Overview: Introduce students to the literary and historical theme of civil disobedience with Antigone by Sophocles. An interdisciplinary lesson between language arts and social studies prompts high schoolers to research a person who engaged in civil disobedience, present their findings, and determine whether the act of civil disobedience was effective.
Subject: English Language Arts: Reading Literature; Social Studies: Cultural & Social Studies, World History, United States History
Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Duration: 2 hours
Related Concepts: Antigone, Oedipus, Civil Disobedience, Law, Justice, Greek Tragedy, Sophocles, Performing Arts, Research
Students will be able to:
- Apply the themes of civil disobedience in Antigone to a history research project and poster.
Essential Questions: Is civil disobedience an effective form of protest? Has it been effective throughout history?
Vocabulary: Greek tragedy, civil disobedience, Greek chorus
Common Core Standards Addressed:
- ELA: Speaking & Listening
- SL.9-10.1, 4, 6
- SL.11-12.1, 4, 6
- ELA: Writing
- Poster board or large paper
- Projection system
Context: The lesson is designed to be used at the end of a unit on Antigone, after students have already read the play.
Prompt learners to answer the following questions: "What is civil disobedience?"
Review Henry David Thoreau's concept of civil disobedience with the class. Discuss whether Antigone practiced civil disobedience when she chose to bury her brother; ask for evidence from the text to support students' arguments.
Brainstorm examples of people from history who have broken the law for a moral reason thus engaging in civil disobedience. Provide examples if necessary (e.g. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Mahatma Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony, etc.)
Place students with a partner. In the first class period, have students research a person in history who engaged in civil disobedience and plan a presentation with a visual aid. In the second class period (or second half of a longer period), have groups present their research. Encourage individuals to take notes on the presentations, as they can use that information in a later assignment.
Divide the class into small groups and pass out scenarios. Give groups 5-10 minutes to decide how they will act the scenario in two ways: first, to show the person interrupting, and second, to show a better way to wait his or her turn. Groups can act out the scenarios and discuss why they decided to depict the story in that way. See if classmates have other ideas for the person to avoid interrupting.
Assign an argument essay for homework that answers the following question: "Is civil disobedience an effective form of protest?" They may use evidence from their own presentations or notes they took from peers' presentations.
- Assess the group poster and a presentation.
- Use a writing rubric to assess learners' understanding and application of civil disobedience.
Provide a mentor text for English learners.
For struggling readers, conduct research on one individual as a class to model the process.
Allow advanced learners to discuss or write about modern examples of civil disobedience around the world.
Students can make connections between Antigone and the person they researched by doing a compare/contrast essay, poster, or presentation.
Have learners create thematic statements based on the topic of civil disobedience as they read the play.
Use ideas from this article to extend the literary theme across various novel unit.