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In this civil rights lesson, students experience what discrimination is like


Social Studies  


7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Civil Rights Movement
By – Christina Hanks
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Grade Level – 7-12
Concept / Topic To Teach:
Discrimination and the Civil Rights Era

(Used With Permission From

Standards Addressed:
Missouri Show-Me Standards 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, & 7

Specific Objectives
Students will experience what discrimination is like and be able to brainstorm ways to end discrimination. This will lead into discussions about Brown v. B.O.E., Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Freedom Rides, along with the practice of Civil Disobedience and Non-Violent Demonstrations

Required Materials:
2 decks of cards-each deck a different color (blue and red), roll of duct tape, bag of candy (bite-size candy bars or whatever your preference), red marking pen

Anticipatory Set (Lead-In):
As students enter the room, hand each one a card. Don’t tell them what it’s about and if they trade, that’s alright.

Step-By-Step Procedures:
Prior to students entering the room, write on the board “QUIZ TODAY”. Taking the two decks of cards, count out enough cards so each student will have one card. Mix the colors so there is more of one color than the other. Example: If the class has 30 students, have 22 blue cards and 8 red cards mixed in a pile. As students enter the room, hand each one a card. When they enter, they will see the board and either start looking over notes or complain about the quiz. Tell them they should look over their notes.

Next, have all the students with a blue card move to the back of the room. If you want, you can move desks around so there are not enough desks for all the students. When they are finished moving, take the duct tape and put up a barrier between the blue students and the red students. Ask everyone if they are ready for the quiz, when the blue students begin to complain, treat them with indifference. Say that first you are going to have a vote. I used “All those in favor of the red students getting a candy bar raise your hand.” Of course, all the red students will raise their hands and the blue students will complain again, and again treat them with indifference. Then take another vote “All those in favor of getting a candy bar, raise your hand.” When all the students raise their hands, only count the red students’ vote. The blue students will complain, at this time you can explain that they have not passed the voting test and until they do, their votes do not count. Some students may want to take the voting test. Say “hold on” to them (put them off).

Instruct the students to take out a sheet of paper for the quiz. Remind them to put their name on their paper and number the paper 1-10. When this is completed, mark the red students’ papers with an “A” and collect all the papers. The blue students will ask what grade they are going to receive and you can tell them a D or F which ever you want. Then have another vote “All those in favor of the red students receiving an A raise your hand” The blue students will probable want the voting test.

Now for the voting test, you can use many different things. I used the Constitution. I addressed the blue group that whoever could recite the 11th amendment, word for word, then explain to me what it meant, could not only vote but also move up into the red student section. Do not let them use their books. When they realize that no one can do this, they will begin to complain again. Tell them that you will give them one more chance. I then asked them who could tell me what the 13th amendment accomplished, most, if not all, will be able to answer this one. When they have successfully answered, explain that even though slavery ended in 1865, Jim Crow laws came into effect and discrimination against African Americans remained. Next, ask the students how they felt when they were being discriminated against. Have them brainstorm ways to combat discrimination and list them on the board. Ask them if any of them heard of Brown v. B.O.E., the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Rides, the sit-ins, or any other event. Have the students discuss what they already know, and instruct them on other aspects of Civil Disobedience, and Non-Violent Demonstrations.

Plan for Independent Practice:
Challenge students to come up with something that needs to be changed today. Could Civil Disobedience or Non-Violent Demonstrations work to obtain the change they are seeking? Why or why not?

Closure (Reflect Anticipatory Set):
Ask the students if they have ever been guilty of discriminating against someone. What could they do to change this? What are other ways that discrimination has affected the world?

Assessment Based On Objectives:
Students will write 3 pages on the effects of discrimination at other times in the world. Students may come up with Hitler and the Nazis, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, or many others. Grading will be done according to scoring guide, which includes spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.

Adaptations (For Students with Learning Disabilities): Possible adaptation may include limiting the report to 1 page.

E-Mail Christina Hanks !

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