This lesson plan opens with reflective questions that ask students to consider their prior knowledge of Supreme Court justices and how many have been women. Students then watch, analyze, and respond to an introductory video that details the impetus for law professor Renee Knake Jefferson's co-authoring of "Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court." Next, students explore two clips that include President Richard Nixon's shortlisting of two women for the Supreme Court and how gender diversity on the U.S. Supreme and state courts compare to courts in other democracies. Students then engage in a choice board exploration activity, where they choose to study four of nine different topics. The lesson concludes with a reflective prompt and offers an optional extension activity.
This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.
You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related handouts and engage in discussion to share responses on a discussion board or learning management system.
You can also save and share the following Google resources for students to use with this lesson.
Handout: Graphic Organizer (Google Docs).
Handout: Choice Board (Google Slides).
In Google, choose "File" then "Make a Copy" to get your own copy. You can make any needed adjustments in the instructions such as which activities students need to complete, when it is due, etc. and then make it available to them via Google.
Pose the following brainstorming questions to your students, directing them to record their responses in their graphic organizer, share with a partner, and then with the class if they choose:
Play this introductory video clip [Clip #1] (3:06) for your students. Direct your students to answer the following questions on their graphic organizer:
Direct your students to their graphic organizers to view and define the vocabulary terms that will appear in the lesson in the chart in their graphic organizer handout. The vocabulary words are also listed to the right on this webpage. We recommend having your students define and present the terms in a jigsaw activity to save time.
Depending on time and resources, you may consider having your students define and present the terms in a Frayer's Model activity, where each student takes one or two words. Students can then post their models around the room for reference throughout the lesson. Note: this is not an all-encompassing list of terms included in each video. We recommend you previewing the video clips to determine any necessary additions/subtractions to this list for your specific students.
Direct students to the engagement section of their graphic organizers. Have students view both clips, take notes, and answer each question in their graphic organizers. Encourage your students to share their responses with a partner or small group when finished. Note: each clip features law professor Renee Knake Jefferson, co-author of "Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court."
Clip #2: The Nixon Tapes (4:45)
Clip #3: Comparison to Other Democracies (3:39)
CHOICE BOARD EXPLORATION
Next, have your students choose (or assign) four of the nine topics listed on the choice board (Google Slides). Have students watch the clip and answer the questions for each section. Direct students to prepare to present their findings with the class when finished. Note: each clip features law professor Renee Knake Jefferson, co-author of "Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court."
Clip #4: Amy Coney Barrett and Legal Diversity (3:21)
Clip #5: Sonia Sotomayor and Scrutiny (2:39)
Clip #6: Amalya Kearse and the Current Nomination Process (4:47)
Clip #7: Constance Baker Motley and Ketanji Brown Jackson (4:36)
Clip #8: Sandra Day O'Connor and Cornelia Kennedy (2:56)
Clip #9: Florence Allen and First Ladies (4:45)
Clip #10: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2:46)
Clip #11: Harriet Miers and Carla Hills (2:17)
Clip #12: Future Careers (4:02)
Before having your students complete the final writing prompt, have your students view the following closing video clip [Clip #13] (2:10) and answer the questions. Direct them to share your answers with the class.
Allow time for your students to prepare their findings from the lesson with their peers. After your students are finished sharing their findings from the exploration activity with the class, direct them to complete the final culminating writing prompt in their graphic organizers, and have students share their responses, comparing their perspectives with their classmates' perspectives: Having now learned about the women who have served on the Supreme Court and those who have been “shortlisted,” describe how you envision the court moving forward. Be sure to include evidence from the video clips in the lesson to support your argument.
Have your students conduct additional research into the life and career of one of the women discussed in the lesson (a list is included below). Direct your students to prepare a presentation that includes five key life events, five life accomplishments, and five life difficulties. Have your students share their presentations with their peers and compare their findings with their peers'.