From Provocative to Productive: Teaching Controversial Topics

Get first steps for creating a respectful yet vibrant environment for students to explore diverse ideas on controversial topics, from politics to profanity, religion to racism. Four guidelines and a debate leader checklist provide a foundation for those seeking to steer productive conversations about controversial subjects.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

Does the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel in criminal cases extend to defendants in state courts, even in cases in which the death penalty is not at issue?

This case summary provides teachers with everything they need to teach about Gideon v. Wainwright (1963). It contains background information in the form of summaries and important vocabulary at three different reading levels, as well a review of relevant legal concepts, diagram of how the case moved through the court system, and summary of the decision. This resource also includes nine classroom-ready activities that teach about the case using interactive methods.

  • Resource Type: ESL Appropriate, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Special Needs/Language Focus
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Alabama v. Shelton (2002)

Does the Sixth Amendment right to appointed counsel apply to a defendant who was sentenced to a suspended sentence? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2002.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12