High School Lesson Plans

According to developmental science, high school students' ideas on justice and equity continue to deepen in complexity. They continue to understand that fair does not always mean equal and, importantly, begin to realize that their personal preferences are not more important than others' rights to fairness and justice. High school students can also understand the dynamic interplay between individuals and society. They can recognize that individuals are not simply in service to social norms and laws. They can understand the importance of social norms and laws to maintain order while realizing those laws are fluid. They can see that laws and social norms are intended to serve the needs of individuals and the majority and must uphold a person’s right to justice and fairness. This understanding is reflected in the numerous social movements young people have led throughout history.

With this in mind, high school resources connect historical processes with current events to engage students in dialogue about the rights of others, the utility of the law and solutions to complex problems. The historical content relies on primary and secondary sources, including photographs, executive orders and legal decisions. Consistent with the critical history perspective, counter-narratives are provided to deepen students' understanding of historical events (such as the 14th Amendment, immigration laws and Supreme Court decisions) and their connection to the present. Discussion questions require students to engage in dialogue with peers in which they consider legal precedent and multiple positions of a single issue and then determine the most just solution to complex issues. The culminating activity requires students to engage in civic action to have their collaborative perspective be heard.

high school

Materials Include: 

  • Sequential lesson plans with sample language and timing
  • Keywords
  • Scaffolded and annotated primary and secondary sources
  • Discussion questions
  • Writing prompts
  • Culminating civic engagement activity
  • Relevant learning standards and a culminating activity

Materials can be used to supplement other classroom lessons or resources or used independently.

Note: These lessons are intentionally not scripted. Use your professional judgement when making decisions for your class and students.


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