Lesson PlansBack to lesson plans archive August 14, 2013
The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Lesson Plan: A History of Discrimination and Its Consequences
by Katie Gould, Teacher Resource Producer for NewsHour Extra
Government & Civics, Social Issues, History and Social Studies
One 90 minute class period
Middle and High School
Warm Up Activity
How do families achieve the American Dream?
Part of the American Dream is the idea that if you work really hard then your children will have a “better” life than you, their children will have a better life than them and so on down each generation. This idea specifically means that each generation will have more opportunities offered to them than the previous generation, and therefore can enjoy a better quality life. Think about this part of the “Dream,” how it becomes a reality, and for whom.
- Pose these questions to students in small groups:
- How exactly does this part of the American Dream happen?
- What must one generation do to help the next be “better off”?
- What must they accumulate or accomplish to become wealthier than the last generation?
Example answers are:
- access to good education from preschool to college and beyond- like medical school, and law school
- the ability to buy or rent a home in a safe neighborhood
- enough money to be able to make purchases like healthy food, clothes, technology
- enough money to pay for health care
- the ability to vote and elect people who will protect your rights and share your values
- the ability to own your own business
- the ability to get a loan from a bank for high cost items like homes, cars, and college.
- Ask students to write down their answers on large sheets of paper and then tape them to the board.
- Review their answers aloud. Mark answers that apply to many people with a capital “M” and answers that apply to a very few people with a lower case “f”. For example, inheriting genes that will make you a professional athlete, or inheriting millions of dollars from your parents typically happen to relatively few people so it gets a small “f”. The ability to get a loan to buy a house in a safe neighborhood is something that most people are legally allowed to do- gets a big “M”.
*Explain to students that these are like rungs on a ladder that one uses to climb towards the top of society. If certain rungs are missing it may be very difficult or even possible to climb to the top. Have them keep this in mind during the next activity.
1. The Story of Two Families
- Put students in pairs and randomly assign them as either “Family A” or “Family B”.
- Give each individual student their respective sheet and ask them to follow along as you read through the lives of family A and B going all the way back five generations.
- As you read through important milestones, have students write down their best guess of either “yes” or “no” as it applies to their family.
- Read these instructions aloud to your students:
Think about your family and your family’s roots. For this exercise you are going to imagine that this is the story of your family starting with your great great great grandfather. That is five generations back! Listen as your teacher reads the answers to each statement and circle yes or no to mark whether this event could have happened in your family or not. While you are learning about your family’s history think about how these events shaped the life of your family from five generations ago and the consequences they had on your family all along their journey.
- After you have read through their family history reveal that for Family A all the answers will be “no”, and Family B all the answers will be “yes.”
- After revealing the answers ask the students to think about the following questions, discuss them with their partner and write their answers at the bottom of their paper:
- How hard or how easy it was for their family to “move up” from one generation to the next?
- What were some of the main rights that allowed or stopped your family from able to improve from one generation to the next?
2. The Interactive Timeline
The Civil Rights Movement did not begin suddenly in the 1960’s, nor was it a short battle. Even today, many civil rights hopes and objectives have still not been met.
The movement for African American civil rights and progress against racial discrimination grew over time through massive grassroots organization, a commitment to achieve racial equality through non-violence, legislative victories, brilliant leadership and collaboration and the sheer courage and determination of hundreds of thousands of participants. To understand the enormity of the famous March on Washington, we compiled a timeline of major civil rights events leading up to August 28, 1963.
This timeline of the history of the civil rights movement does not include every event, but attempts to capture those that exemplify the long struggle for equality that so many fought so hard for, and many gave their lives to see realized. The interactive nature of the timeline allows for students and teachers to learn more about these historic events through both text and video.
- Either as a class or individually, visit the interactive timeline of important civil rights events leading up to the March on Washington, and important historical events that follow the march. There are videos and information they can browse to learn more about the real life events that took place. Or you may want to scroll through the timeline as a class and watch the videos together (they range from 2-10 minutes and the specific times are outlined here in an excel spreadsheet)
- After viewing the timeline, ask students to consider the following questions and discuss as a class.
- Was the use of video in the timeline helpful to your understanding of the history of the civil rights movement?
- Did you prefer the text Wikipedia events or the video events? Why or why not? Explain.
- Did you feel this interactive multi-media timeline was more helpful than a regular timeline? Discuss the pros and cons of each kind of timeline.
The Materials You Need
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Common Core Standards
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Relevant National Standards:
McRel Compendium of K-12 Standards Addressed:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.3 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.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.
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