the revision process;

  4. Recognize the benefits/drawbacks of open participation in the revision process; and

  5. Learn the differences between our state and federal constitutions.

The 1997 Constitution Revision Commission has a powerful mandate to review the Florida Constitution and to recommend changes. The Florida Constitution is the basic framework for our state government and changes to the Constitution have ramifications in all of our lives. This exercise is sought to highlight the constitution revision process, to identify compelling and current issues affecting the state, and to offer an opportunity for a class to simulate the revision process. The success of this project is measured solely by the ability to educate students on the process and to act as a catalyst for those students to participate in the revision process and to ultimately vote on any proposed amendments that would be placed on the ballot in November 1998. The November 1998 election represents the first election for many high school seniors and this project serves as a great opportunity to start those students off to a long history of civic participation.


  1. Obtain copies of the Florida Constitution from the Secretary of State, The Capitol, Tallahassee, FL 32399, (904) 488-3680.

  2. Use handout 'A' to initiate the study of the Constitution. Divide the class into two teams, one focused upon each of the two questions. Have them develop answers and share them within the group and then with the other team for reaction, fresh ideas, and revision. Each team will prepare a final revised version to be shared immediately for reaction by outside experts in person, by e-mail, or by postal mail. Experts might include local attorneys, judges, political leaders, and college teachers of law or politics.

  3. Students then continue their study of the Florida Constitution, focused upon what they think needs changing. Students might begin forming teams of twos and threes about special interest areas of the Constitution or special reform areas. The class should develop a list of their initial thoughts on needed changes and the reasons for those changes.

  4. Use student handout 'B' to reflect upon Florida's constitutional history, and why Floridians changed their constitutions many times since the first Constitution of 1838, written in St. Joseph, Florida (Gulf County) for the application for Statehood to Congress. What changes were made in the past? Can students hypothesize about why these changes were made? Relate to their initial thoughts on change in item #3 above.

  5. Use student handout 'C' to reflect upon the processes for constitutional revision in Florida. Read that portion of their copies of the Florida Constitution. Then, focus student attention on the forthcoming Constitution Revision Commission. Who serves? Who selects? Why? How democratic is the process? What makes it democratic? How could it be more democratic? Do a Time line for this revision process...appointing the Commission, Commission work....submitting proposed revisions....public ballot on the individual revision suggestions (or new Constitution!), etc. Visit the Florida Constitution Revision Commission Website for further research.

  6. The class begins to conduct interviews in person (by teams of two or three), by e-mail or telephone with significant adults -- parents, family relatives, community leaders, and others, on the central question: What change is needed in Florida's Constitution? Students will report to the class (oral and written) on their interviews. Students should attend to Why? (reasons) for the suggested changes from their interviewees.

  7. The class then commences its role play as the Constitution Revision Commission and holds public hearings. Other classes in the school studying the Constitution may appear before the Commission. Community leaders might be invited to appear. The Commission might conduct a hearing before a school board meeting or a P.T.O. program, or at a Lion's, Rotary, or other community organization. Students will record suggestions presented with the reasoning behind those suggestions. Stress the reasoning.

  8. Now, students take this information and begin to shape their reports to the real Florida Constitution Revision Commission! They may work in teams of two or three to do research, writing and editing to get clear, concise statements for each proposed revision.


a. Proposed constitutional addition or deletion.

b. Cite what the Constitution says/provides now (if anything).

c. Cite the reasons supporting your proposed change. This should be the longest section of your statement.

Your team will write one statement, following the format above, for each proposed change.

  1. If the real Commission holds a hearing in your community the class might appear to present its proposed revisions. If not, you might hold a community ceremony to submit the class's proposals to the Commission through the school superintendent, the school board, or the county commission. Ask a local legislator to deliver the proposed revisions to the Commission! Hold a ceremony and invite a Constitution Revision Commission member to attend. The idea here is to have an event significant as a culminating experience for students who have worked hard and performed well on this unit!


Handout A: First Things First!

Handout B: Florida's Constitutional History

Handout C: Different Methods to Amend Florida's Constitution

Handout D: Florida Constitution Revision Commission

Handout E: Basic Purposes of a State Constitution

Suggested Readings

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