Grades 6-8 lesson plan


Grades 6-8 lesson plan

  • Lesson theme: Citizenship: Acts of Good Citizenship
  • Integrated subject: Social Studies
  • Grade level: Sixth to Eight grades
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Lesson Authors: Ally Lovejoy, Sarah Jako, and Andi Hoffman of Miami University of Ohio

Lesson Overview

Students will go through a simulation of the citizenship process. They will be put into groups of 2-3 for the artistic portion. Through the process and after they will create a green screen image showing actions portraying acts of a good citizen. Their partner will take a picture of them in front of the green screen and then they will switch. Throughout the lesson, the essential questions we will focus on are:

  • What is citizenship? 
  • What are the rights of citizens? 
  • How can citizens take part in civic life? 

Visual Culture Component

three racially diverse children working at a community garden

This is an image of children demonstrating good citizenship by creating a community garden. Service projects such as this one show accountability and commitment to bettering the community and even society people live in.

Ohio Standards of Learning / Common Core: 

Ohio Visual Arts Standards for 7th grade:

  • 6PE, Connect various art forms to their social, cultural or political purposes and include regional examples.
  • 5PR, Create a work of art in collaboration with others to address a social or cultural issue
  • 2RE, Compare and contrast diverse viewpoints about works of art.

National Standards for Civics and Government, grades 5-8:

5 What are the Roles of the Citizen in American Democracy?

  1. Students should be able to explain the meaning of American citizenship.
  2. Students should be able to explain how one becomes a citizen of the United States.

Lesson Objectives:

Students will:

  • Complete two short quizzes to demonstrate their knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of citizens (Civics and Government Standard 5).
  • Create images that are examples of good citizenship (6PE).
  • Collaborate well in a group to produce one image for each member (5PR).
  • Engage in an effective critique and discussion of each others’ portrayals of citizenship (2RE).

Vocabulary / Academic Language: 

Documentary photography– a popular form of photography used to chronicle events or environments both significant and relevant to history and historical events and everyday life

Citizen– a native or naturalized member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to its government and is entitled to its protection

Citizenship– the character a recognized member of society is expected to display

Rights– rights to personal liberty established by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and certain Congressional acts,especially as applied to an individual or a minority group.

Good moral character– the existence of virtues such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty and loyalty. 

Setting– the place or surroundings around an object or event

Foreground the front part of the composition of the image;  for our purposes, the foreground is the action that students will act out

Background– The back part of the composition of the image; in our case, the background is the projected image on the green screen

Historical/Cultural/Artist Information:

Freedom Summer Image

A damaged Statue of Liberty with words "Mississippi: Subversion of the Right to Vote"

Brochure, subversion of the right to vote

From Freedom Summer Digital Archive

This image is a picture from a brochure on the Freedom Summer archives. It shows a depiction of the subversion of the right to vote. This is a main component of citizenship and is a basic right of US citizens that was being taken away. 

3 open-ended discussion questions to ask students:

  • What does the Statue of Liberty symbolize to Americans? 
  • What might the broken arm symbolize?
  • Why do you think the artist chose the Statue of Liberty as their symbol and not another US icon?

Contemporary Art connection

Young women standing in a group vigil.

Looking forward Looking back

Carrie Mae Weems 2008

This image is one of Carrie Mae Weems re enacting documentary photography images. This is a great example that has to do with the reenactment of our project as well as integration.

3 open-ended discussion questions to ask students:

  • What do you see in this image? 
  • Why do you think the artist chose to make the image black and white instead of color?
  • What is the significance of title?

Lesson Procedures: 

  1. Introduce Idea of citizenship and key vocab words by projecting the words onto the board, have the students first give their ideas as to what the words mean and then tell them but start with “the dictionary definition is..”. This lets the kids know they weren’t necessarily wrong but this is what the dictionary says.
    1. Make sure to differentiate between being a citizen and the concept of citizenship as a duty to one’s country
    2. Video of people explaining what being a citizen means to them
  2. Ask the students what they think it takes to become a citizen. After they give their responses tell them about the steps you must take to become a citizen.
    1. residence in the United States for five years
    2. ability to read, write, and speak English
    3. proof of good moral character
    4. knowledge of the history of the United States
    5. knowledge of and support for the values and principles of American constitutional democracy
  3. Talk about rights of citizens emphasizing the right to vote among others that were taken from the people in Mississippi during freedom summer. Explain freedom summer and the purpose of the training that took place on Western campus. Point out that the volunteers who helped in the training were demonstrating good citizenship by doing something to help the people around them, even if it meant risking their lives. Useful handout for the differences between rights and responsibilities of citizens
  4. Tell the students they will be doing a simulation of a few of the steps included in the citizenship process.
  5. Hand out American Knowledge Quiz and have students take for 6 minutes.
  6. Next hand out Good moral character quiz and have students take for 5 minutes.
  7. While the students are taking the quizzes get the cultural image ready to be projected so the class can see.
  8. After they are finished with the quizzes show them the image. Tell them that they will be creating a documentary photograph with a partner. They will be showing the different things that people can do to be good citizens. 
  9. Demonstrate to the class how to use the Green Screen app.
    1. Open App
    2. New Project
    3. Touch the + symbols, the first will be a camera and the second will be whatever background image is chosen
    4. Calibrate the image using the color wheel until the photo closely resembles what is shown on the screen.
    5. Take a picture of your partner/s in front of the green screen being good citizens.
  10. Have the students upload their image using the ipad to transfer to computers and upload to the shared Google Drive folder.



  • Completed two short quizzes to demonstrate their knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of citizens (Civics and Government Standard 5). 
  • Created good examples of positive citizenship (6PE).
  • Collaborated well in a group to produce one image for each member (5PR).
  • Engaged in an effective critique and discussion of each others portrayals of citizenship (2RE).

Materials and Preparation: 

  • iPad for each group
  • Green Screen App downloaded onto each iPad
  • Rolls of green banner paper for background (green screen)
  • Images for iPad of local area, uploaded onto each iPad into camera roll


Extra Materials: (handout/ppt, pattern, etc.)

Extra materials provided below;

American History Citizenship Quiz

There are four amendments telling who can vote, describe one of them:

  1. Anyone can vote
  2. You do not have to be a citizen to vote
  3. Citizens 18 and older can vote

Name one war fought in the 1900’s:

  1. Civil War
  2. World war 2
  3. Mexican-American War

Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?

  1. Establish local fire departments
  2. Print Money
  3. Establish local school policies

Name one right only for U.S. citizens

  1. Run for federal office
  2. Own a home
  3. Attend a school

What is the political party of the president now?

  1. Republican
  2. Democrat
  3. Independant

We elect a U.S. Representative for how many years?

  1. 6
  2. 8
  3. 2

Good Moral Character Quiz

I stand up for what is right even if I stand alone.
I don’t cave in to negative peer pressure. 
Fear of failure does not prevent me from trying things. 
I am not afraid to express myself just because some people might disapprove. 
I work to solve problems without violence. 
I never intentionally ridicule, embarrass, or hurt others.

Teacher Exemplar:

Two students recyling plastic materials.

Class Examples

Freedom Summer Notes and Information

Western College was a private school in 1964 and wasn’t affiliated at all with Miami University. The training was supposed to take place at Berea College in Kentucky. Groups gathered college students and tried to create training session, but Berea College wouldn’t allow it on their campus; ended up moving it to Western College. Western College was an integrated school since 1800’s, and was asked to host the training sessions because of the school’s stance on brutality and prejudice and the international reputation of the president of the college. Over 1000 volunteers attended from across the country.

Mississippi was most racist state in nation in 1964; 70% African Americans, but only 6% were educated.

  • Voter registration,
    • Tests to prevent African Americans from voting
  • training teachers and students how to operate a freedom school 
  • and teach them about equality 
  • health/ how to take care of selves

The majority of the student volunteers were Caucasian. They had been able to read about the issues in Mississippi, but never encountered the conditions before going there. 

Archive of letters, pictures, hate mail, diaries; many people donated their collections as well