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The Impact of Desegregation

Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade 5th Grade Class N/A Length of Lesson 45 Minutes
Lesson Title The Impact of Desegregation
Unit Title School Desegregation
Unit Compelling Question Why is it impossible for there to be equality when there is segregation based on the color of someone’s skin?
Historical Context:

Iowa has always been in the middle of the struggle for desegregation of schools. Iowans have played an important part in creating equal rights for everyone. The desegregation of schools was a huge part in changing the inequality in America. Even though we have desegregated schools, there are still a lot of problems with equality in America. As of today, there are still a lot of racist, unjust things that happen everyday. People are racially profiled in many aspects of life, which in some ways, creates a segregated way of life today. It is important for young students to see that we still have problems with equality in today’s world. Even though we have ended legal segregation, we still have a lot of changes that need to be made. 

Lesson Supporting Question How did the desegregation of schools make an impact on what schools are like today?
Lesson Overview

This lesson will be one of the last parts of our unit about school desegregation. We will have had experience with learning about what segregation is, how segregation impacted the world back then, what were some of the key parts of the desegregation of schools (Brown vs Board of Education, Little Rock 9, etc), and a little about how segregation and the desegregation of schools has impacted the world today.


We will be working a lot in this lesson with how much our country has changed and how much further we still have to go. The students will first be watching a video of students their age describing segregation, and how we still have a form of segregation in today’s world. The students will get an opportunity to see what other children their age think about the topic. As a class, we will be reading an article from The Des Moines Register about  the inequality in Des Moines. This article will help put things in perspective on how we still have problems of segregation even right here in Iowa. This will spark the question, how much progress has society made in desegregating and racial equality?

Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed


This is a website with a short definition of equality that we will use to help students compare their ideas of equality to what the meaning is. 



This video is of 5th grade students in New York speaking on segregation in today’s schools. Students will analyze the video and think about where we are today, and how we can improve. 



The Teaching Iowa History primary source database contains the article from The Des Moines Register

Catalog Number: 2019.005.001

Lesson Target
  • The students will question the cause and effect of historical developments in desegregation of schools.
  • The students will analyze multiple sources to pull evidence from in order to have an answer to a compelling question.
  • The student will analyze Iowa’s role in the desegregation process.
Lesson Themes Civil Rights, African American Experience
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information
Bell Ringer 

When we first start the lesson, the students will get their social studies journals out. They will use these journals almost every lesson to help get their thoughts on paper.
Their first task will be to write about what the word “equality” means. 

Students will take this time to formulate opinions, and use what they have learned in previous lessons to describe what the word “equality” means. 
3 Min  Students who need additional help may have a definition to fill in, or they will have additional terms to help them find some ideas. 

After students get an opportunity to write about what equality means, we will come back as a class. The teacher will get the definition from this website put on the board for them to read and compare what they wrote in their journals. 

3 Min  The definition will be something that we will come back too throughout the lesson to use as a reference or to answer questions about whether some things are equal or not. 

The students will then watch this video after their opening journal prompt. The journal prompt asked them about the word equality.

After watching the video, the students will break up into small groups. 
4 Min  The students are getting to watch a video, which works with visual and auditory learners because they can see and hear experiences from students their age. 

The students will be in their groups and will talk about the video. 
While in these groups, students are responsible for answering these key questions about the video. 
“Are these students describing equality?” 
“What are these students describing?” 
“How are the students being affected by the schools not being equal?” 
“Why is it important for everyone to be equal?”

The students will write their groups answers to these questions on a white board or a large poster. 
10 min 

The grouping will be where the students are sitting. Their desks will be set up in groups so that they can discuss with each other the key concepts. 

Teacher  We will come back together as a class for a couple minutes so that I can explain the gallery walk we will be doing.  2 Min   

We will then do a sort of gallery walk activity where two students from the group will stay, while two other students will walk around the room to other groups’ white boards or large posters. 
The students who are staying first will be responsible for explaining their answers to the other students coming by their white board or poster. 
The students who are traveling around the classroom will be responsible for asking questions and engaging in their answers. 

This will spark discussion between different groups in the class. 
6-8 Min Students will be working in pairs with someone in their group, the groups in the class will be set up where there is a mixture of higher level students and lower level students so that there is a good mixture of ideas.

After the class gets the opportunity to walk around and discuss the video and each group answers to the questions we will come back together as a class.
We will then talk about it as a class.
We will use our definition of equality, the students' ideas from the journals, and the ideas to form the answers from the video to talk about if we truly are equal in today’s world. 

The big questions during our discussion will be, how much have we really changed? 
6-8 Min  

Next we will be reading as a class the article from The Des Moines Register from 2017. 
This article may be too long so depending on the time we have and how the class is doing, we may need to pick out important parts from the article. 
One important part would be the statistics given towards the beginning of the article.
We may also need to pick out the interview parts of the article that give real-life, real people examples of how even in Des Moines, Iowa, a place that we live in, we are still not truly equal. 
We will stop and discuss this article throughout the time reading it. We will compare what the people in this article said to what the children in the video said.
We will also compare the answers we had to the video to this article. 

We will discuss how America not being truly equal has impacted people everywhere, even here in Iowa. 
10 min 

During the reading of this article, we will be reading it as a class. Somehow we will have a rotation where students will all get the chance to read a short part.
For the students who may be below grade level in reading, they will get less to read or they will get an easier part of the article.

As a class, we will formulate ideas to the questions asked in the lesson earlier, I will be asking students to formulate ideas in their groups. 
Closure After reading, and discussing key points from the article, students will write down on an exit slip, what implications this has for them. They will write the answer to this question, “Using the things we discussed in class, why is it important that there is equality in America?” 3 Min The exercise with the Des Moines Register article will be something that propels us into our last lesson of the unit
Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • I will use formative assessment during the lesson while students are doing the gallery walk. While the students walking around, I will be listening to how they explain their answers to each other. I can gauge how well the students are understanding what we have been talking about. I will also be able to read students journals that they are writing every lesson to help guide what I need to go over again, and what I can move on with.
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
  • Students will have the opportunity to create their own plan to propose to the governor of Iowa that creates a more equal Iowa. Using the article and the video we watched in the lesson, students' next step for assessment of this part of the unit will be to create a piece of legislation or a plan to put in place that helps build equality around Iowa’s community. How can we get everyone in the community involved and caring about his issue to create an equal Iowa? The students will have the opportunity to write out in letter format, they can create a video or commercial explaining their ideas, they can create a phone or face-to-face interview that allows them to ask the governor of Iowa questions, or they can create a visually appealing website by drawing or painting. This gives students the opportunity to show what they have learned in multiple ways.
Author Information
Author Reade Reiter Reviewer Dr. Chad Timm, Simpson College Created 05/11/2020 Last Edited 07/15/2020
Lesson Plan Development Notes: Social Studies Methods, Simpson College

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