Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Defining Citizenship in Recent Events

Chris Black


Have your students questioned how non-citizens could commit recent acts? Do they know what a legal alien is? This lesson will help define a citizen of the United States and a non-citizen alien of the United States.


The student understands the distinction between citizens and noncitizens (aliens) and the process by which aliens may become citizens.


- Government textbook (optional)
- Teacher resources on citizenship
- Internet access for teacher research
- Copy of U.S. Constitution
- Props for skits (optional)
- Paper, pencils for students
- Scenario quizzes (created by teacher)


1. The teacher will need to prepare prior to class the lecture portion of the class, defining a citizen and non-citizen. Look at websites below for links to online information about citizenship and immigration. The lecture may include the following:
- Definition- A citizen of the United States is a native-born, foreign-born, or naturalized person who owes allegiance to the United States and who is entitled to its protection.
- Right of birthplace
- Right of blood
- Naturalization
- Rights of citizenship
- Right to vote
- Having a U.S. passport
- The U.S. government's protection when abroad
- Right to petition for green cards for your children and close relatives
- You cannot be deported or lose your citizenship
- Non-citizen Visa
- Non-immigrant visa (temporary)
- Business or Pleasure Visitors
- Temporary Workers
- Students Attending U.S. Schools
- Foreign National Entering the U.S. as the Fiancť (e) of a U.S. Citizen
- Exchange Visitors
- NAFTA Professionals
- Immigrant visa (Permanent)
- Immigration through a family member
- Immigration through employment
- Immigration through investment
- Immigration through the Diversity Lottery
- Immigration through International adoption

2. Create a quiz with 10 scenarios describing a person that will allow the student to determine whether the person is a citizen or non-citizen. The scenarios should be people that your students may come across in their everyday life. Look at your community for possible scenarios.
A 4 question example quiz is located in the attached file named -dw1042281411.Citizen_Quiz.doc.

3. The teacher will need to have the props for the student sketches if they will be used.


1. If you are using a textbook that deals with citizenship, have students read the chapter about citizenship prior to class for homework.

2. The class will start with a discussion about recent events (Ex. 9/11) and the actions of some non-citizens. How can non-citizens live in the United States and do these things within the United States? Discuss the fact that this was a small group of immigrants and that most of our families, if not us, were immigrants. Most are law abiding productive people within our society. Ask class: Do you know what makes a person a citizen? Today we will find out.

3. Using your text book and other teacher resources including what is available in your media center, (ex. THE CONSTITUION OF THE UNITED STATES, Bratman, Fred BECOMING A CITIZEN: ADOPTING A NEW HOME. Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1993, websites listed below), create a 20-25 minute lecture/note-taking exercise defining a U.S. citizen and a non-citizen living in the U.S. and discuss the rights of citizens compared to the rights of non-citizen aliens. (Ex. Voting, employment, hold public office)

4. Group students in 2-3 using any method you choose. The students will create a 2-3 minute sketch to be presented to the class. One of the students in the group must be a non-citizen. The sketch must give pertinent information within the dialogue that will show who is not the citizen. The class will have a discussion about the sketch to determine who was not the citizen and why.

5. Have students complete the 10-question scenario quiz on their own. The students will place a -C- for citizen or -NC- for non-citizen next to the scenario. The student will also have to give a reason for the answer. The quizzes will be discussed after assessing for feedback.



The student will be able to distinguish the difference between a citizen and non-citizen when given information about a person. Given a quiz of 10 different scenarios describing a personís background, employment, and/or constitutional rights, a student will be able to accurately determine between a citizen and non-citizen. (The teacher should produce the quiz based on the information given within the lecture. However, an example quiz with 4 scenarios is located in the attached file.)


By placing a -C- or -NC- next to the scenario, the student must get at least 8 out of 10 on the quiz correct for mastery. The student will also have to explain the answer giving at least one piece of evidence from the scenario that showed the personís status.


The next step after this lesson can be a lesson based on the non-citizen becoming a naturalized citizen. This will continue the progression of the chosen standard.

Web Links

Web supplement for Defining Citizenship in Recent Events
Constitution online through the National Archives

Web supplement for Defining Citizenship in Recent Events
Online Immigration service

Web supplement for Defining Citizenship in Recent Events
Discussion board for immigration and naturalization information

Attached Files

4 example scenario quiz.†††††File Extension: pdf

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