Introduction

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 15, 1933. She was a pioneer for women’s rights and other social justice issues. She was the second woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993. Before her time as a Supreme Court justice, she was the director of the Women’s Rights Project for the ACLU. She argued six landmark cases to the Supreme Court on gender equity during her time in this position. In the wake of her recent death, as the country honors her life and career achievements, so can teachers in the classroom. Her biography and unwavering fight for gender equity will elicit rich discussions and debates on important issues. Learning about Ginsburg can also motivate students to fight for social justice issues or to take an interest in studying law. 

Resources

There are a variety of lesson plans, activities, media, and other resources available for teachers interested in honoring Ginsburg in the classroom. Whether teachers want to focus on her biography and career, discuss important social justice and gender equity issues, or focus on the political implications of her death, there are a plethora of resources for each angle. Either way, teaching about RBG in the classroom can be a powerful and inspiring topic!

Lesson Plans

  1. Lesson of the Day: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court’s Feminist Icon, is Dead at 87”: The New York Times created a lesson plan to teach students about her life and influence on the law and in men and women’s gender roles. This lesson plan is meant for high school students. It includes a video with discussion questions as well as creative options for students to apply what they have learned and what their opinions are about RBG.
  2. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Legacy on the Supreme Court: PBS NewsHour Extra provides a video with warm-up questions and follow-up questions. The lesson also includes a series of media literacy questions to check student understanding and comprehension and challenge them to think critically about media.
  3. Meaning of Life According to Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Actively Learn has created an interactive text for students to answer questions as they read to check their understanding and comprehension. This lesson would be perfect for virtual learning and partner reading.
  4. Ruth Bader Ginsburg Multimedia Resources and Lesson Plan for Teachers: In this lesson, students read three essays by students, followed by discussion questions. The teacher can split the class into groups and have each group read one of the essays and then have those students share with the rest of the class what they read. This would be a great way to lead into a discussion.

Articles

  1. The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and WRP Staff: This ACLU article goes into detail about RBG’s academic achievements and early career with consideration to her time working with the ACLU. 
  2. The Irony of Modern Feminism’s Obsession with Ruth Bader Ginsburg: This Atlantic article focuses on Ginsburg’s life and how her belief in the powerful transformation of the law was the center of her career. It also detangles her cult following as a modern feminist icon from her approach to law and to her job as a Supreme Court justice. 
  3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Academy of Achievement shares RBG’s biography, career profile, and an interview along with a gallery of photos taken throughout her life and career. This article is useful for teachers who want to increase their knowledge about RBG’s life and her career successes and accomplishments.

Informational Sites

  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg Fast Facts: CNN shares fast facts about RBG for teachers who may need a refresher or as a resource to share with students. 
  2. What Ginsburg’s Death Could Mean for 2020 and the Supreme Court: Five Thirty Eight covers the political implications of RBG’s death and the impact filling the empty seat left by her will have on 2020 and beyond. Great article for teachers who want to facilitate political discussions among students in the class using current events.

Conclusion

Teaching about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg allows teachers to cover a variety of different civic engagement topics and discussion questions on important issues and current events. It can also be a great way for students to learn about the judicial branch of the government and the Supreme Court. With that said, lessons about RBG can be inspiring and can empower students to stand-up against social injustice and to fight for justice within the law in the same way Ginsburg did.

Additional Resources

  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Her Own Words:  In this Youtube video, ABC News relives some of RBG’s iconic moments. 
  2. Books to Celebrate the Life & Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The NY Public Library shares a list of books about RBG, both her life and career. Included in the list are a variety of books for different reading levels, especially children’s books that would help teach about RBG to younger learners. 
  3. Eight Unforgettable Quotes from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: NY Legal Assistance Group shares some powerful quotes RBG said throughout her lifetime. They could be useful for teachers who would like students to analyze what they mean as a daily journal prompt or to facilitate a general discussion about her. during a lesson.