Grade Levels: 6-8

In this lesson plan, students learn about the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case and conduct a comparison to the judgements in Plessy v. Ferguson.


Students will:

  1. Explore the landmark case of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka.
  2. Summarize the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson.


  • Projector and computer with internet access for BrainPOP
  • Class set of photocopies of the Worksheet


segregate, racism, public, ratify, Supreme Court, seperate but equal, integration, sue, landmark, civil rights

Lesson Procedure:

  1. To assess students' prior knowledge, project the worksheet for the class to see and talk about the 5 fill-in-the-blank questions.
  2. Introduce key vocabulary.
  3. Play the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka movie . Revisit the activity page and/or vocabulary page afterward as needed.
  4. Divide the class into small groups of 4-6 students. Instruct half of the group members to take the position of Brown in the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka case, and half of the group members to take the position of Plessy in the Plessy vs. Ferguson page. Students may use the Related Reading features to help them prepare their statements.
  5. After students have worked together to prepare their statements, have them share them with the members of their group who worked on the other case.
  6. Encourage students to talk about the relationship between the two cases. How did Plessy vs. Ferguson pave the way for the Brown vs. Board case? How are the cases similar? How are they different?

Extension Activities:

Have students explore the Argument Wars game to experience the process of how a bill becomes a law. Afterward, invite students to explain how the concepts in the game relate to the Brown vs. Board of Education case.