Lesson PlansBack to lesson plans archive August 14, 2013
Racial equality: how far have we come and how far do we have to go? – Lesson Plan
By Katie Gould, Teacher Resource Producer for PBS NewsHour Extra
Civil rights, history, Social Issues, and social studies
One 45 minute class period
High School and Middle School
Warm Up Activity
What would you march for?
- Ask students to reflect on the courage of the hundreds of thousands of individuals who participated in the civil rights movement. So many fought the injustice in so many ways- from working on the Underground Railroad, keeping their culture alive, signing up to play baseball, sitting-in, boycotting buses, riding buses, voting and participating in the March on Washington.
- Share the slide show from the New York Times with students to help them remember the many courageous acts of non-violence. Click here for slideshow
- Ask students to think about the question, “What would you march for?” on the matching handout, and have students do the following:
- Answer the question: “What would you march for?”
- Defend and explain why this cause or belief is important enough to march for.
- What would they want to accomplish and how would they know if it had been accomplished?
*Suggested song to play while students watch slide show and reflect: “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ’round” by Sweet Honey In The Rock
1. “A More Perfect Union” Speech
- Pass out the text excerpt of President Obama’s 2008 speech on race, “A More Perfect Union”. Listen to President Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech together as a class starting at 14:40 and ending at 18:00. This will match the text excerpt.
- Ask students, in pairs, to go back over the text excerpt and find the evidence of discrimination and the consequences of the discrimination. Have them use either two different colored pens, markers, or highlighters to mark the evidence in one color and the consequences in another.
2. Four Corners
- As a class, ask students to think about the following two questions:
- Where we are on the road to true equality of the races in our country?
- How much further do you think we still need to come?
- Show these student examples from Chicago as model responses and ideas:
- Give students 4 choices to choose from for their answer to the questions and tape them to the four different corners of the classroom:
- We have made no progress and we have a huge amount of work left to do. There is no racial equality in this country.
- We have made some progress, but we still have a lot of work left to do. There is some racial equality in this country, but nowhere near enough.
- We have made very good progress, but we still have a little work to do. There is mostly racial equality in this country.
- We have come all the way and achieved complete racial equality in our country and we have no work left to do.
- Ask students to go stand in the corner with the answer they believe to be true. Give students 3-5 minutes to come up with evidence to support why their case is correct and the other corners have it wrong.
- Allow each group 2-3 minutes to present their case to the other corners. After each corner has presented, allow for individuals to switch corners if they have changed their minds.
- Allow groups to work for 3-5 more minutes, and then share again for 2-3 minutes to the other groups.
- Come back as a class and debrief by discussing the following:
- What played the largest role in your belief about “How far we have come”? Personal experiences, films, friends, the news?
- Is there any particular event in recent history that has made you feel strongly about your belief?
- What can you do as an individual to bring us, as a society, closer to true racial equality?
The Materials You Need
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Common Core Standards
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Relevant National Standards:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.3 Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.3 Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3 Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.7 Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.7 Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account..
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem..
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.8 Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.8 Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
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