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Lesson Plan

That's Not Fair! Examining Civil Liberties With the U.S. Supreme Court

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That's Not Fair! Examining Civil Liberties With the U.S. Supreme Court

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Seven or eight 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lauretta D. Doyle

Hollandale, Wisconsin


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology






  • Computers with Internet access

  • PowerPoint software

  • LCD projector (optional)

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1. Assign students to read Rights of the Accused or a comparable chapter in their social studies or civics textbooks. You may want to have a discussion with students about this reading before beginning the lesson with the goal of helping students understand the term civil rights.

2. Visit the Supreme Court of the United States website. In particular, you will want to review About the Supreme Court and A Brief Overview of the Supreme Court; you may have students read this last section as well, or may just take notes to share during Session 1.

3. Peruse the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website, as well as the site for your state (e.g., ACLU of Wisconsin). Learn how to navigate through these websites while familiarizing yourself with the different issues that the ACLU deals with around the country.

4. Prepare to review with students some note-taking and summarizing techniques for research. A 10-minute minilesson on two-column note-taking, group summaries, and reading strategies should suffice.

5. If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, reserve six sessions in your school's computer lab for Sessions 1-6. You will need one computer for every three students. Bookmark the ACLU websites, Dictionary.com, and the Legal Dictionary on the computers your students will be using. Make sure these computers also have PowerPoint software installed on them.

6. Assign students to heterogeneous groups of three. Make a copy of The Essential Questions Worksheet, the U.S. Civil Liberties Project Rubric, and the Group Process Assessment Worksheet for each student in the class.

7. Make preparations for students' presentations by arranging to have access to a computer with PowerPoint and either a large monitor or an LCD projector during Sessions 7 and 8. Invite any guests that you may want to view the final presentations.

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