David K. Thomas Case-Based Teaching Lesson Plan

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David K. Thomas

Case-Based Teaching Lesson Plan
Final In-Class Activity/Discussion on the Civil Rights Movement Unit

Course Name: US History [Block Scheduling]

Title of Lesson/Main Topic: Differing Approaches to the Civil Rights Movement (80 minute class)

Curriculum Goals/Objectives:

Maine Learning Results Standard A2: “Making Decisions Using Social Studies Knowledge and Skills” part A for grades 9 through 12/diploma:

“Develop individual and collaborative decisions/plans by considering multiple points of view, weighing pros and cons, building on the ideas of others, and sharing information in an attempt to sway the opinions of others.”

Student Objectives:

  • Students will compare and contrast the differing views between two leaders of the Civil Rights Movement; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

  • Students will attempt to understand the reasoning behind King’s and Malcolm X’s differing perspectives.

  • Students will begin to understand how we look at many historical events differently from those who actually lived in the time period because we have the benefit of hindsight.


  • Handout of quotes from Dr. King and Malcolm X

  • Graphic organizer for in-class notes

  • In-class writing assignment hand-out

Main Activity Description:

Phase 1: Give students the case and ask them to study it.

  1. Explain purpose of lesson

  1. Say: “Today we are going to take a final look at the differing opinions of Dr. King and Malcolm X so that we can understand how people with common goals tackle social issues (in this case, race relations in the 1960s) from wildly different perspectives. We will also try to see the pros and cons of both approaches to help us decide how we would likely approach such issues had we lived in this era.”

  1. Pair and Share

  1. Students are given the quotes handout and the graphic organizer for their own personal notes.

  2. Students then get into groups of two or three and read the quotes together. They then share their thoughts with each other.

Phase 2: Help students identify the issues and facts in the case.

  1. Group Discussion/Debate (I will ask the following questions and discuss each for several minutes. I will use these questions as a guideline and will deviate from them should the students take the discussion in a new direction that I have not thought of. I will make sure that all students have a chance to speak, so that a few of the students are not dominating the conversation. My goal is for the students to be talking to each other while I merely interject with questions every now and then. I would also try to make it clear that my classroom is a safe environment in which all opinions must be politely put forward and respectfully heard by all students and myself.)

  1. “Based on these quotes and our previous lessons what was Dr. King’s approach to the Civil Rights Movement? What was Malcolm X’s approach to the Civil Rights Movement?”

Phase 3: Have students consider the values of the case and/or the actors.

B. “Which approach do YOU generally agree with more? Why?”

  1. “Was Malcolm X intolerant in his approach? Was Dr. King impractical in his approach?”

(After students give their thoughts, explain to them my personal bias, saying that as an early 21st century white male, I generally agree more with MLK’s approach. However, if I was an African American in the 1960s, the choice would not be so simple. Be sure to emphasize to the students that my particular perspective is not the “right” answer in this complex case.)

Phase 4: Have students engage in analyses and argumentation about the case and design actions that can be taken.

  1. “Imagine that you were an African-American living in Alabama during the early 1960s. Based on these quotes alone, do you think you would be more likely to believe in Malcolm X’s message or Dr. King’s message? Why?”

  1. “Remember that both of these men were eventually assassinated. Does this fact change your opinion on their views?” (Be sure to explain background information concerning the assassinations of these two men.)

Phase 5: Conclude the dialogue, discuss positive and negative consequences of particular actions, and debrief the process.

  1. “Does the benefit of hindsight make you have a different opinion of Dr. King’s and Malcolm X’s views? Why or why not?”

  1. “Where is the United States today when it comes to race-relations? Which person has a greater legacy?”

  1. (Continuation of Phase 5): After concluding the group discussion, hand out an individual in-class writing assignment with the questions below.

“Persuasive essay assignment: Today in the United States we have a Holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but not for Malcolm X. Why do you think this is? Do you personally think Malcolm X deserves recognition through a Holiday? Why? Use quotes from the handout.”

  1. Assign homework (see below).

  1. Ask students if they need anything to be clarified concerning the day’s lesson or the homework.

Assessment of Learning:

  1. Note varying individual participation levels in the class during the larger discussion

  2. Grade the in-class writing assignment

  3. Assign and then later grade homework (see below)


  • Watch this Youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HGr-UJSf9k

  • Prepare a short answer to the following question: By seeing Dr. King and Malcolm X speak, does that change your opinion of their ideas? Does the presentation of an idea matter just as much as the content of the idea?

Post-Lesson Reflections: (I normally fill this section out immediately after class, reflecting on how the lesson went and how it could be improved the next time I use it, should the lesson prove to be useful):

Other thoughts / last minute revisions (if necessary):

Quotes from Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement

Quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.

Quotes from Malcolm X

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“I don’t favor violence. If we could bring about recognition and respect of our people by peaceful means, well and good. Everybody would like to reach his objectives peacefully. But I’m also a realist. The only people in this country who are asked to be nonviolent are black people.”

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

“Who ever heard of angry revolutionists all harmonizing ‘We shall overcome….Suum [sic] Day….’while tripping and swaying along arm-in-arm with the very people they were supposed to be angrily revolting against?”

“War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow.”

“The common enemy is the white man.”

On Malcolm X…

“You know, right before he was killed he came down to Selma and said some pretty passionate things against me, and that surprised me because after all it was my territory there. But afterwards he took my wife aside, and said he thought he could help me more by attacking me than praising me. He thought it would make it easier for me in the long run.”

On Martin Luther King, Jr…..

“He got the peace prize, we got the problem….If I’m following a general, and he’s leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a peace award before the war is over.”






Martin Luther King Jr. & Malcolm X Graphic Organizer / Note Sheet


Martin Luther King Jr.

Malcolm X

Basic approach to the Civil Rights Movement

I agree with this person’s ideas because……

I disagree with this person’s ideas because.....

Overall I think this person was…..

How hindsight has possibly altered my perception of this person….

Other notes



In-class writing assignment:
Persuasive essay assignment: Today in the United States we have a Holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but not for Malcolm X. Why do you think this is? Do you personally think Malcolm X deserves recognition through a Holiday? Why? In this response, use quotes from the handout.

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