Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment


Grade Level(s):8

Key Words:Social Studies, Technology, Capital Punishment, Contemporary Issues

Developer(s) Name:Mike Berzonsky

School:Luther Jackson Middle

Approximate Time Frame:One week (can be expanded to two)

Materials/Equipment Needed: Computer per student, with Internet connection and word processing capabilities.

Description of Lesson (includes context): Using a variety of resources, students will investigate a contemporary issue (in this case capital punishment) and prepare, using a word processor.


  1. What is the objective of this lesson?

FCPS POS Standards:
8.1Students will identify and understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens of
the United States.
8.2Students will know, understand, and explain the importance of the political and
civic beliefs, values, and principles that support and maintain American
constitutional government and the workings of their own and other governments.
8.5Students will conduct inquiries and research to demonstrate knowledge and
understanding of civics, economics, and geography.
8.6Students will apply knowledge of civics, economics, and geography to make
decisions and solve problems.

FCPS POS Benchmarks:


Students will be able to explain the meaning of American citizenship and analyze

issues involving the rights of citizens of the United States


Students will demonstrate an understanding of the structure and function of the

judicial system in the United States


Students will be able to acquire information from a variety of sources


Students will be able to analyze information


Students will be able to interpret information


Students will be able to communicate in a variety of written forms


Students will be able to communicate using technologies


Students will be able to make and evaluate decisions

POS Indicators:

VA SOL(s) (including Computer/Technology):C/T8.1, C/T8.4

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Other:HSS 7.1, 7.5


  1. What will we examine as evidence of students' knowledge and/or skill?

Product(s): A typed six paragraph paper. Paragraph one is an introduction that includes
their thesis statement. Paragraphs two through four contain the arguments which support
their thesis. In paragraph five students will bring up two arguments from the opposing
side and refute those points. The final paragraph is a conclusion.




  1. What exactly will the students and teacher do during the lesson?

Directions to students for proceeding with the lesson:

  1. (Optional) Before the lesson you may want to have them think about capital
    punishment. Give them a hypothetical or real example of an individual who has
    committed a crime. Ask students to write whether they would vote to execute the
    individual or use a different punishment.
  2. The first day the unit begins in the lab should be spent primarily researching. Look on
    bookmarked web sites, and copy and paste graphics and text from the web site to a
    word processing document for notes purposes. Be sure to properly attribute where you
    got the information from.
  3. After students have found supporting facts, and organized their notes logically, they
    should begin developing their argument. Care must be given that information is cited
    properly and not accidentally or intentionally plagiarized. Students should prepare a
    rough draft of their paper. The rough draft should undergo a peer editing process.
  4. After the paper has been edited, students should use the final lab time to prepare a final
    version of their paper.

Directions to teacher/administrator using the lesson?

PreComputer Time: You may need to teach the students how to correctly cite information. To maximize the students searching techniques, you may want to find several appropriate sites, and bookmark them for all computers. Restricting the students to appropriate sites also cuts down on potential distractions. You should also distribute a rubric for how you will be evaluating their work to cut down on confusion.

While Researching: Circulate constantly to make sure students are at appropriate sites. If appropriate, take consideration into students' seating.
While Students are composing their paper: Encourage students to support their arguments with facts. Play Devil's Advocate for students on either side of the argument to help students strengthen their arguments. You may want to pair students up to help them get ideas for arguments to refute in paragraph number five. As some students might finish the

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assignment at different times you may want to have a backup assignment planned.

Afterwards: A full class debate allows the students to orally express themselves.


  1. What options in presentation(s) and/or response(s) are suggested in order to provide the opportunity for all students to demonstrate achievement of the benchmark(s) and indicator(s)?

As students will be looking at a variety of sources for information, care must be given that
students are at sites appropriate for their reading comprehension ability. Also, weaker
students might be given more time to produce their essay, with peer and adult supervision
of the editing process.

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