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Social Studies – Concept Formation – Equality Under the Law

Subject:

Social Studies  

Grades:

8, 9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Concept Formation Lesson:  Equality under the Law
by – Haven D. Borgias
Subject – Social Studies – History or Government
Grade Level – 8 -12

Critical Characteristics:
A condition that a): is marked by impartiality that is free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism b): conforms with the established rules or laws: free from favor toward either or any side and c): implies an absence of all prejudice.

Objectives:
SWBAT identify at least three critical attributes of the concept Equality.
SQBAT correctly classify examples of statements promoting Equality from statements which lack the critical attributes of Equality from a mixed list.
SWBAT create or find an example of equality and explain how the example meets the critical characteristics of Equality.

Materials: Teacher-made data gathering chart, overhead projector and dry erase markers, chalk board (white board) and chalk (dry erase markers).

I. Opening:
Today, you will have an opportunity to develop a concept that is part of the larger concept of democracy.  Once you have learned this concept, you will be able to distinguish examples of it from non-examples.  This concept is important because you will need to recognize how this concept is used in an historical context and how it is used today.  In understanding the characteristics of this concept, you will be able to distinguish the different ways that the media and political figures speak and write about this concept and decide for yourselves if they are using the concept correctly or incorrectly.  In developing a concept, we will use six steps.  [Put outline of Concept Formation on board] The first step is data gathering.  In a few moments, I will pass out a chart with four statements on it that will have examples of our concept and a series of questions for you to respond to.  In the second step, you will report on the information you have read and your respond to the questions about the statements.  The third and fourth step we will work together as a class and note the differences and similarities between the examples.  In the fifth step, each of you will make a sentence that defines the important characteristics of the concept.  After we have defined the concept, we will try to give it a name and reasons why we call it “x”, “y”, or “z”.  Are there any questions?

II. Concept Formation Teaching Strategy
1. Data Gathering:
(T) I am now going to hand out the data gathering charts.  Take the next ten to fifteen minutes to read all the statements and respond to the questions.  You will notice that there are four statements to read and three questions about each statement.
(S) Students read and respond to data gathering chart and questions.
(T) [After 15 minutes check to see if students need more time, if so give the students 5 more minutes to work independently]
2. Report:
(T) Let’s see how you’ve responded to the statements and the questions.  Would someone please read the statement in example one?
(S) [One student reads statement]
(T) What do you think in response to the first question?  Does this statement comment on individuals or on groups? [Call on individuals to respond, and report findings on overhead chart.]
(S) I think it talks about individuals and groups.
(T) [Continue data gathering responses]
3. Differences:
(T) In what ways are these statements different?
(S) Some of them are laws and some of them are opinions.
(T) [Teacher continues to elicit student responses and repeats the process writing students responses on the board under heading differences]
4. Similarities:
(T) Let’s change gears now and discuss the ways that these statements are similar?  [Call on individuals or respond to raised hands.]
(S) Well, they all seem to be talking about the rights or privileges of people.
(T) That’s good. [Teachers now writes the similarities under the heading of similarities on the board and continues to elicit responses.]
5. Synthesis:
(T) We’re going to continue to our fifth step and put together a statement that combines the critical attributes of our concept.  I want everyone to look over the similarities and differences that we have on the board and then write a sentence that includes the three most important statements we have made.  I’ll give you five minutes before we share these statements with the rest of the class.  [After five minutes or when the noise level rises, call on students to read their own statements.]
(S) These are all statements about how groups and individuals should be treated fairly under the law without any special treatment.
(T) [Call on as many students as time permits.  Write statement on the board or overhead projector.]
6. Labeling (theirs):
(T) What is a one or two word phrase that you might use to sum up the statements we have written on the board?  Take a minute and then I’ll write some of your suggestions on the board.
(S) How about “Fairness in law.”
(T) That’s a good name.   In what way is the phrase “fairness in law” a good label for this concept?
(S) It describes the way the law should be the same for everyone no matter what color you are.
(T) [Teacher continues to elicit student labels and reasoning.]
7. Labeling (conventional):
(T) The word most often used by people to describe the concepts we have been studying is “equality” or “equality under the law.”  [Write on board.]
(S) [Students should note label and write it down on the same page they have written their own statements.]
8. Classifying (guided practice):
I’m going to put an example on the overhead.  I want you to decide whether this example shows equality under the law or not. [Put first statement "Rosa Parks" on overhead and read aloud to students.]
 “On the evening of December l, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama: Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress, took the bus because she was feeling particularly tired after a long day in the department store where she worked as a seamstress. She was sitting in the middle section, glad to be off her feet at last, when a white man boarded the bus and demanded that her row be cleared because the white section was full.  Mrs. Parks was arrested for not standing and letting a white bus rider take her seat. It was an “established rule” in the American south (at that time) that African American riders had to sit at the back of the bus. African American riders were also expected to surrender their seat to a white bus rider if it was needed.
(T) Take a moment to read the statement once more and then I will take a finger vote of your opinions.
a)  I’m going to take a finger vote, if you think this statement shows equality under the law thumbs up, if inequality thumbs down.  If you are not sure, make a flat palm. [ Take vote of students]
b) Let’s start with the “not sures.”  Kari, why makes you unsure?
(S) I’m not sure because I don’t know what the law was at that time.
(T) [Continue to check with students who think this statement is/ is not an example of equality under the law.
9. Homework Classifying Types 2, 3, 4:
(T) Classifying 2: As part of your homework, I’m giving you a list of statements.  Some of these statements show equality under the law and some do not.  After reading each statement decide if the statement show equality or not and then write a statement supporting your decision.
(T) Classifying 3: I also want you to look through the newspaper, your books, even photographs and try to find an example of equality.  Remember you should be able to explain what makes your example an example of equality using the critical attributes that we have discussed.
(T) Classifying 4: On the last page of your homework, there will be an example of equality under the law.  After reading the example, change it into a non-example of equality.
III. Closing
Today, we learned about the concept Equality under the law.  The characteristics of equality we have defined as impartial and free from self interest, conforming to established rules or laws, and it implies an absence of prejudice.  Let’s review the kinds of thinking skills you used in this lesson. [Put outline of steps on overhead.]
 
For overhead:
“On the evening of December l, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama: Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress, took the bus because she was feeling particularly tired after a long day in the department store where she worked as a seamstress. She was sitting in the middle section, glad to be off her feet at last, when a white man boarded the bus and demanded that her row be cleared because the white section was full.  Mrs. Parks was arrested for not standing and letting a white bus rider take her seat. It was an “established rule” in the American south (at that time) that African American riders had to sit at the back of the bus. African American riders were also expected to surrender their seat to a white bus rider if it was needed.
Concept Formation Outline:
1. Data gathering

2. Report

3. Noting the Differences

4. Noting the Similarities

5. Synthesizing:  Defining the Characteristics

6. Labeling: possible and conventional

Name:___________________________
Date:___________________________
Period:___________________________

Read the following statements and answer the questions based on the material we have covered and the definition we have given for the concept of equality

1) After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Executive Order 9066 ordered all persons of Japanese ancestry living on the west coast to be held in internment camps, without trial or hearing. One hundred and twenty thousand people were forced from their homes, taken to relocation centers and held there for a number of years. The ten hastily constructed internment camps were located in wastelands, swamps or deserts in isolated areas of the country.

Is this an example or a non-example of equality under the law?  Why or why not?
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

2) In November 1998, Washington State voters passed Initiative 200.  This initiative prohibits government from discriminating against or granting preferential to individuals or groups based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, or public contracting. Government includes all public entities, including the state, cities, counties, public schools, public colleges, public universities, and other governmental instrumentalities. This initiative does not repeal or modify any law or governmental action that does not discriminate or grant preferential treatment.
Is this an example or a non-example of equality under the law?  Why or why not?
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

3) In 1993, Robert L. Wilkins, a Harvard Law School graduate, complained about what he considered to be an illegal search by the police of his vehicle.  Wilkins said that he and his family were stooped by the Maryland State Police, allegedly for speeding. The state police asked for permission to search Wilkins’ car for illegal drugs.  Although Wilkins protested the “illegal search”, he and his family were asked to wait in the rain until the county sheriffs department arrived with drug sniffing dogs.  No drugs were found.  Wilkins claimed he was detained and searched by state police for no apparent reason and claimed he and his family had been targeted based on a “racial profile” used by police in drug interdiction efforts. MSP steadfastly denied the allegation, but ultimately agreed to settle the case and to maintain computer records of motorist searches to permit monitoring for any patterns of discrimination.
 Is this an example or a non-example of equality under the law?  Why or why not?
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

4) In November 1998, Washington State passed Initiative 200.  This initiative prohibits government from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to individuals or groups based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, or public contracting. Government includes all public entities, including the state, cities, counties, public schools, public colleges, public universities, and other governmental instrumentalities. This initiative does not repeal or modify any law or governmental action that does not discriminate or grant preferential treatment.
Is this an example or a non-example of equality under the law?  Why or why not?
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
Change this example of equality and change it into a non-example of equality
>From the National Educational Goals 2000
By the year 2000, all students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter including English, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography, and every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our Nation’s modern economy.
Concept Formation Data Gathering Chart
Comments from Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Ely Parker,1869:

The Indian tribes of the United States are held to be wards of the government, and the only title the law concedes to them to the lands they occupy or claim is a mere possessory one. But, because treaties have been made with them, they have become falsely impressed with the notion of national independence. It is time that this idea should be dispelled, and the government cease the cruel farce of thus dealing with its helpless and ignorant wards.     Justice Harlan Dissenting (Plessy v. Ferguson) 1896.

In respect of civil rights, common to all citizens, the constitution of the United States does not, I think, permit any public authority to know the race of those entitled to be protected in the enjoyment of such rights. Every true man has pride of race, and under appropriate circumstances, it is his privilege to express such pride and to take such action based upon it as to him seems proper. But I deny that any legislative body may have regard to the race of citizens when the civil rights of those citizens are involved.
Louisiana Law, 1890:

All railway companies carrying passengers in their coaches in this state, shall provide equal but separate accommodations for the white, and colored races, by providing two or more passenger coaches for each passenger train, or by dividing the passenger coaches by a partition so as to secure separate accommodations.  No person or persons shall be permitted to occupy seats in coaches, other than the ones assigned to them, on account of the race they belong to.’
   14th Amendment, ratified 1868:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

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