This lesson plan adheres to New York State Learning Standard 1- History of the United States and New York, Elementary Level, Key Idea #1. Additionally, this lesson plan corresponds with the National Social Studies Curriculum Standards thematic strands of time, continuity and change & civic ideals and practices.
Show Martin Luther King, Jr. photograph (image #101 from The African Americans) by Ben Fernandez to students. Ask students what is happening in the photograph. Who is the center of attention? When was the photograph taken?
Students will be able to analyze primary sources (photographs and speeches) and write a definition of American Democracy.
Since the founding of the United States, African Americans have faced discrimination and limits on their freedom. Specifically, slavery, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement are turning points in the history of Blacks in America. This lesson focuses on the ideal of democracy in the United States.
Essential Information - In November 1863, President Lincoln dedicated the Union military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The speech he gave, the Gettysburg Address, summarized the meaning of the Civil War. One hundred years later, in August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech at the March on Washington. The speech he gave, “I Have a Dream”, summarized the meaning of the Civil Rights movement.
Activities - After student discussion of the Martin Luther King Jr. photograph write on the front board “What is Democracy?” Distribute copies of the Gettysburg Address and the “I Have a Dream” speech (available online). Instruct students to write down key words from each speech that define Democracy and list them on the front board. Using The African Americans kit have students sort images into two categories; democratic and undemocratic.
Strategies - This lesson is designed to allow students to work as partners, in groups, or alone depending on group size and skill level. Also, pre-select images for the sorting activity carefully according to the maturity level of students.
Explain that the Martin Luther King Jr. photograph is democratic because it illustrates freedom of speech. Choose another photograph from the collection that shows segregation and explain why it is undemocratic.
CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING
Students sort photographs into two areas democratic and undemocratic. Ask students why they made the choice they did for each photograph selected.
Monitor student work answering questions throughout.
Based on the key words selected and sorted images work as class to write a comprehensive definition of American democracy.