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Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
5-6 class periods
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka
  • The students will have covered Kansas history into the 1950s.
  • They will have done chapter worksheets and taken chapter tests giving them a foundation background for the activity.
  • The students will read the Plessy and the Brown Case.
Rationale (why are you doing this?)
  • Both of these cases were pivotal points in American History. Being a Kansas History teacher, it is important that our students have an understanding of how much our society was changed with the Brown case.
  • This lesson plan also helps develop “close read’ skill as part of the Common Core.
Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Develop cooperative/ group working skills.
  • Use elements of common core close read of Primary Sources(documents).
  • Be able to compose a short essay based on the readings of Plessy and the Brown case.
  • Be able to write an essay on how the Brown case changed American society.
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met
  • Reading History- 6-8.2 cite textual information,,,.6-8.7 distinguish fact, opinion, reasoned judgment....
  • Writing History- 6-8.2 write informative/ explanatory text…6-8.6 use of technology, including internet…6-8.7 conduct short research project…
  • Class objective- chapter 10-3- discuss the impact of the Brown v. Topeka BOE case.
Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
  • Richmound’s, Kansas: Land of Contrasts
  • Griekspoor’s Kansas- The Prairie Spirit
  • Chinn’s The Kansas Journey
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
  • Web site-
  • Plessy v. Ferguson case, May, 1896- Justice H. Brown’s majority opinion, and Justice J. Harlan’s dissent opinion.
  • Brown v. Topeka BOE case, May, 1954 and Brown II May, 1955.Students will read the Majority opinion
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?
  • Background- the classes will have been assigned textbook, ch.p 10 reading. Students will take notes and do a worksheet over chp. 10.
  • Day1: The class will be divided into teams of 3-5 students (dependent on class numbers). They will be given a quick review/ background of the Plessy case. Each team will be given the majority opinion of Justice H. Brown and the dissent opinion of Justice J. Harlin. Teacher will read both opinions to the class.
  • Day 2: Each team will: A) underline all unknown words and define them in space provided next to the opinion (give about 15-20 minutes). B) Each team will review and define words their team did not know (they will find the teams have a common list). C) The teams will write a 3-5 sentence paragraph summary of each opinion.
  • Day 3: A) Each team will share (read) the summaries of the opinions with the other teams. A brief discussion of any insights the teams may have had from the reading of the two opinions. B) Teacher will pass out Brown v. BOE case (Brown II also) to all the teams and the teacher will read the majority opinion (Chief Justice Warren) to the class. C) Each team will underline and define to the side all unknown words. D) Each team will do a review of their unknown words with the class.
  • Day 4: Each team will answer the following questions (1-3 sentences):

1) What other states was part of this case?

2) What did Chief Justice Warren say about the Plessy case?

3) What did Chief Justice Warren write about public education when the 14th amendment was past versus the time of the ruling?

4) What did Warren say the court “must look instead”?

5) What did Warren say education was where “states have under taken to provide”?

6) What did Warren write about separate grade and high schools cause?

7) What did the court “conclude”?

8) What did “Brown II” order?

  • Day 5: A) The teams will share answers with class from questions 1-8.(All team answers will be turned in to teacher

B) Each student will write a short essay (2 paragraphs, 4-6 sentences each) citing examples from documents, how the Brown case impacted/ changed American society.

  • Day 6: The 7th grade Kansas History classes will take a field trip on Kansas Day to the Brown site in Topeka Kansas, tour the site and complete the site worksheet provided by the Park service. Afterward, the class will tour the State Capitol building.


Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide

    1) The students will receive a daily grade based on participation in the team work.

      20 pts.- actively contributing to team. 15 pts.- Contributes occasionally to the team. 10 pts.-. Listens to team but doesn’t contribute.

      2) Brown site worksheet-20pts.

      3) Concluding essay 50pts.

      50-45 pts.-Cites examples from documents to make points of the essay. Uses correct grammar. Each paragraph is 4-6 sentences in length.

      44-40 pts. has a couple cites from documents, a few grammar mistakes, paragraphs proper length.

      39-30 pts.- Does not cite documents, grammar mistakes, paragraphs are not 4-6 sentence in length.