The Great Debate: U.S. Supreme Court Cases

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The Great Debate: U.S. Supreme Court Cases QuickLinks

Grade Level: 5th
Download the entire lesson plan: PDF | DOC | PPT

Lesson At A Glance

This lesson follows the unit on the formation of the U.S. government and the U.S. Constitution in the student’ social studies textbook. Also, this lesson follows the first lesson of the students’ pop culture debates and a persuasive writing lesson. 

Objectives

  • Students will create a persuasive essay writing for one constitutional rights topics.
  • Students will present their persuasive essays for their sides in a debate format in front of the class and will be recorded for a podcast

California Content Standards (including Common Core)

Standards Addressed:

Language Arts Standards:

Writing:

2.4  Write persuasive letters or compositions:
        e. State a clear position in support of a proposal.
        f. Support a position with relevant evidence. 
        g. Follow a simple organizational pattern.
        h. Address reader concerns.

Speaking:

2.2  Deliver informative presentations about an important idea, issue, or event by the following  means:
       d. Frame questions to direct the investigation.
       e. Establish a controlling idea or topic.
       f. Develop the topic with simple facts, details, examples, and explanations.

History Standards:

5.7 Students describe the people and events associated with the development of the U.S. Constitution and analyze the Constitution's significance as the foundation of the American republic:

3. Understand the fundamental principles of American constitutional democracy, including how the government derives its power from the people and the primacy of individual liberty. 

4. Understand how the Constitution is designed to secure our liberty by both empowering and limiting central government and compare the powers granted to citizens, Congress, the president, and the Supreme Court with those reserved to the states. 

5. Discuss the meaning of the American creed that calls on citizens to safeguard the liberty of individual Americans within a unified nation, to respect the rule of law, and to preserve the Constitution.


Common Core State Standards for ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS & Literacy in History/Social
Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects K-5

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening K-5

Comprehension and Collaboration

1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

3. Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

4. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

5. Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

6. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

 

Big Ideas, Essential Questions, and Higher Order Thinking

Big Ideas: 

  • The strength of a democracy is equal to the strength of its citizens (The judicial branch interprets the Constitution and with people’s participation into the judicial system, our Constitution is strengthened and our democracy is strengthened).  
  • E Pluribus Unum: out of many, one (One person can make a difference in the legal system by bringing their Constitutional questions to the judicial branch). 


Essential Questions/Issues:

1. How is the Constitution a living document?

2. When people participate in the judicial branch, how can citizens have an effect on interpreting  the Constitution?


Higher Order Thinking Questions: 

1. How would you debate your side of each of the famous U.S. Supreme Court Cases? (analysis  and synthesis)

2. After the debates, does the U.S. Supreme Court decisions to your case seem fair to you?  (judgment)

Assessments

Assessment: 

Students will be evaluated through informal checks for understanding, teacher observation, self-reflection, and performing an authentic task evaluated by a persuasive writing and class debate rubric.   

Click here to download assessment tools

Activity Steps

Lesson Activity Steps:

Click to download the activity steps

 Purpose   Teacher   Students 
 

Hook

5 minutes 

Teacher starts yelling “Fire” and starts a discussion about if it is right to do that when there is no fire. Actively discuss with the teacher the consequences of saying “Fire” when nothing is on fire.
Set

10 minutes

Introduce Big ideas and objectives for this lesson.
 Listen to the teacher
Into

20 minutes

Watch videos of each case from the Courts in the Classroom and have them fill out the worksheet. Students watch the videos and fill out the worksheet.
Through

10 minutes  

Have the students pick the topics for the debates   Students pick a topic they want to be for the debate
Through

20 minutes

Go over the persuasive writing format for their debate and the rubrics for the writing and oral debate Students listen and present any questions about the task to the teacher.
Assessment

1-2 hours for writing and 1 hour for the class debate

Students will write their persuasive essays on a lined piece of paper and discuss ideas with their neighbors. 

 

Students present their debates to the class (also being recorded on the microphone).

Students writing their persuasive essay and discussing with their neighbors.

Students presenting their debate to the class

Closure
20 minutes
Having students listen to their recordings. Students listening to their recordings and grading themselves on their persuasive checklist.
Beyond  Students find recent U.S. Supreme court cases online or in the newspaper and we discuss the decisions in class Students finding real cases online or in the newspaper and discuss with the other students in class

Special Needs of students are considered in this lesson: 

Students are put into groups that will benefit learning for all types of learners and special needs. Each student has a different part in the debate so all students will participate in the writing of the essay and the debate. The teacher will also provide persuasive essay writing outlines to help ELL and special needs students.

Extension Ideas:

The extension idea for this unit is to do a class debate each month on different topics so we can extend this unit by using our other topics we cover in history for debate such as a Patriot and Loyalist debate or who really discovered the New World debate. This lesson can be extended by finding other recent U.S. Supreme court cases to debate.
 

Materials, Resources, and References

Materials and Resources Needed:

1. Microphone
2. Computer
3. Audacity recording program

References: 

Courts in the Classroom: http://www2.courtinfo.ca.gov/lre2/CourtsLRE/index.html

Audacity recording download: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
 

Outline of Unit Plan

Context of the Unit: 

This unit is a year-long unit that will focus on a persuasive debate every month. The previous debate before this one was a pop culture debate to give the students an introduction about debates and persuasive writing. Each debate will be recorded and podcasted on my website. Also, the students will write persuasive essays to show them how a debate is formatted and to provide content for their debate.   

Context of this Lesson within the Unit:

This lesson follows the unit on the formation of the U.S. government and the U.S. Constitution in the student’ social studies textbook. Also, this lesson follows the first lesson of the students’ pop culture debates and a persuasive writing lesson.

Standards Addressed in the Unit: 

Language Arts Standards:

Writing:

2.4  Write persuasive letters or compositions: 
       a.  State a clear position in support of a proposal. 
       b.  Support a position with relevant evidence.
       c.  Follow a simple organizational pattern. 
       d.  Address reader concerns.

Speaking:

2.2  Deliver informative presentations about an important idea, issue, or event by the following  means:
       a. Frame questions to direct the investigation.
       b. Establish a controlling idea or topic. 
       c. Develop the topic with simple facts, details, examples, and explanations.

History Standards:

5.5 Students explain the causes of the American Revolution:
      3.  Understand the people and events associated with the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence and the document's significance, including the key political concepts it embodies, the origins of those concepts, and its role in severing ties with Great Britain. 

5.7  Students describe the people and events associated with the development of the U.S.   Constitution and analyze the Constitution's significance as the foundation of the American republic:

      3. Understand the fundamental principles of American constitutional democracy, including how the government derives its power from the people and the primacy of individual liberty. 

      4. Understand how the Constitution is designed to secure our liberty by both empowering and limiting central government and compare the powers granted to citizens, Congress, the president, and the Supreme Court with those reserved to the states. 

      5. Discuss the meaning of the American creed that calls on citizens to safeguard the liberty of individual Americans within a unified nation, to respect the rule of law, and to preserve the Constitution.

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