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Current Events Inspired Lesson: A new Supreme Court Justice? Includes a bonus lesson!

What is happening in the news can be an excellent inspiration for home educators. Using the news guarantees that the material covered is relevant and exciting. I love pulling ideas and building off of the things going on around me.

The most recent course-building inspiration came from the confirmation hearing for potential Supreme Court Justice Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. In short, she could become the first African American female to serve in the highest court in the US. It made me consider a few questions that might inspire you.

  • Do my students understand the power of the Supreme Court? Beyond the "textbook" answer about the branches of government, do they truly understand what it is?

  • Can they give examples of how the Supreme Court's rules have had significant effects on the lives of average Americans?

  • Can my student articulate why influential people and organizations are very interested in who sits on the Supreme Court?

  • Do they understand how having a variety of backgrounds serve on the Supreme Court might affect case outcomes?

  • Can my students explain how someone becomes a Supreme Court Justice?

Of course, as all good inspirations, these led to other ideas. Doing research, I connected Judge Brown and the famous court case "Brown vs. Board of Education." (No, it wasn't her family). The truth is that there was a long road, and civil rights activists lost several cases before the Supreme Court heard the Brown case. Those losses made integrated education possible. First, however, a student would have to understand the power of losing.

All the lost cases paved the way to the "Brown vs. Board of Education" case. The cases that the NAACP and others lost made the win possible. This fact made me wonder a few more questions that might inspire you.

  • Does my student know any of the cases before Brown vs. Board of Education?

  • Does my student understand how the Supreme Court reaches decisions?

  • Can they define "dissenting opinion"?

  • Can my students use skills to understand that complex legalese and make it understandable and valuable information for them?

  • Does my student understand the unlying lessons on resilience shown by patterns of loss by organizations like the NAACP that ultimately led to their "big win"?

  • Is it apparent to my student how to present a well-formed logical argument?

  • Can my student take a personal lesson away from the concept of dissenting opinions that can help them in their everyday life?

I used all this inspiration to make two open-and-teach mini-lessons that I am happy to share! I also made it a "you-pick-the-price" product, so it is accessible to all.

The link below has two packets. The first is on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. It goes beyond basic biographical facts but touches on concepts of Progressive Judges, the importance of inspiration and mentorship, and a critical look at her nomination acceptance speech. The second pack is an in-depth, primary source study of Briggs vs. Elliott, a critical lost case that was a building stone for the Brown vs. the Board of Education case. The lesson shows actual pieces of the dissenting opinion written by Judge Waring. It has leading annotation notes to help guide students (and educators) through this historical document. It's a great example of a deductive logic argument, and there is a graphic organizer included to help students understand it. Finally, it consists of an answer key and a few lesson extension ideas.

I hope that these two pieces will be of assistance to you! It's important to teach your student about a branch of government that is extremely powerful. Help them make connections, learn social-emotional lessons, and stretch their brains!


Would you like to teach your student about the Supreme Court, the process of confirmation, and the power of dissenting opinions? You can snag two mini-lessons below on your budget*. This lesson is ideal for high school-level students.

*You-pick-the-price products allow educators to determine how much they will pay for the item. Simply add the item to the cart, and you will see a default price that you can pay or may change the price to the amount that suits you. There is a default price entered in the cart. Thank you for all the financial support that goes to making it possible to pay for the tools used to make the curriculum possible.


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