This current lesson will satisfy the requirements set by the state in the standard, SS.S.11.02 Civics. Essentially, this introduces 11th grade students to the civic nature of democracy and the United States Government. The lesson will help students "outline and evaluate and analyze the origins and meaning of the principles, ideals and core democratic values expressed in the foundational documents of the United States (Ideals of United States Democracy)" (Teaching History, 2014). It is crucial within 11th grade to introduce students to the democratic process through examination of the nation's history. Students will be able to understand how laws are made and altered as they are needed based on a changing national population. The specific standard within this larger set that will be addressed is SS.O.11.02.01. Here, students will be able to "explain the reasons for amendments ratified since 1900 and analyze their effects on American society" (Teaching History, 2014). By examining the women's suffrage movement, students will be able to understand the process of suffrage and how the Constitution can be changed to fit the needs of a changing public.
In order to satisfy an interdisciplinary approach, the lesson here will also use RLA.S.11.3. Listening, Speaking and Media Literacy in English and Language Arts. Here, the standard has expectations that "students will apply listening, speaking and media literacy skills and strategies to communicate with a variety of audiences and for different purposes" (West Virginia Department of Education, 2014). The lesson will require students to analyze the historical documents and films they are exposed to in a debate and essay format. Thus, the lesson is satisfying the following standard:
communicate using the transactional process to include the components of speaker, listener, message, channel, feedback, and noise
(West Virginia Department of Education, 2014)
Overall, the objective of this lesson is to expose students to the democratic process by examining a specific event in history when women fought and won the right to vote in national and local elections. The lesson focuses on the adaptation of the Constitution as a living document to really meet the needs of the American public as they continue to change and develop. Students will "research changes in the Constitution and evaluate their impact," as well as "judge changes in the Constitution" in order to make their own assumptions about its nature (Teaching History, 2014). By combining English requirements into the lesson, students will also be exposed to argumentative style writing so that they can take historical information and generate their own educated opinion about key political and historical issues. From this perspective, "students will grow in their literacy experience as they learn to research, analyze, and cite textual-based evidence from multiple sources to support an argument or viewpoint" (Williams et al., 2013). It is the creation of the students' own views that is so essential within the context of this lesson plan objective. The final assessment essay will force students to have to acknowledge an opposing opinion and then disprove it utilizing facts and evidence to secure their own opinion as superior to the opposing opinion.
The lesson helps expose older students to the process of government. The concept here is that in 11th grade, students are almost at the age to actually start participating within the democratic process. It is important to show students that their participation can help make crucial changes that can impact their own lives for the better. Essentially, "exploring the content at the conceptual level will lead to higher level thinking by students because concepts require them to process at a higher intellectual level" (Hillburn, 2011). This is a perfect lesson to help students make connections to their own lives and how they have been advanced through the democratic process.
The content to be covered in this lesson is the women's suffrage movement. Here, students will be introduced to the era before women could vote as a way to help them understand how this put women in a place of second-class citizenship. The lesson will then turn to evaluating the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 as the beginning of a serious and successful women's suffrage movement. From there, content will be discussed up until World War I, where "students [will] have the opportunity to look at primary documents from the movement to develop an understanding of changing women's roles within the workforce" (Williams et al., 2013). Then, the lesson will examine the democratic process that got the Nineteenth Amendment passed, and with it secured women's role as participants in American democracy. Primary documents for both sides of the argument will be available so that the assigned group debating against women's suffrage will have evidence to draw from.
The textbook The Americans (Danton et al., 2008)
The PBS documentary Not for ourselves alone: The story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (Burnes & Barnes, 1999)
Day 1: Students will watch the documentary and review the content from the text. They will then be assigned primary sources to read as homework in preparation for the next day's activities.
Day 2: Students will be broken up into groups, one of which is arguing for women to have the right to vote, and the other against this position. Students will be given a perspective based on the popular opinions of people from the 1800s. The class period will be allocated for each group to structure their debate.
Day 3: Groups will debate each other from their unique perspectives and evidence from documents and other sources.
Day 4: Students will be required to write their own personal essay describing who they thought won the debate and why, utilizing primary sources and information from the text. The structure of the essays will be outlined, with a four paragraph structure including and introduction, opposition paragraph, argument, and finally a conclusion. The structure of a thesis will be reviewed and then half of the class period will be devoted to allowing the students to start their essay. The remainder of the essays will be completed as homework and turned in the following school period.
Evaluation and Assessment
The final essay will serve as a method for assessing students' participation and engagement. Thus, "at the end of the activity, the learners will need to be able to develop a written reflective essay that incorporates their understanding of the topic and supports their claims" (Williams et al., 2013). This will be graded based on the evidence provided and the strength of their arguments for who won the debate. Students will have to explain the positions of the two sides, putting the opposing opinion first within their structured essay and then appropriately disproving it using evidence from the primary sources and the text. Thus, these essays will help assess the student's internalization of the text and primary sources as well as their ability to make and defend a claim against an opposing opinion. The essay will be graded on the strength of the thesis, use of evidence from the texts and PBS documentary, and overall cohesiveness and appropriate discussion of the topic.
Students with ESL and learning disabilities challenges will be paired with higher performing students. This will help them get the support they need to perform well in the debate. Every student will be responsible for presenting a piece of the debate, which will ensure that these more challenged students are not being sidelined by other students in their group. For the essay, a sample essay will be provided to students so that challenged students have a model from which they can draft their own versions.
Lesson 2: Social Studies in the News
This lesson plan will draw on material from the standard SS.S.11.01. Essentially, this secures a sense of independence that is appropriate for 11th graders. According to the research, this standard is meant for students to "develop the participatory skills of interacting, monitoring and influencing that are essential for informed, effective and responsible citizenship, including participation in civic life to shape public policy" (Teaching History, 2014). Government and social studies does not stop at the classroom door. Students live in a world where it is all around them. This lesson plan will help them recognize some of the fundamental facts they learn in social studies in the context of their own, modern lives. Thus, it is important for students to "recognize and communicate the responsibilities, privileges and rights of United States citizens (Civic Life)" (Teaching History, 2014). This standard is the highlight of the lesson plan.
However, there will also be English standards drafted into the lesson plan as well in order to ensure that the lesson is truly interdisciplinary. For the English requirements of the lesson, the state standard RLA.S.11.1 will be used. From this perspective, "students will apply reading skills and strategies to inform, to perform a task and to read for literacy experience by identifying and using grade appropriate essential reading components…