Nelson Mandela

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SWBAT determine Nelson Mandela's impact on civil rights in South Africa.

Big Idea

Students will gain an understanding of Nelson Mandela's successful fight to end apartheid.


1 minutes


14 minutes

I begin today's lesson with a picture of Nelson Mandela.  I ask my students if they know who this is.  Some students say Nelson Mandela and go on to further state that he recently died.  I confirm that the picture is of Nelson Mandela and that today we will examine Mr. Mandela's life and significance in the civil rights struggle in South Africa.  I tell them that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in South Africa for 27 years because of his fight against an unfair legal system of racial segregation called apartheid which treated people of color unfairly. I explain that racial segregation is when whites and blacks or people of color are separated simply because of their race.  They are unable to use the same facilities such as restrooms, restaurants, schools, etc.  They also cannot marry one another.  While in prison, Mr. Mandela secretly met with South African President F. W. De Klerk and helped to end apartheid.  Once he was released from prison, he became the first black President of South Africa.  I told my students that in 1993, Nelson Mandela and F.W. De Klerk both won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to end apartheid in South Africa.  I, then, show students a Brainpop video about apartheid and have them take the brief comprehension quiz to check their understanding.  I chose to teach this lesson now because of Nelson Mandela's recent death.  Many of my students have heard of the Civil Rights Movement here in America.  I want my students to understand that other nations deal with civil rights issues, as well.   I believe it builds their global competencies.


Close Read

35 minutes

Next, I do a read aloud of a Scholastic News article on Nelson Mandela as students follow along on the Smartboard. I read the article to model fluency and to get students to practice their listening skills. After reading the article, I ask students comprehension questions (see attached Powerpoint).


10 minutes

To close the lesson, I have students to do a quick write about why they believe Nelson Mandela was important to the world and what are some important lessons that can be learned from examining the life of Nelson Mandela. An important lesson that my students gained from the lesson that they shared was never give up fighting for something you believe in. I explained to my students that there were many South African people who were imprisoned for fighting against apartheid.  I asked them why did they think that Nelson Mandela became such a popular figure to people worldwide.  My students told me that they believed Nelson Mandela is so popular and important in history because he was a good speaker and leader of his political party and although he was jailed for 27 years, he still worked to end apartheid.  He was also the first black President of South Africa.  They further explained that when he was released from prison, he didn't try to get revenge on the government for imprisoning him.  Instead, he worked toward reconciliation or bringing the nation back together.

Be sure to continue the unit with the next lesson - Nelson Mandela Words of Wisdom.