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  • Lesson plan
  • Grades 11-12,
  • Grades 9-10

What Do I Believe? Considering Controversial Issues Like the Death Penalty

Lesson Details


By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Research, critically evaluate and summarize visual and written source material on the death penalty
  • Discuss the emotional, moral and ethical impact of serving on a capital trial by listening to the viewpoints of jury members
  • Cite a range of primary texts they used to inform their viewpoints on the death penalty
  • Develop and write essays on their views of the death penalty using the guidelines from the "This I Believe" format


Civics, Current Events, Language Arts, Law, Philosophy, U.S. History

Internet access and equipment to show the class online video clips from Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2 and for students to conduct research.

Approximately one 90-minute class plus homework.

This film contains mature content and conversations about the death penalty. If you suspect that parents/guardians might be concerned about the subject matter, you may want to send home a note prior to the lesson explaining that students will view clips from a film that examines a legal case involving the execution of a man in 2006. It may also be important to share that students will be writing about their own points of view on the death penalty, which may involve individual moral, ethical and religious connections.

About the authors


Blueshift is a team of education specialists with background in environmental and social impact work. The team recognizes and builds on the power of documentary film in reaching broad audiences to spark energy for deep and lasting social change. The team works with filmmakers, photographers and writers to develop innovative educational strategies, experiences, tools and resources that bring stories off the screen and into viewers' lives.