Studying Conflicting Interpretations: Perspectives on Plessy v. Ferguson: Part 1 | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M3B:U1:L5

Studying Conflicting Interpretations: Perspectives on Plessy v. Ferguson: Part 1

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can cite text-based evidence that provides the strongest support for an analysis of informational text. (RI.8.1)
  • I can determine an author’s point of view or purpose in informational text. (RI.8.6)

Supporting Targets

  • I can cite evidence to analyze the importance of the Plessy v. Ferguson case.
  • I can determine the court’s point of view in its decision on the Plessy v. Ferguson case.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Structured notes, Chapter 4, pages 63–81 (from homework)
  • Exit Ticket

Agenda

AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

     A. Building Background Knowledge: The Five W’s of the Plessy v. Ferguson Case (7 minutes)

     B. Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

2. Work Time

     A. Reading for Gist: The Plessy v. Ferguson Decision (12 minutes)

     B. Vocabulary Review and Rereading the Text (15 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

     A. Comparing Understandings of the Plessy v. Ferguson Decision (8 minutes)

4. Homework

     A. Reread Plessy v. Ferguson: Key Excerpts from the Court’s Decision and highlight unknown words. Define each word in the organizer on the last page of the handout.

  • Continue to reinforce students’ ability to talk about race in a respectful and mature manner. See Lesson 1 supporting materials for any aspects of this issue you may wish to reinforce with students.
  • This lesson will further students’ understanding of the post–Civil War South by providing primary source evidence of segregationist legislation. It also deepens their understanding of the 14th Amendment, which they studied in Lesson 4.
  • Students begin building background knowledge about the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case of 1896, which was an instrumental decision in the establishment of racial segregation in public facilities. By understanding the case and its importance, students will be able to put into perspective the integration of Central High School, as well as the mindsets of both the pro- and anti-segregationists who surrounded Carlotta Walls during her time at the school.
  • Students read the court’s decision in this lesson and in Lesson 6. In Lesson 7, they read key excerpts from Justice John Marshall Harlan’s dissenting opinion. These lessons scaffold toward the mid-unit assessment in which students will write an on-demand response to this question: “How do the court’s decision and the dissenting opinion in the Plessy v. Ferguson case disagree on the interpretation of the 13th and 14th Amendments?”
  • For background on Plessy v. Ferguson, students watch a video: Plessy v. Ferguson. This is to give students a clear and accessible idea of what the case is about so that they can dig into the complex primary source of the court’s decision as well as the dissenting opinion.
  • Bear in mind that YouTube, about.com, and other website links may incorporate inappropriate content via comment banks and ads. Although some lessons include these links as the most efficient means to view content in preparation for the lesson, be sure to preview links, and/or use a filter service, such as SafeShare.tv, for viewing these links in the classroom.
  • Key excerpts have been selected from this primary source, the result is a series of complex paragraphs from the Plessy v. Ferguson decision that preserve the intended message of the text while reducing its overall length. In this lesson, students read the excerpts from the decision for gist. In the next lesson, they will read the excerpts closely, answering text-dependent questions. Be sure that students realize that they are studying key excerpts from Plessy v. Ferguson and not the entire decision. This lesson serves to begin to lay a foundation of understanding for this important document. Consider differentiating instruction to allow advanced students to study the entire document, which they likely encounter again in social studies class, high school, or college. 
  • This lesson is the first of a two-lesson sequence. The study of the court’s decision is split into two lessons given the complexity of its vocabulary. In this lesson, students are exposed to key legal phrases and concepts during Work Time A. For homework, they will identify and define additional unfamiliar words, which they will use in a Quiz-Quiz-Trade protocol during the Lesson 6 Opening. In the Work Time of the next lesson, students will complete a close reading of the decision, analyzing yet another round of important words and phrases. The layers of vocabulary work will allow students to access this complex text in a scaffolded, yet authentic way.
  • Remind students that the decision of the Supreme Court in 1896 shows important historical context for segregation in the United States. Students will study the case to better understand the world Carlotta Walls lived in, and they should not consider the opinion of the court to be an acceptable conclusion in the present day. When students summarize the court’s decision in their own words, remind them they are giving an objective summary of a decision that is no longer constitutionally supported by the laws of the United States.
  • Review: Fist to Five in Checking for Understanding techniques (see Appendix).
  • Post: Learning targets.

Vocabulary

primary source, justices, public facilities, due process of law, equal protection of law, exercise of police/legislative power, badge of inferiority, prejudices, voluntary consent of individuals

Materials

  • Plessy v. Ferguson Five W’s note-catcher (one per student)
  • Plessy v. Ferguson Five W’s note-catcher (for teacher reference)
  • Document camera
  • Plessy v. Ferguson: Key Excerpts from the Court’s Decision (one per student)
  • Plessy v. Ferguson vocabulary strips (one per student)
  • Vocabulary Preview: Order of Appointments (one for display)
  • Modeling Gist: Key Excerpts from the Court’s Decision (one for display)
  • Exit Ticket: Comparing Understandings (one per student)

Opening

OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Building Background Knowledge: The Five W’s of the Plessy v. Ferguson Case (7 minutes

  • Tell students that over the next few lessons they are going to read excerpts of some important documents from the time of the events in A Mighty Long Way to deepen their understanding of the issues described in the book.
  • Tell students they will now watch a video on Plessy v. Ferguson, an important court case decided by the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States. Learning about the case will help them better understand how United States laws affected Carlotta Walls and the struggle to integrate Central High School.
  • Distribute the Plessy v. Ferguson Five W’s note-catcher.  Tell students they will use this note-catcher to record key information about the case before reading the court’s decision.
  • Share with students that using the five W’s, Who, What, When, Where, and Why, can help them summarize the most important parts of an event. Ask students to help you list the five W’s aloud.Point out the categories on the note-catcher: Who? What? Where? When? Why? Invite students to take a moment to read the questions within each box on their own.
  • Tell students you will play the video twice. The first time, they may simply watch it. The second time, they should jot answers to the five W’s questions.
  • Play video: Plessy v. Ferguson.
  • Before playing the video a second time, give students a moment to review the questions on the note-catcher.
  • Share with students that you will play the video again, and that they should complete the note-catcher while watching. When the video is over, give students a moment to finish writing.
  • Invite students to turn and talk about their responses and add to their note-catchers as necessary. Circulate and check for understanding. See Plessy v. Ferguson Five W’s note-catcher (for teacher reference) for sample student responses.
  • Refocus the whole group and commend students’ work in jotting down and discussing key information about the Plessy v. Ferguson case. Display the Plessy v. Ferguson Five W’s note-catcher (for teacher reference) with the document camera and review the information with students, clarifying where necessary. Be sure students have a grasp of the case before continuing to Work Time B.
  • Consider providing sentence starters or partially completed answers on the Five W’s note-catcher for students who struggle.

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

  • Explain to students that today’s lesson will help prepare them for their mid- and end of unit assessments. They will study the Plessy v. Ferguson case today and in the next lesson. This will help them to prepare the speaking notes they will use in a Fishbowl discussion later in the unit. Today, their goal is to gather background knowledge about the case and start unraveling the gist of the court’s decision.
  • Read the learning targets aloud to students:

*   “I can cite evidence to analyze the importance of the Plessy v. Ferguson case.”

*   “I can determine the court’s point of view in its decision on the Plessy v. Ferguson case.”

  • Ask students to show a thumbs-up if they know where today’s lessons is heading and if they understand the learning targets they will need to meet in the lesson. Clarify as needed.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reading for Gist: The Plessy v. Ferguson Decision (12 minutes)

  • Distribute Plessy v. Ferguson: Key Excerpts from the Court’s Decision.
  •  Tell students they will now get a chance to read a primary source: excerpts from the actual decision of the court on the Plessy v. Ferguson case. The decision was written in 1896. Ask:

*   “What is a primary source?”

  • Call on one or two volunteers to answer. Listen for them to explain that a primary source is a text that was written during the time period studied whose author offers an inside view of a time period or event. Clarify that a primary source is a direct way to study a time period and gives the reader a firsthand look at what was happening at the time. Ask:

*   “What are some examples of primary sources?”

  • Cold call on a few students to respond. Possible responses include: diaries, speeches, letters, autobiographies, and news and film footage.
  • Remind students that looking at primary sources is a great way to gain knowledge about history without having to consider the possible bias of a historian or author who has written about it after the fact.
  • Remind students that the case was decided by justices—judges of the Supreme Court, which is the United States’ highest court. Justices are nominated by the President of the United States. There was only one justice who was against the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, Justice John Marshall Harlan. Today, students read the court’s overall decision; in Lesson 7, they will read Justice Harlan’s opinion on the case. Clarify that what they will read today is only one side of the case.
  • Explain to students that the case relates to segregation. Remind students that they discussed this word in Lesson 1. Ask:

*   “What does ‘segregation’ mean?”

  • Call on a volunteer to answer. Clarify if needed, emphasizing that segregation laws dictated the separation of African Americans and white Americans in public facilities and places. Ask:

*   “What are some examples of public facilities?”

  • Cold call on a few students to answer. Listen for them to mention places such as movie theaters and restaurants, as well as facilities like bathrooms, water fountains, busses, schools, etc. Reinforce for students that Plessy v. Ferguson relates to a specific case of segregation.
  • Tell students that this is a complex text they will read multiple times. This time, they will read to figure out the gist of the court’s decision.
  • Share with students that this first time through the text you will read aloud to them. Direct students to the key vocabulary words that are defined on the bottom of Plessy v. Ferguson: Key Excerpts from the Court’s Decision in the form of footnotes. Invite students to refer to the footnotes when they hear a word they do not know as you read aloud. Read the text aloud with expression, modeling fluency and building meaning with your voice.
  • When reviewing graphic organizers or recording forms, consider using a document camera to display the document for students who struggle with auditory processing.
  • Providing models of expected work supports all students, but especially supports challenged learners.
  • Especially for ELLs and struggling readers, consider providing additional support around the multiple meanings of the word “justice” throughout the module. Students may need clarification that “justice” in this case does not refer to fairness, or a legal process; it is a title used for the judges of the Supreme Court.
  • Discussion Appointments are a way for students to work with different classmates, leading to mixed-ability groupings. Mixed-ability groupings of students for regular discussion and close reading exercises will provide a collaborative and supportive structure for close reading of complex texts.

B. Vocabulary Review and Rereading the Text (15 minutes)

  • Tell students that they will now have a chance to review some of the challenging legal vocabulary in the court case. Inform them that legal language is often very complex and that going over vocabulary is a great place to start analyzing a case.
  • Pass out one Plessy v. Ferguson vocabulary strip to each student. Tell students they will now participate in a vocabulary swapping activity. They should be prepared to meet briefly with each of their discussion partners, share their vocabulary word or phrase, and record the definition of their word and their partner’s in the chart on page 2 of Plessy v. Ferguson: Key Excerpts from the Court’s Decision.
  • Before beginning the activity, give students a moment to read their word or phrase and its definition and do a quick “word sketch” of what they visualize when they think about the meaning of their word or phrase. Reassure students by telling them they will not be judged on their artwork; the sketch is just a quick way of helping them and their partners visualize the important vocabulary.
  • Display the Vocabulary Preview: Order of Appointments. Tell students that they will now have a chance to meet with each of their discussion partners in the order listed to share their word or phrase and learn and record a new one. There will be a 1-minute time limit for each meeting. During the meeting, students should read aloud their word or phrase and its definition to their partner and show him or her the image. Each partner should record the word and its definition in the chart on page 2 of the key excerpts handout.
  • Instruct students to begin by meeting with their Kansas City discussion partners. After 1 minute has passed, instruct students to meet with their next partner. Repeat the process until all students have met with each of their partners.
  • When students have met with each of their partners, instruct them to return to their original seats. Refocus whole group and ask them to show a Fist to Five to rate their understanding of the vocabulary, five meaning they understood all of the words and a fist meaning they only understood one or two of the words. Review vocabulary words or phrases if necessary.
  • Next, invite students to rejoin their Kansas City discussion partner to reread Plessy v. Ferguson: Key Excerpts from the Court’s Decision quietly together and to pause at the end of each section to write the gist in the space provided. Encourage students to use a pencil as they write and to leave some room in the boxes so that they can revise and add to their responses. Tell students they should work individually during this part of Work Time, but reassure them that there will be time to compare their ideas with a partner.
  • When about 10 minutes have passed, invite students to share their responses with their Kansas City partner. Students should add to or revise their own writing as they discuss the gist with their partners. Circulate and clarify as needed.
  • For students who are resistant to drawing, consider allowing them to create a pose or quick tableau for the word, rather than a drawing.
  • For ELLs and struggling readers, most of the vocabulary words may be unfamiliar. For these students, providing an illustration or image would be helpful instead of asking them to draw one. In addition, consider asking these students to use the words in sentences since they will have both the definition and the illustration.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Comparing Understandings of the Plessy v. Ferguson Decision (8 minutes)

  • Invite students to show a Fist to Five to indicate their understanding of the gist of the court’s decision. Remind them that a fist means they did not understand the gist and a five means they understood each section thoroughly. Reassure students by telling them they will be able to compare their work with a model to clarify their understanding of the gist.
  • Display Modeling Gist: Key Excerpts from the Court’s Decision. Instruct students to compare their work with the model, adding to their own writing as necessary.
  • Distribute the Exit Ticket: Comparing Understandings. Ask students to share their responses in writing. Tell students to refer to the numbers in front of each excerpt to answer Questions 1 and 2.
  • Thank students for their hard work with this complex text. Tell them their hard work will pay off tomorrow, when they zoom in for a close read of the decision.
  • Consider using the Exit Ticket: Comparing Understandings to help gather information about how to support students’ understanding of Plessy v. Ferguson in the next lesson.

Homework

HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
  • Reread Plessy v. Ferguson: Key Excerpts from the Court’s Decision and highlight unknown words. Define each word in the organizer on the last page of the handout.
  • Since there are many difficult words in the text, consider giving students a concrete number of words to define, such as five or six.

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