Building Background Knowledge: The Desegregation of Schools and Brown v. Board of Education | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M3B:U2:L1

Building Background Knowledge: The Desegregation of Schools and Brown v. Board of Education

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can determine the central ideas of an informational text. (RI.8.2)
  • I can cite text-based evidence that provides the strongest support for an analysis of literary text. (RI.8.1)

Supporting Targets

  • I can determine the gist of excerpts of Brown v Board of Education.
  • I can use evidence from Brown v. Board of Education to support my understanding of the text and the desegregation of schools in the South.

Ongoing Assessment

  • A Mighty Long Way structured notes, Chapter 6, pages 99-123 (from homework)

Agenda

AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A.  Engaging the Reader: Sharing Structured Notes (3 minutes)

     B.  Reviewing the Learning Target (2 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A.  Building Background Knowledge: Brown v. Board of Education (8 minutes)

     B.  Reading Brown v. Board of Education Excerpts (27 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  Reviewing the Learning Targets and Previewing Homework (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A.  Read Chapter 7, pages 124-140 in A Mighty Long Way and complete the structured notes.

  • In the first half of this unit, Carlotta's story becomes the background as students focus more on building background knowledge about the time period in which she lived, and the specific issues she faced. Specifically, students will engage with primary sources that give context to the greater Civil Rights movement such as the landmark court case Brown v. Board of Education and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Lessons include opportunities to help students note how Carlotta's story is tied to the events in national Civil Rights movement; encourage students to notice these connections whenever possible. 
  • Students begin to build background knowledge of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling that ended the Jim Crow era of U.S. history and initiated the civil rights movement. Students will work with this text across Lessons 1-3, first reading for gist (Lesson 1), then reading more closely (Lesson 2), and finally connecting to Carlotta's journey (Lesson 3). Although students have already encountered references to the Brown v. Board of Education case in A Mighty Long Way, the purpose of these lessons is to dig a little deeper into this landmark ruling. Preview Lessons 1-3, in order to have a sense of the unfolding of students' work with these excerpts.
  • Throughout the remainder of this module, students work with two central texts, A Mighty Long Way and Little Rock Girl 1957 (introduced in Lesson 3), as well as other primary sources. As students read from supplementary sources, keep in mind that transitioning between texts may be difficult, especially for struggling learners. It is important to contextualize each new text for students, remaining transparent about why they are studying each one, and how it fits into the larger picture of the module. In this case, help students understand that the purpose of reading Brown v. Board of Education is to understand the court ruling that reversed the "separate but equal" doctrine in education. The video clip for Work Time A is from a PBS documentary on the Supreme Court.
  • Please bear in mind that Youtube, social media video sites, and other website links may incorporate inappropriate content via comment banks and ads. While 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 actually viewing these links in the classroom.
  • Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the opinion of the court. Brown v. Board of Education was actually a combination of several cases that came before the court. The formal title of the court case is Oliver Brown, et al. v Board of Education of Topeka, et al., however it is most commonly referred to as Brown v Board of Education, therefore that is the terminology used throughout the module lessons. 
  • For the sake of time, students only read excerpts of the Chief Justice Warren's opinion in these lessons. The paragraphs that have been included develop Warren's central argument logically. For teacher reference, see the entire Warren opinion.
  • During Work Time B, be sure to orient students to several text features in the supporting material Brown v. Board of Education excerpts. Some text is bolded. The bolding is not part of the original transcript. Rather, bold is used to draw students' attention to specific paragraphs or portions of paragraphs that are most salient to the goals of the lesson. Some text is underlined. Similarly, this underlining is not part of the original transcript. Rather, underlining is used to focus students' attention on key vocabulary terms that students will work with in Lesson 2. And in the first paragraph, six court cases are italicized, which is part of the original document. It is common in judicial opinions to link a decision to previous cases, and to signal those cases with italics. The six court cases listed all have to do with the Fourteenth Amendment, which students studied in Unit 1.   
  • In this lesson, students work just to understand the "gist" of the excerpts. Due to the complexity of this text, students likely will not understand it thoroughly at the end Lesson 1.  Let them know that that's fine. Remind them that this is a very challenging primary source document (excerpts from a legal opinion), and that they will have another opportunity to reread it in the following lesson. Continue to reinforce that complex text, by its nature, needs repeated readings. And legal opinions are their own specialized form of complex text, which even most adults find very challenging. Encourage students, and give students specific positive feedback for their use of close reading strategies, and their willingness to persevere. 
  • During this unit, students will engage in many small group and partner discussions. They continue to use their Discussion Appointments introduced in Unit 1, Lesson 2. Consider seating arrangements that will allow for these ongoing opportunities for collaboration.
  • Opening B includes some explicit instruction regarding annotating text when reading for gist. Adjust as needed, based on whether your students are already familiar with annotating.

Vocabulary

excerpt, annotation

Materials

  • Brown v. Board of Education PBS documentary
  • QuickWrite #3 (one per student)
  • Brown v. Board of Education excerpts (one per student and one for display; see teaching notes above)
  • Steps for Getting the Gist (one for display)
  • Document camera
  • A Mighty Long Way Structured Notes, Chapter 7, pages 124-140 (one per student)
  • A Mighty Long Way Supported Structured Notes, Chapter 7, pages 124-140 (optional; for students needing extra support)
  • A Mighty Long Way Structured Notes Teacher's Guide, Chapter 7, pages 124-140 (for teacher reference)

Opening

OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Reader: Sharing Structured Notes (3 minutes)

  • Ask students to retrieve their homework, A Mighty Long Way structured notes, Chapter 6, pages 99-123, and sit with their Denver discussion partners. Direct students' attention to the final focus question from the homework.
  • Read the question aloud:

*   "In the chapter, how did the students who were kind to the black students show their kindness without drawing the abuse of the tormentors?"

  • Invite students to turn and talk with their discussion partner.
  • Cold call on a few students to share out their conclusions.
  • Opening the lesson by asking students to share their homework makes them accountable for completing it. It also gives you the opportunity to monitor which students have not been completing their homework.

B. Reviewing the Learning Target (2 minutes)

  • Invite students to follow along silently as you read the targets aloud:

*   I can determine the gist of excerpts of Brown v Board of Education.

*   I can use evidence from Brown v. Board of Education to support my understanding of the text and the desegregation of schools in the South.

  • Ask:

*   What was Brown v. Board of Education?

  • Listen for students to say that it was the Supreme Court decision that integrated schools for black and white students.
  • Prompt students to think for a moment about how this might connect to Carlotta and A Mighty Long Way.  After a minute, cold call on one or two students to share thier thinking. 
  • Listen for them to say something like "Carlotta is one of the first students to integrate Little Rock Central High School," or "Carlotta mentions Brown v Board earlier in the book when she recounts her decision to go to Little Rock Central High School."
  • If students have limited understanding of the case, reassure them that they will have a much clearer understanding after the next three lessons.
  • Discussing and clarifying the language of learning targets helps build content knowledge.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Building Background Knowledge: Brown v. Board of Education (8 minutes)

  • Show the Brown v. Board of Education PBS documentary video clip.
  • Distribute QuickWrite #3 and allow students a couple of minutes to answer the focus question.
  • Invite students to turn and talk with their partners to discuss their answers.
  • Ask for a few volunteers to share their responses. Listen for: "Brown v. Board of Education essentially deemed the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling unconstitutional and began the process of eliminating the Jim Crow laws in the South."

B. Reading Brown v. Board of Education Excerpts (27 minutes)

  • Distribute the Brown v. Board of Education excerpts.
  • Explain to students that they will be reading portions of the decision in the court case, Brown v. Board of Education and that when you read portions of a text, those portions are called excerpts. Orient students to key features of the excerpts:

-   Some text is bolded in order to draw their attention it, but the bolding is not part of the original transcript.

-   Some key vocabulary is underlined, but the underlining is not part of the original transcript. They will work with these words in Lesson 2.

-   The first paragraph lists six court cases (in italics). Explain that this is common in judicial opinions, to link a decision to previous cases.  In this case, they are all cases that have to do with the Fourteenth Amendment, which students engaged with in Unit 1.

  • Invite students to follow along as you read the excerpts aloud.
  • Let students know that they will now reread the Brown v. Board of Education excerpts for gist, which they are familiar with from reading other complex text.  Explain that for this text, they will follow a specific set of instructions to annotate during their gist reading, which will support their understanding of this judicial opinion.
  • Display Steps for Getting the Gist with a document camera to guide students through the process of getting the gist of these excerpts.
  • Before you begin, explain that an annotation is a brief comment that readers write next to text as they are reading.
  • Review Steps for Getting the Gist:
  1. Beginning with the first sentence of the first paragraph, underline ideas that are important. Above the line of text, note the ideas with an annotation.
  2. Circle unfamiliar words or phrases.
  3. Continue through the first paragraph.
  4. State the gist of the paragraph in your own words. Write it as a short phrase in the margin.
  5. Continue this process with each paragraph.
  • Display a copy of Brown v. Board of Education excerpts.
  • Model annotating the first bolded sentence of the excerpt, saying something like: "'The doctrine of "separate but equal" did not make its appearance in this Court until 1896 in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, supra, involving not education but transportation..' Based on that, I understand that Justice Warren is saying that the idea of 'separate but equal' didn't exist until Plessy v Ferguson.  Therefore, I will write an annotation that captures my understanding: "'separate but equal' first appeared in Plessy" above the sentence."
  • Direct students to take 10 minutes to work individually to reread all five paragraphs in Brown v. Board of Education excerpts, circle unfamiliar words and annotate.
  • After 10 minutes, prompt students to take 5 minutes to share their gist statements with their Denver discussion appointment partner.  If they notice that their gist statements are different, they should work together to revise their statements. 
  • After 5 minutes, refocus students whole class.  Cold call on a pair to share out the gist of the first paragraph.  Listen for them to say "The first paragraph is mainly about what the court has previously decided about the idea of 'separate but equal' that was established in Plessy v. Ferguson".  Repeat the cold call for each paragraph from the Brown v. Board of Education excerpts. Listen for students to say something like:

-   Paragraph 2: Justice Warren believes that education is very important for many reasons, including providing every citizen with equal opportunities. 

-   Paragraph 3: Justice Warren is arguing that segregated schools discriminate against African-Americans, even if all the physical parts of the schools are equal.

-   Paragraph 4: Justice Warren says that the laws segregating the schools impact African-American children so they think that they are inferior to white children. 

-   Paragraph 5: Justice Warren states the court's decision in this case: that segregated schools violate African-American students' Fourteenth Amendment right of equal protection under the law.  

  • As students share their gist statements with the class, ensure that they have a correct understanding of the text so far.  If students share inaccurate gist statements, applaud their courage for speaking up and be sure to correct their understanding so that they, as well as the rest of the class, understand the gist of the court's decision correctly.
  • Reading text aloud with fluency helps all students access the text regardless of their own fluency levels.
  • Allowing students to share their ideas for the gist helps all students revise their thinking about the text if needed.
  • Projecting the steps to follow during Work Time helps students monitor their own progress.

Closing & Assessments

Closing

A. Reviewing the Learning Targets and Previewing Homework (5 minutes)

  • Ask students to rate their progress toward meeting the learning target using a Fist to Five:
  • "How well did you determine the gist of excerpts of Brown v Board of Education?"
  • Note any students who showed a fist or a one.  Be sure to check in with those students during the close read of the Brown v. Board excerpts in the next lesson.  
  • Distribute A Mighty Long Way structured notes, Chapter 7, pages 124-140 and preview the focus question.  Remind students that they need to use evidence from the text in their homework response.

Homework

HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
  • Read Chapter 7, pages 124-140 in A Mighty Long Way and complete the structured notes.
  • Provide struggling learners with the supported structured notes for additional scaffolding as they read the memoir.

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