The Power of One Decision: Brown v. Board of Education

When minority students decided to take their challenge of the “separate but equal” doctrine to the Supreme Court, the 1954 decision handed down by the court in Brown v. Board of Education and enforced by the executive branch, changed their lives and America forever. In this lesson plan, based on the Annenberg Classroom video “A Conversation on the Constitution: Brown v. Board of Education,” students gain insight into decision-making at the Supreme Court, learn about the people behind the case, construct a persuasive argument, and evaluate the significance of Brown v. Board of Education.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Brown v. Board of Education

May 17, 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. This landmark Supreme Court decision declared that laws establishing separate public schools for black and white children were unconstitutional. To support teachers as they commemorate this important anniversary in their classes, the Share My Lesson team has selected a variety of free lesson plans, educational resources and classroom materials about equity, particularly in schools.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

60-Second Civics Podcasts

60-Second Civics is a daily podcast that provides a quick and convenient way for listeners to learn about our nation’s government, the Constitution, and our history. The podcast explores themes related to civics and government, the constitutional issues behind the headlines, and the people and ideas that formed our nation’s history and government. The show’s content is primarily derived from the Center for Civic Education’s education for democracy curricula, including We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, Foundations of Democracy, and Elements of Democracy. It’s easy to subscribe! Listen on iTunes or Stitcher or subscribe via RSS.

  • Resource Type: Audio
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

A Conversation on Brown v. Board of Education

Supreme Court Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy discuss with high school students this landmark case that ended racial segregation in schools. They explore the background of the case, the role of Thurgood Marshall, how Brown v. Board of Education was decided, and the events following the unanimous ruling that said that “separate education facilities are inherently unequal.” A PDF lesson plan accompanies this video.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Special Needs/Language Focus, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Equity in Public Education Funding

This lesson will explore the question of equity in funding public education for K-12 students. It will provide a historical context for public education in America: how equality of education has been understood and the ways in which states have been permitted to fund it. In addition, it will introduce the idea of public policy—what it is and how to assess its costs and benefits.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

This case summary provides teachers with everything they need to teach about Brown v. Board of Education (1954). 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

Comprehensive Sex Education

This lesson discusses whether Illinois should pass a law that requires all public schools to provide comprehensive sex education in grades 6-12. In other words, should schools be required to teach students about both abstinence and contraceptives as possible prevention strategies for unintended teen pregnancy and STIs? Students will consider arguments supporting and opposing a comprehensive sex education law by deliberating the question using Structured Academic Controversy (SAC).

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Brown v. Board of Education (1954) eLesson

After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment was passed to grant citizenship to former slaves and protect them from civil rights violations in their home states. Public schools were relatively rare throughout the United States, but were often segregated by race where they existed. The same Congress that passed the 14th Amendment created racially segregated schools for the District of Columbia. In the 20th century, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) began a litigation campaign designed to bring an end to state mandated segregation, calling attention to the shabby accommodations provided for blacks, as well as arguing the damaging psychological effects that segregation had on black school children. One case was brought on behalf of Linda Brown, a third-grader from Topeka, Kan.

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

Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)

Under what conditions does the state’s interest in promoting compulsory education override parents’ First Amendment right to free exercise of religion? This resource is a case summary of Wisconsin v. Yoder, which tested the right of parents to withdraw their child from school for religious reasons.

  • Resource Type: ESL Appropriate, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12