Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Why or Why Not Law?

Joyel Glaze


Students obtain a firm grasp on the importance of law through web-based resources, magazines, newspapers and collaboration within student cooperative groups, class discussion and teacher discussion/explanations.


The student understands the importance of the rule of law in establishing limits on both those who govern and the governed, protecting individual rights, and promoting the common good (for example, government in the sunshine law, limits on campaign contributions).


-Blue or black ink pens
-White lined notebook paper
-White blank duplicating paper
-Local and national and international newspapers
-Age and content appropriate magazines, such as: TIME and NEWSWEEK

-Internet-accessible computers with printers

-Color markers


1. Secure technology lab for a 5 day period.

2. Gather and bring to class various magazines and various newspapers.

3. Gather all materials needed for lesson and lesson activities.
-Copy paper
-Color markers

4. Make copies of pre/post-test for each student (available from the attached file.)

5. Make copy of check list for evaluation (only need one class set; make as many copies needed for number of students in your largest class.)


- Prior Knowledge-
Students should have prior knowledge of law, and a basic understanding of computer usage and Internet browsing experience. The student should be familiar with the following:
a. what law is
b. how laws come about
c. what the U.S. Constitution is, and how it is applied
d. what the Bill of Rights is, and a base understanding of what rights they protect
e. the three branches of Government (executive, judicial and legislatives), and the responsibilities of each
f. the duties and powers of each court (U.S Supreme Court, Federal Courts and State Courts)

Note: Throughout this lesson students are expected to select articles surrounding any involvement with law via Internet resources, newspapers or maggazines, that will lend to their comprehension as to why or why not law is important in a society. Through coorperative group discussions/responsibilities, class discussion and teacher feedback, students will be expected to demonstrate that they understand why or why not law (why law is important), through group findings and presentations. In addition, a website is suggested in this lesson that will facilitate students in recalling prior knowledge required for lesson, and to assist students in meeting this lessons objectives.

Day One, 45 Minutes
1. Evaluate prior knowledge by administering the pretest; provide each student with a copy of the pretest, and read over pretest questions with student for clarity.

2. Student recall of prior knowledge will assist them in completing the test and lesson to follow.

3. Collect pretest after allotted time.

4. Conduct an overview of their required prior knowledge, by way of open class discussion, and provide resourceful websites that will facilitate students in refreshing themselves with prior required information. Websites will be provided in the weblinks section of this plan.

Day Two, 45 Minutes

5. Explain to students the purpose of this lesson; what insight are they to gain from this lesson. For instance:
a. how laws protect individuals, cooperation, small businesses, institutions, various practices and concerns that surround cultural groups, etc.
b. how laws affect society (what would society be like with or with the protections and implementations of laws)
c. why institutions, organizations and government are significant in law making and decision making based on laws in a democratic society.

6. Explain to students that they are individually responsible for choosing an article from either the resources provided via Internet, or by teacher/student provided newspapers or magazines.

7. Convey that the article should contain information displaying practices of law, regulations of law or how law effects an individual, city, country at large, government, businesses, cooperation, agencies, institutions, etc.

8. Demonstrate the type of article that would be suitable for lesson such as:
a. a new ordinance that was passed, stating that a car stereo should not be heard passed 100 feet of its source.
b. how NAPSTER is being sued by individuals in the music industry, because musicians are not receiving profit form the music NAPSTER provides for free.
c. teachers are preparing to strike unless CTA and the U.S. Government can come to a fair decision on increasing pay and provide better medical benefits through arbitration.

9. Allow class time (reminder of class in day two) for choosing an article.

10. Outside of classroom, students should analyze the articles they chose to determine what role does law (the institutions and or supporting documentations of law, i.e. US Supreme Court, Bill of Rights, US Constitution, government, legislator) play in the article.

Day 3, 45 Minutes

11. Place students into cooperative groups of sizes no larger than five students per group, depending on class size, and assign individual student responsibility in each group, such as:

a. reader- student reads article to assigned group members
b. discussion mediator- presides over group; helps maintain order and keep focus, etc.
c. recorder- records information gathered during group discussion
d. presenter- presents gathered information, ideas, topics, and conveys overall group findings.
e. researcher- this student will use the Internet (website) provided for assistance in seeking needed information to complete group's task.

Note: If the class is small it is not necessary to have a student for each responsibility; students can be assigned to carry out two duties. For example, one student can be responsible as the reader and recorder for the group.

12. Explain the task of the cooperative groups as a whole. Convey what each group is to do, for example:
a. Allow each group member to present his/her chosen article to the group.
b. Group members are to vote as to which article the group will accept as the article that will be presented for lesson.
c. Each member will begin with their individual responsibility until the lesson objective is met.
d. Presenter will present group findings and ideas.

Note: While students are active in their cooperative groups, teacher should make continual rounds to each group. This will ensure students are staying focus and on task, allow teacher to redirect students that are off task and praise those that are working toward task diligently. Also, teachers will be assessable for constructive feedback.

13. Randomly call up each group presenter for group presentations.

Day 4, 45 Minutes

14. Continue with group presentations.

15. Formatively assess each group presentation, giving corective and affirmative feedback by reiterating how laws govern, protect, and support the common good of all U.S. citizens. Relate how each article applies to what protection and rights according to law.

Day 5, 45 minutes

16. Write the website on the board which students will be using to review prior and recently learned information. Refer to the weblink section for URLs.

17. Instruct students to return to computers for guided instructions for viewing website.

18. Create a summarized review of what law is, branches of government, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, by guiding student's exploration of the website.

19. Administer the post-test by providing each student with a copy of the test.

20. Collect post-test for evaluation.


As a formative assessment, students can be observed for understanding of subject through class discussion, and during interaction within cooperative groups. Use self-evaluated check list also as a formative assessment.

-Administer pre-test to each students on day one before lesson begins.
-Administer post-test to each student on day five after review is conduct/at very end of lesson.
-The pre/post test is composed of 6 multiple choice questions, 2 short response questions and 2 extended response questions.


Distribute studentís post-test back for self evaluation (student grade on post-test), this will allow student to ask questions and receive feedback on missed answers. Provide students with their individual check list and a color marker; only color markers are to be used by students for grading. Read the correct answers to the post- test aloud to class for self evaluation. For further comprehension of intended lesson, distinguish other situations and possibilities that might apply to each assessment questions . Once all questions are addressed and all aspects of prior knowledge have been reemphasized, collect post-test, check list and color markers. Assess studentsí self evaluated post-test and check list to determine difficult areas students exhibited then give further clarification during next class.

Web Links

Web supplement for Why or Why Not Law?
Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids

Attached Files

Pre/post test, answer key, and check list.     File Extension: pdf

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