Student Lessons 2008/09

Social Studies Lesson Plans

Listed below are links to lesson plans following the "Inquiry" model and the "Socratic Seminar" model. An Inquiry lesson asks students to generate hypotheses about the answer to a contested question, and then presents them with data to support or undermine those hypotheses. A Socratic Seminar provides students an opportunity to have an in depth discussion of an important text. These lesson plans were created by students in Dr. James Hartwick's Methods of Teaching Social Studies course at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Please feel free to browse the abstracts below. Click the title of each lesson to download the complete lesson plan.

Inquiry Lesson Plans

Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima

What led to the outbreak of WWII?

(Click here for corresponding Datasets)

The War to End all Wars was in fact only a precursor to a second, greater war, even more devastating and deadly than the First World War. What happened to spark off this even greater conflict, why did WWII happen, and how was it allowed to happen are just a few questions that will be examined in this lesson. This inquiry has students generate hypotheses as to why WWII broke out, revise those hypotheses through examination of a series of data sets, and then formulate and support a conclusion to the question: Just two decades after the Great War, what led to the outbreak of World War II?-Created by Jon Schellin
Poverished people

Why are some people rich and some people poor?

(Click here for corresponding Datasets)

This inquiry lesson asks students to brainstorm about possible causes of poverty, and then gather evidence in support of each hypothesis by examining datasets provided. They will seek to answer the following question: What explains inequality in our world; why are some people rich and some people poor? The goal of the lesson is not to come up with one right answer, but to discover more about the myriad causes of poverty around the world, which will help students be compassionate world citizens. It will help students recognize some of the factors that have contributed to their own privilege or underprivilege. It will also encourage students to accept the complexity of the problems that we face. This lesson is designed for an advanced economics class, although it could easily be adapted for use in a lower level economics class or a course on political science, geography, diversity, or current events. It could be tailored to motivate further study about trade, credit, environmental problems, governance, conflict, or any number of other related topics.-Created by Kate Arnold

Diet Inquiry Lesson

(Click here for corresponding Datasets)

The United States is one of the most advanced and sophisticated civilizations ever known. The average American lives comfortably, with a high standard of living. Our universities that facilitate scientific research are some of the best in the world and our medical knowledge reigns supreme. Yet, somehow, the United States has the highest rate of obesity on the planet! Given that we have advanced technology, abundant resources and superior medical knowledge, how are we less healthy than in the past? More disturbing is that Americans by in large do not seem to be overly concerned about this perplexing inconsistency, even though for the first time, physicians predict that parents will live longer than their children! Students are being asked to study this issue by comparing today's diet and lifestyle to those in the past. Through the inquiry process, students will share their own interpretations of the evidence and formulate their own tentative answers to the following question:In terms of both diet and lifestyle, why are Americans less healthy today than in the past?--Created by  Robert (Chris) Knudsen
John F. Kennedy

Cuban Missile Crisis

This is an inquiry lesson that focuses on communications between Khrushchev and Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Along with these and other data sets students are asked to create hypotheses on why the Cuban Missile Crisis was able to end peacefully.  Students will brainstorm hypotheses, and then will consider evidence that they encounter in each data set to find supporting evidence for one of their hypotheses.  At the end of the lesson, students will write a position paper giving their reasons for why the Missile Crisis was able to end peacefully.  The assessment will allow for the teacher to determine how well students are able to create an argument supported by the data sets. -Created by David Davis
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Third Inaugural Address

This Socratic seminar is designed to engage students in a structured discussion about the values addressed in FDR's Third Inaugural Address, in which he discusses the importance of and need to maintain democracy in the United States FDR's central question of the vitality of democracy hints at the coming call to arms that the United States would answer in order to protect the democracies of Europe.  This lesson allows students to discuss the concepts of democracy and proper citizenship from their own viewpoints, that of FDR, and theUnited States of the 1940's It will enable students to use higher order thinking while practicing cooperative discussion centered around a central question.--Created by  Katherine Francouer and Rachel Laresn
Declaration of Human Rights

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In this Socratic Seminar, students will examine The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in an analytical manner. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration. The document was designed to outline and describe the basic human rights to which all human beings are entitled. The idea of human rights and what they constitute is an important subject to study, both historically and contemporarily. Students will identify, extract, and discuss the central themes of this document. The focus of the lesson is the discussion in which students will have the opportunity to expound on the ideas of the document while also engaging in a meaningful discussion about the impact this document has had on modern history.--Created by Justin Nickel
Flag poles

Grading the Electoral College

This Socratic Seminar focuses on elections and the intricacies of the Electoral College. It is important for students to understand how elections work and the role the Electoral College plays in the election of the president. The Electoral College is not without controversy, several elections have ended with the individual who won the popular vote not becoming president. The goal of this lesson is to help students gain a deeper understanding of the values, issues, and ideas in the text, and to actively listen, evaluate, and build on each other's comments. Students should also know how the Electoral College works and understand some of the reforms that have been proposed due to the controversies that have bitterly divided the nation.--Created by Brad Blanke