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Duration
More than 90 minutes
Topic(s)
  • Civil Rights
  • Current Events
  • Journalism
  • Politics
Grade(s)
  • 6-12

(Note: For more support, see expanded procedure in downloadable lesson plan.)

  1. In advance, use the Civil Rights Resources list at the end of the Lesson Plan to find articles about current civil rights issues and links to additional support for implementing a service-learning project. Also, review the sample Identifying Community Issues worksheet at the end of this packet. You may wish to distribute it to students new to the research process.
  2. As a class, define “community” and “civil rights.” Then, further define three types of civil rights: social, economic and legal/political.
  3. Brainstorm a list of current civil rights issues that affect your community.
  4. In pairs or individually, have your students pick one issue each to research further.
  5. After completing their research, have students write a short essay or create a physical or digital poster to showcase their findings.
  6. As a class, choose one issue that you find compelling and that you think you could work to change through a class project. This issue will form the foundation for lessons 2 and 3 of this unit.

  • Identifying Community Issues worksheet (download), one per student
  • Research Guide worksheet (download, optional), one per student
  • Internet access
  • Student example Community Issue poster (download, optional)

Have students present their projects to their classmates and discuss their findings. Prompts include:

  • Which of these issues has the widest impact on our community?
  • Which of these issues is new? Which have been around for a long time?
  • Which of these issues seems most difficult/easiest to address and why?
  • Who has attempted to solve these issues in the past? How have they succeeded? How have they failed?
  • Which of these issues did the civil rights movement, which peaked in the 1950s and 1960s, address or attempt to address?
  • How could you apply lessons learned about the civil rights movement to addressing these issues today?

  1. Real World Connection: Meet with a representative from a local nonprofit that addresses a community issue or issues (such as the local United Way, a food bank or a religious charitable organization) to find out more about how these groups identify community problems and work to implement solutions. Have your students prepare questions in advance of the meeting. They may want to the view the “Interviewing Essentials” video lesson to prepare for this opportunity. Afterwards, have students write an article about the organization and its methods.
  2. At the Newseum: Visit the “Make Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement” exhibit. Have your students write a paragraph about how their issue connects to one or more of the issues and events portrayed in this exhibit. Some questions to consider: Did my issue arise before or after these events? Did any of these events make my issue worse or better? How do these events compare to the ways in which people have responded to my issue? How does the attention paid to these events compare to the attention paid to my issue and why?

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