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Language-aware lesson example: Is it ever okay to break a law? (High School)

Men in suits, some wearing a minister's clerical collar, carry picket signs reading "Segregation is Morally Wrong" in front of a Woolworths store.
Image credit: Protest by ministers ( (Ministers Protest Segregationist Policies, 1960. Ministers outside an F.W. Woolworth store in New York City, April 14, 1960, protest the store's lunch counter segregation at the chain's southern branches.
Year Start
Year End

Explore primary sources connected to the Civil Rights movement.

The English Learner Collaborations project of the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies commissioned the development of lessons to illustrate applying English Language Development (ELD) teacher resources to History and Social Studies content.

By the end of the sequence of lessons linked below, students should be able to explain the principles of non-violent civil disobedience, and will be able to provide examples of non-violent civil disobedience.

Focus skills include:

  • Annotating a text
  • Identification of the main idea
  • Use of evidence to support opinions/claims


Focus Academic Language (students will be exposed to, and offered practice with a mix of the following):

  • A variety of clauses to frame details, examples, quotes, data ("according to," "historians agree/disagree," "several sources suggest," "these data suggest")
  • Adverbial and prepositional phrases to specify time (duration, specific date or range), location, how or why something happened
  • A variety of verb forms to express agency in doing, thinking, saying, feeling actions ("they resisted," "she planned," "children were peaceably protesting when")


Through the lessons, students will practice and apply strategies to analyze primary source materials. This is a multi-day sequence of lessons, that can be taught as a sequence, or teachers can select the most salient lesson(s) from the sequence.

Note: Lessons can be extended over a few days or combined, depending upon the length
of the class periods.

Language-aware lessons are intended to support all students, especially Multilingual Learners who are still developing in English, access primary-source rich learning


The PDF version of this lesson is annotated with connections to the terms and principles from the WIDA 2020 ELD framework, and with suggestions for additional supports and preparation depending on the needs of the students in the classroom, this lesson provides a plan to meet not only history content objectives but language objectives. 

PDF: Language-aware lesson example:  Is it ever okay to break a law? (High School)


The editable version (free to copy and adapt) incorporates teacher feedback and suggestions during piloting of the initial lesson draft. 

Updated version: Language-aware lesson example:  Is it ever okay to break a law? (High School)


These lessons are made accessible here to encourage teacher thinking and feedback--please share your observations by emailing Content created and featured in partnership with the TPS program does not indicate an endorsement by the Library of Congress. 

Suggested citation for language-aware lessons linked below: Audet, A. and Noyes, A. (2022). Primary source lessons demonstrating practical applications of WIDA 2020 principles and resources for elementary, middle school, and high school social studies teaching. Extending the reach of primary sources: English Learner Collaborations project of the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies.