5th Grade Lesson Plan – Bill of Rights, Freedom of Speech and Two Regimes: Witness to War
Two Regimes: Witness to War
The purpose of this lesson is for students to describe how concerns about individual rights led to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution, especially the First Amendment, and examine violations of individual rights in other countries through a primary source memoir of Teodora Verbitskaya.
Support Materials All support materials for this lesson can be found at this Google Link:
SS.5.C.1.5Describe how concerns about individual rights led to the inclusion of theBill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution
SS.5.A.1.1 Use primary and secondary sources to understand history
FS 1003.42 Required Holocaust Education Mandate Public School Instruction
Authors Amy Burch and Kelly Bowen
NOTE: Be sure to preview all materials before using with your students.
Teacher will assess students’ ability to define and give examples of rights via verbal feedback through their verbal responses during “Rights” Brainstorm activity and discussion.
Teacher will assess student’s ability to identify right violations in past historical events via verbal feedback through their verbal responses during discussion ofExcerpts of Rights Violationsfrom Two Regimes – A Mother’s Memoir of Wartime Survival by Teodora Verbitskaya.
Teacher will assess students’ ability to via verbal feedback to student’s verbal responses during 5th Grade Two Regimes Witness to War Exhibition video.
Teacher will assess students’ ability to explain the rights protected by each amendment via verbal and/or written feedback to students’ written responses to Bill of Rights Summary Worksheet.
Teacher will assess students’ ability to create a role play scene that depicts rights violations via verbal feedback to their comments and participation in Role Play Bill of Rights.
Teacher will assess students’ ability to analyze a scenario and identify rights violations via written feedback to their written responses on Allowed or Not Allowed Worksheet.
Teacher will assess students’ ability to identify First Amendment right to Free Speech and apply rights contained in Bill of Rights to lives of 18th century and 21st century Americans via verbal or written feedback on Exit Ticket.
Teacher will assess students’ ability to examine, identify and apply rights and principles of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights in lives of citizens in past, present and future via written response to their assessment essay describing the impact of rights established by First Amendment of the Bill of Rights from the 18th century on individuals or on groups of citizens in 21st century America.
Feedback to Students
Students will receive verbal feedback to their verbal responses during “Rights” Brainstorm activity and discussion.
Students will receive verbal feedback on discussion of Excerpts of Rights Violations from Two Regimes – A Mother’s Memoir of Wartime Survival by Teodora Verbitskaya.
Students will receive verbal feedback to their verbal responses during 5th Grade Two Regimes Witness to War Exhibition video.
Students will receive verbal feedback to their written responses to Bill of Rights Summary Worksheet.
Students will receive verbal feedback to their comments and participation in Role Play Bill of Rights.
Students will receive written feedback to their written responses on Allowed or Not Allowed Worksheet.
Students will receive verbal or written feedback on Exit Ticket.
Students will receive written response to their assessment. Essaydescribing the impact of rights established by First Amendment of Bill of Rights from the 18th century on individuals or on groups of citizens in 21st century America.
Summative Assessment Task:
Students will write an essay that describes the impact of rights established by First Amendment of Bill of Rights from the 18th century on individuals or on groups of citizens in 21st century America.
Teachers will determine their own grading criteria. However, written responses should include demonstrating their understanding of the need for protection of individual rights especially First Amendment rights in a civilized society and how those may or may not look different in 21st century America than they did in the 18th century.
Students will interact with primary and secondary sources to:
Describe the concerns that led to the inclusion of Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution.
Identify and summarize the freedoms in the First Amendment (religion, assembly, press, petition, and speech) and an example of each.
Examine and explain how the right to free speech can conflict with our responsibility to consider rights of others.
What is the primary purpose of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights?
What were concerns of Americans that led to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution?
Why did the framers of the Constitution value freedom of speech?
What constitutes “speech”?
Why are all forms of expression important in a democracy?
Why are there limits to free speech?
Why is it difficult to determine what speech is protected and what speech is unprotected?
How is the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment Freedom of Speech evident in everyday life today?
How does the right to free speech conflict with our responsibility to consider the rights of others?
Students should have some background knowledge of U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Students should have some background knowledge of different types of government.
Students should have some background knowledge of the Holocaust.
Pre-Teach Vocabulary as needed:
form of government where the economy is controlled by the government
the wealth and resources of a country or family, especially with goods and services
Mass killing of Europeans, especially the Jews, by the Nazis during WWII
form of government where the power is with the people
small farms that are owned and controlled by the government
a place where large numbers of people are imprisoned to await death by mass killings
large area of flat, unforested grassland in southeastern Europe and Siberia
location in Moscow of the central offices of the Russian government
A large deep ditch
German prison camp:
a prisoner of war camp where outdoor work is done for the government
The following vocabulary will be introduced to students in Historical Overview of Two Regimes by Dr. Jonathan Grant:
a form of government where one person has unlimited power
a form of government in which a single ruling party owns and controls the entire economy, and in which no private ownership is allowed
a military leader who becomes the head of a country, often by force
a form of government in which the power to govern is directly in the hands of the people rather than elected representatives
a form of government headed by a king or queen who inherits the position, rules for life, and holds power that can range anywhere from between limited to absolute
a form of government in which a small group (often of wealthy people) has total control and power
Ratification: the action of signing or giving formal consent to a treaty, contract, or agreement, making it officially valid
a form of government in which the people elect representatives to make laws for them
to diminish or reduce in scope
law established by judicial decisions as distinguished from law created by legislation
the quality or state of being free: as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
Freedom of speech:
the right to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content and subject only to reasonable limitations
Freedom of religion:
the right to practice the religion of your choice
Freedom of press:
is the right to circulate opinions in print without censorship by the government
Right to Assembly
the right or ability of people to come together as a group to express, promote, pursue, and defend their ideas
Right to Petition Government:
right to make a complaint to, or seek the assistance of, one’s government, without fear of punishment or reprisals
freedom from external (as governmental) restraint, compulsion, or interference in engaging in the pursuits or conduct of one’s choice to the extent that they are lawful and not harmful to others
a person’s justifiable claim, protected by law, to act or be treated in a certain way
Rule of Law:
: the rule of law exists when a state’s constitution functions as the supreme law of the land, when the statutes enacted and enforced by the government invariably conform to the constitution.
forms of expression used to communicate an idea or a thought, not just in words.
Introduce lesson by telling the story of a Ukrainian woman named TeodoraVerbitskaya and her daughters, Lucy and Nadia who experienced the military occupation forces of Nazi Germany in late 1941 during World War II.They witnessed the deportation of 7,500 Jews from Mariupol who were later murdered.The Germans forced Teodora and her daughters to move to Germany and serve as slave laborers.They were liberated from German control by American forces at the end of World War II.
Explain that Teodora Verbitskaya kept diaries of her life experiences that were later published. Then explain that her oldest daughter, Nadia Werbitzky, went on to become an artist and that many of her paintings are memory paintings from her life experiences as a young person.
Explain to students that in this lesson they will interact with the Constitution’s Bill of Rights First Amendment while learning how the rights contained in the Bill of Rights were ignored in the Ukraine and Russia during WWII and the Holocaust. They will examine, identify and apply the Bill of Rights First Amendment especially right to free speech for Americans in the past, present and future. This will be accomplished in part by interacting with the primary source memoir of Teodora Verbitskaya and paintings of her daughter, Nadia Werbitzky. Share that works of these two women were later published in a book entitled Two Regimes – A Mother’s Memoir of Wartime Survival by Teodora Verbitskaya.
For background information see Support Materials:
Historical Overview of Two Regimes by Dr. Jonathan Grant
Historical Overview of the Holocaust by Dr. Michael Berenbaum
Teodora Verbitskaya Biographical Information
Nadia Werbitzky Biographical Information
First review Bill of Rights by sharing with entire class:
Present Historical Overview for Two Regimes by Dr. Jonathan Grant to entire class
Next, present 5th Grade Two Regimes Witness to War Exhibition video to entire class.
View 5th Grade Two Regimes Witness to War Exhibition video – YouTube (Narration in easy to understand American English)
OR view 5th Grade Two Regimes Witness to War Exhibition video – YouTube (Narration in English with a Russian accent) https://youtu.be/sqrMX_oBQJg
After viewing Exhibition, have students work in pairs or small groups to brainstorm the word “rights”. Encourage students to explore all aspects of the word that come to mind. Then have groups create a definition of the word “rights” that they will then share with class.
After sharing as a whole class, further discussion might include:
What rights are granted to you as a citizen of the U.S. that were notgranted to those you learned about in Two Regimes?
Do you feel all people today have equal access to these given rights? Explain.
Describe a time when you felt that one of your rights was violated.Describe your feelings and response to the situation.How do you imagine that those from Two Regimes felt when their rights were violated?
What current events or events in recent history can you think of that relate to rights or the denial of those rights?
Next, display or distribute Excerpts from Two Regimes – A Mother’s Memoir of Wartime Survival by Teodora Verbitskaya that illustrate rights violations.After reading in pairs, small groups or whole class, discuss how it might have felt to be Teodora Verbitskaya, Nadia Werbitzky and others in Two Regimes who experienced these violations of rights.
Next, explain to the class that the Constitution does not define free speech. Explain that people help define freedom of speech when decisions are made by the court. Under the Constitution, the people who have the responsibility and power to shape the government and determine its laws. By bringing free speech disputes to court for resolution, the people request the court to decide if First Amendment rights have been denied. The body of collective court decisions, known as case law, helps to define what freedom of speech means in this country. And it has changed from time to time.
Next, explain that some speech is protected and other is not. Brainstorm as a class why that might be the case. Working in small groups or pairs, have students make a list of examples of protected and unprotected speech then discuss as a whole group.
Present and Discuss Types of Speech with students via class presentation or handout.
See Support Materials for:
Historical Overview for Two Regimes by Dr. Jonathan Grant
Historical Overview of the Holocaust by Dr. Michael Berenbaum
5th Grade Two Regimes Witness to War Exhibition PDF
Excerpts depicting Rights Violations from Two Regimes – A Mother’s Memoir of Wartime Survival by Teodora Verbitskaya
Types of Speech handout
Distribute to each student a copy of Bill of Rights List and Bill of Rights Summary.After working in small groups to verbally read and summarize each Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Next, have each student independently summarize the rights contained in each amendment.Once completed, discuss answers as a class and allow students to make any necessary changes to their work.
Next, have students work in small groups to Role Play Freedom of Speech: Protected or Unprotected. Explain to students that they will work with peers to develop a scene depicting an example of “Protected” or “Unprotected” speech as addressed in the First Amendment of Bill of Rights.The scenes should be realistic and provide important details.Explain that as each scene is presented, the audience’s job is figure out if the scene depicts “Protected” or “Unprotected” speech.After scene is acted out, students should discuss in small groups to determine which type of speech is being depicted and support their choice with details from the scene.
See Support Materials for:
Bill of Rights List
Bill of Rights Summary
Distribute or display a copy of Allowed or Not Allowed worksheet to each student.Have students complete independently.
See Special Materials Needed for:
Allowed or Not Allowed worksheet
Name and explain at least 3 examples each of “Protected” and “Unprotected” speech.
Identify 3 rights violations that were experienced by Teodora Verbitskaya and Nadia Werbitzky and others in Two Regimes.
Students with visual or hearing difficulties may be seated closer to audio/visual equipment.
Students who are non-sighted will be provided with a verbal description of each painting.Teacher should seek assistance from student’s ESE service provider in adapting necessary materials to meet student’s needs.
Teacher will stop the video as necessary for clarification and discussion.
Students who are unable to work in pairs for discussions may choose to share their ideas independently in writing.
Students who struggle with motor skills can use word processor or dictate the independent practice and summative assessment task.
To further extend this lesson:
Students may research court cases related to First Amendment rights violations.
Students may choose an amendment to research in depth and present via media of their choice or teacher’s choice.
Teacher must determine if the paintings in the exhibition are appropriate for the class. It is recommended that the teacher listen to the narrative in advance of lesson.
Students will describe how concerns about individual rights led to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution, especially the First Amendment, and examine violations of individual rights in other countries through a memoir entitled Two Regimes – A Mother’s Memoir of Wartime Survival written by Teodora Verbitskaya with paintings by Nadia Werbitzky who experienced the military occupation forces of Nazi Germany during World War II, witnessed the deportation of 7,500 Jews (who were later murdered), were forced to serve as slave laborers by the Germans, and were liberated from German control by American forces at the end of World War II.
Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the Foundation for Leon County Schools.