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Brown v. Board of Education

To help educators teach about the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, Education World offers this special lesson planning resource. Included: Links to more than 3 dozen lessons.

In the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling on May 17, 1954, the Court unanimously ruled that it was unconstitutional to separate students on the basis of race.

More Resources

Be sure to see these resources from the Education World archives:
* Black History Month Archive
* Teaching @ Tolerance
* Ten Activities to Improve Students' Self-Concepts

"Brown broke the back of American apartheid." So said Theodore Shore, associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "It was a case that finally breathed life into the 14th Amendment for African-Americans."

LESSONS FOR TEACHING ABOUT BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION

Education World has hunted down the best online lesson plans we could find for teaching students about this important case. One of the first places we looked was on Tolerance.org. There, we found a number of Brown v. Board of Education classroom activities and resources for students in grades 7-12:

The Landmark Supreme Court Cases, a joint offering from Street Law and The Supreme Court Historical Society, presents a handful of lesson plan ideas:

The New York Times Learning Network offers several lessons of interest:

  • Learning the Hard Way
    Explore instances of segregated education around the world; support and refute the idea through debate and persuasive-essay writing. (Grades 6-12)
  • Revisiting 'Separate But Equal'
    Examine the notion of "separate but equal" by reading the New York Times front page from the Brown v. Board of Education decision and by researching different events, legislation, and organizations that influenced desegregation. (Grades 6-12)
  • Schools of Thought on Segregation: Exploring Differing Viewpoints
    Analyze how education in America affects its youth and the nation by assessing a variety of ways in which American courts and communities are dealing with the unanimous Supreme Court ruling to end "separate but equal" education. (Grades 6-12)

ADDITIONAL LESSONS FROM MANY SOURCES

Following are additional lessons to extend your students' understanding of the history and ramifications of Brown v. Board of Education. (Image below courtesy of Joe Wolf via Flickr.)

Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan: Documents Related to Brown v. Board of Education
Use primary source material from the National Archives to learn about the 14th Amendment, primarily the equal protection clause, as well as the powers of the Supreme Court under Article III of the U.S. Constitution. (Grades 6-12)

From Canterbury to Little Rock: The Struggle for Educational Equality for African Americans
This lesson uses the Web sites of the Prudence Crandall House and Little Rock High School (both registered National Landmarks) as a basis for comparing events relating to African-American education in Canterbury, Connecticut, in the 1830s and Little Rock, Arkansas, in the 1950s. (Grades 5-12)

From Jim Crow To Linda Brown: A Retrospective of the African-American Experience from 1897 to 1953
Simulate the Afro-American Council Meeting in 1898. Create a similar meeting of the Afro-American Council prior to the Brown case in 1954. (Grades 8-12)

Integrating Central High: The Melba Patillo Story
Read the story of one of the "Little Rock Nine." Imagine yourself in Melba's shoes. Think about being in a situation in which you are fighting to change the way things have always been. (Grades 5-7)

Brown v. the Board of Education
This activity booklet provides a summary and background for teachers, plus activities for young students. The background section can be used as a teaching tool for students in grades 3-up. (Grades 2-8)

Dialogue on Brown v. Board of Education
This resource from the American Bar Association (ABA) provides questions for starting a dialogue about what has been required -- and what has been achieved -- in pursuit of the goal of "equal protection for all Americans."

From Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education: The Supreme Court Rules on School Desegregation
Study the history of school desegregation legislation. Should the United States government legislate desegregation? Is racial mixing desirable and/or necessary in our educational system? (Grades 9-12)

Still More Lessons

Be sure to see these resources from the Education World archives:

Black History Month Archive

Teaching About Tolerance

Ten Activities to Improve Students' Self-Concepts

School Desegregation and Prejudice in the United States
This unit offers a variety of activities that can be used as a whole or modified to fit a particular classroom situation. (Grade 5-8)

14th Amendment -- Equal Protection, Due Process, Citizenship
Gather and present evidence that the United States has or has not made progress in its efforts to apply Jefferson's words that "all men are created equal." (Grades 6-12)

Segregation Before Brown
Create a color-coded map to illustrate segregation in the United States. Consider reasons for regional differences in segregation practices. (Grades 4-8)

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

Updated 01/27/2014

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