Sample Teaching Plans: Legal Aftermath of May 4

Dissent, the First Amendment, and Social Change [8]
Plan for a collaborative semester-long course featuring a mock trial, readers theater, speakers, and choice of protest movement to research. Students share that work in a community storywalk, along with a documentary on their final community action project.

Kent State Lesson Plan [19]
US Supreme Court decisions affecting pre-college student rights; one most important to each student. May 4: Doug Wrentmore interview; why didn’t students leave area?; who was responsible? May 4 meaning for citizens & dissenters today. Activities incl. creating late night talk show and a debate.

Kent State University May 4, 1970 [24]
Includes overview of May 4, the resulting national student strike, and memorialization. Preparation for a mock trial has students review larger protest movement; KSU protests May 1–3, 1970; decisions to deploy Guard to Kent and to fire on students; testimonies from those on site May 4.

KSU Shootings [26]
Previous study includes Nixon’s Cambodia invasion announcement and his calling student protestors “bums.” Sources to build understanding of May 4 include photos, “Ohio,” site visit and maps, chronology. Students select from a project choice board that includes: what they’d have done on May 4; prosecution of the 28 guardsmen who fired; creative work; comparing Orangeburg, Kent State, Jackson State; Supreme Court decisions on student free speech; and bios of Allison Krause, Jeff Miller, Sandy Scheuer, and Bill Schroeder, killed by guardsmen on May 4.

Making Meaning NEH May 4 [30]
Inquiry questions incl.: Why do historians and people tell different stories about the same event? Which accounts of the past get the most attention? How are facts different than opinions? To reach understanding, students look at detailed evidence for both Kent the City and Kent the University to argue which sources were most credible; who was most responsible for the shootings; and why people describe the same events differently.

Unit Plan: Topics of the 60s [59]
Opening up the history of May 4 through several lenses and a range of activities, this plan creates space for students to process their feelings and views. They progress through the draft lottery; First Amendment; protest; the May 4 site; and the federal civil trial brought by the May 4 families. They blog, reflect, analyze, create a digital collage for a public gallery walk, and conduct an oral history with someone who experienced the long sixties.

Were 1st Amendment rights violated on the Kent State Campus on May 4, 1970? [63]
Students look through frames including the First Amendment; US Supreme Court decisions; patterns during the long sixties; messages of protest music; May 4 chronology; the lives of Allison, Bill, Sandy, and Jeff; witness accounts; and evidence of the historic site to gauge the balance of rights and injustice and reflect on connections to their own lives.

What was the cause of the Kent State Shooting? [64]
Multiple perspectives/types of sources—testimonial, chronological, comparable, legal—prepare students to consider motive and justice in the Kent State shootings case & student activism then and now.