Boeing Learning Center - Curriculum Standards

Meeting the Standards through Participation in the Constitution-in-Action Lab

The Constitution-in-Action Lab in the Boeing Learning Center at the National Archives provides a rich learning experience that enables students to meet curriculum standards in numerous disciplines including History, Civics and Government, Language Arts, and Technology. In the lab, students take on the roles of archivists and researchers as they work in spaces designed to replicate the actual stacks and reading rooms of the National Archives. Students study engaging letters, reports, photographs, posters, and more that were created by or for the three branches of our Federal Government. In collaborative teams, students explore connections between the documents and our Constitution, and use technology to report their findings.

During the two-hour lab experience, students are exposed to broad historical content.  They read and analyze a variety of texts and images; practice critical thinking skills, and engage in in-depth discussions. The documents that the students analyze relate to topics such as war, peace, citizenship, political responsibility, and civil rights from the period 1787–1991. The types of primary sources range from Fireside Chats to cartoons; from petitions to constitutional amendments; from personal notes to patent drawings; from court cases to formal oaths, and more. Because of this range and depth, the lab experience supports the following standards.

Historical Critical Thinking

The full range of critical thinking skills outlined in the Standards for Historical Thinking contained within the National History Standards. are encompassed in the Learning Lab experience.  Specifically, they include:

  • Chronological Thinking: Standards 1-A and F
  • Historical Comprehension: Standards 2-A, B, and C
  • Historical Analysis and Interpretation: Standards 3-D and J
  • Historical Research Capabilities: Standards 4-A, B, C, and F
  • Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making: Standards 5-A and F

Historical Content

The documents used in the lab provide exposure to historical content contained in the following eras as defined in the National History Standards:

  • Era 3   Revolution and the New Nation (1754–1820s)
  • Era 4   Expansion and Reform (1801–1861)
  • Era 5   Civil War and Reconstruction (1850–1877)
  • Era 6   The Development of the Industrial United States (1890–1930)
  • Era 7   The Emergence of Modern America (1890–1945)
  • Era 8   The Great Depression and World War II (1929–1945)
  • Era 9   Postwar United States (1945­–1970s)
  • Era 10 Contemporary United States (1968 to the present)

Civics and Government

As students study documents and explore their connections to the United States Constitution, they meet the following standards for Civics and Government:

  • What are Civic Life, Politics and Government?  Standards I-B and C
  • What are the Foundations of the American Political System?  Standards II-A
  • How Does the Government Established by the Constitution Embody the Purposes, values, and Principles of American Democracy? Standards III-B and D

National Standards for Civics and Government

Language Arts

As students analyze primary source documents, extensive sections of the Language Arts Standards are met through the lab experience.  These include

  • understanding of texts
  • comprehension
  • evaluation and appreciation of the written word
  • ability to notice structure and language conventions
  • discussion skills on print and non-print texts

As knowledgeable and critical members of a team, students gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from the sources, and articulate their findings.
Standards for the English Language Arts

The technology-rich environment of the lab correlates with standards 3, 4, and 5 of the National Technology Standards. The lab experience incorporates technology to enhance learning using technology enhanced models (3, 4) while identifying a variety of media formats to communicate information and report results (5).
National Technology Standards

Through content, method, and environment the Constitution-in-Action Learning Lab engages students and allows them to meet standards in a variety of disciplines. Participation provides students with a rich learning experience that extends well beyond the two-hour on-site experience.