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Injustice Lesson Plan

Author: Ashley Boyack

Year: 2015

Artform: Dance

Subjects: Social Studies

Grade: 6th

Duration: Two 45 minute classes

  • Determine human rights and responsibilities in the world.
  • Propose steps individual students can take to protect these rights.
  • Identify and discuss leaders of the 20th century who impact the world.
  • Identify rights considered essential for all humans.

Standards and Objectives

Time: Place Value
Energy: Movement Exploration with differentiated qualities
Determine human rights and responsibilities in the world.
a. Investigate pressing issues facing the world.
b. Identify potential solutions to pressing issues.
c. Identify individuals and groups making positive changes in the world today and support these choices with evidence
Students will explore how people in the world have fought injustice through movement.





Explore these words in 16 count intervals. (Then 8 counts, 4 counts, 2 counts and 1 count) or (allow students to choose the word and then decide how many counts it will take 1-8)

  • Balance
  • Support
  • Shift
  • Walk
  • Open
  • Reach

Explain that these words are non-violent ways of moving. They move in peace without conflict. They have a harmonious quality and energy (use peaceful music).

Explore these words with more energetic music. (Still use 16 counts with each word. Then 8 counts, 4, 2, and 1 count) or (allow students to choose the word and then decide how many counts it will take 1-8)

  • Restrain
  • Pounce
  • Explode
  • Run
  • Dart

Explain or discuss how these words are different. These words have a lot of energy and could be harmful to others if you actually had things to restrain, explode or pounce on. These words are more violent in nature compared to the first.

Explore and Identify:

Those who fought injustice often had to have a commanding presence to convince and teach people about the injustice that was occurring to their country, community or family. In our warm up today we are going to discuss simple ways to display justice we might see occurring in our daily activities and how we might move them.

If someone is fighting injustice how would they stand?

Make four different shapes that display energy such as strong, proud, tall, confidently. Pay attention to your levels. Create interest in your shapes as you make them.

Move through the space walking confidently. If someone is ‘commanding presence’ in a society it means they want to stand for something. What other locomotors can be performed with confidence? Skipping, sliding, running, plunging, hobbling, marching, reaching, defending.

Create phrases based on the movements students give that can move confidently. (As the teacher you might need to model the difference between confident and ordinary. When this is done, show how every motion is emphasized and explain that to students.)


The following are scenarios. Explore these or other scenarios your class comes up with that promote making good decisions for a community, family or self. Then create a sequence of movement that helps students find confidence in being kind and helpful to their community.

Scenario #1:

If someone is littering, that is not showing good community involvement. Bend and reach for 8 counts to show your love for this land as you pick up garbage and toss it in a garbage can. Bend and pick up 1,2,3,4,5,6,toss it in the garbage 7and 8.

Scenario #2:

Displaying a flag is patriotic...sway for 8 counts using your whole upper body!

Scenario #3:

Stand strong, proud, and tall for 8 counts

Scenario #4:

Men and Women defend the country by joining the army, navy, or marines. Defending can be displayed by guarding a partner and not letting them pass you. Partners must never touch each other and they cannot move from the space they are in either. Encourage reaching high and low and side to side. You could do this by guarding back to back and front to front without touching. When people are fighting for their country they are defending freedom, equality and justice.

Scenario #5:

Freedom can be movement that is chosen by the individual 8 counts. However freedom also has parameters’. Just because you are free, does not mean you can go out and rob a bank. In your freedom dance there are also parameters. You may not run or walk and you may not touch anyone as you move.

Scenario #6:

Equality with a partner ask students to create mirrored shapes that are the space. Showing equality. You may want to ask that the shapes are perpendicular like an equals sign too.

Scenario #7:

Justice is fair behavior or treatment: If you can trust students have them get a partner and then work on cantilever shapes. Giving and taking weight is sharing one another’s burden. Discuss how sharing the weight is making it fair for both people to be supported.


If time allows let students create their own scenario’s and have them create a movement phrase to show the meaning of the justice displayed.


Creating and Investigating continue: (this may take you to the second day) Begin to discuss how the four men below used nonviolent ways to express INJUSTICE to Humans.

  • Ghandi
  • Sugihara
  • Cezar Chavez
  • Martin Luther King

They used: Hunger Strikes, Boycotts, Marches, Negotiating, Imprisonment, Sit Ins.

Add movement vocabulary to each word creating a sequence for the students to perform. This could be done as a class or separated into groups. If separated into groups I suggest a strong foundation of movement for each word and let the students organize and decide length of time for each word and the pathways each will take.

Below are examples of movement vocabulary for each word and an organization of a sequence. I approach it in this way. It works well, especially with first time movers.

Hunger Strikes:

A whole note reaching out with whole body. As if you were reaching for food. Change your reach each time you begin a new whole note.

Example: stretch 1,2,3,4 Stretch 1,2,3,4 Stretch 1,2,3,4


Occurs when individuals or groups of people refuse to participate in an activity or function in order to show their opposition to its occurrence. Everyone moves to the outside space. In half note time Reaching up and down to reach edges of the space.

Example: Stretch high 1,2, Stretch low 3,4, stretch High 1,2, stretch low 3,4

Sit Ins:

Quarter notes. Find a low shape for each quarter note. Move at least 4 quarter notes together.

Low shape, 1, low shape 2, low shape 3, low shape 4.

Marches/ Picketts: eighth notes moving on the beat in parallel lines as if you were at a march or rally. I designate moving East and West or North or South. Marching on the beat.

Example: March 1 1⁄2 2 1⁄2 3 1⁄2 4 1⁄2


Students need to partner up with another student. Then they pull away doing a cantilever shape. This represents negotiating how much you give and take to make things equal.


Creating shapes that encompass a member of the group or class. The encompassed student must be compliant in their experience as a prisoner. They might also make huddles or an over and under shape with one partner.


Connect and Analyze

Below are examples of People in the World who have fought injustice.

First, read the information about the individual. Then underline the words that we have explored in class that describe how this person fought injustice. Create a phrase organizing the underlined words into a pattern.

Second. Read the phrase that the individual said and create a dance as you talk and move the words.


Fought for the improvement of farm workers. As a child he toiled in the fields as a migrant worker. He used nonviolent hunger strikes as a means to help farmers. He also worked to improve their wages by Marches and boycotts. Hunger Strikes contributed to his death.

He was known to say: “Talk is cheap...It is the way we organize and use our lives every day that tells what we believe in.”

Movement pattern example:

Hunger Strikes: stretching 4 whole notes

Marches: 16 eighth notes moving

Boycott: 8 half notes moving high and low and exiting the space RHYTHM or Movement PATTERN for the QUOTE to end!


He was a negotiator and diplomat who fought for the human rights of Jews escaping Russia. He saved over 40,000 people’s lives because of his nonviolent actions. He was imprisoned in a soviet internment camp for helping Jews escape.

“In life do what’s right because its right, and leave it alone.”

(Feet in out in gallop back arms over into folded arm position.)

Movement pattern example:

Negotiating: cantilever pull.

Imprisonment: shapes that are bound or bars and slow motion! Kindness: partner dance



He campaigned for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, and social injustice. (South Africans treated Indians as second class citizens.) He participated in hunger strikes, negotiated as a lawyer, and was imprisoned for his views. He was assassinated for his political agenda.

“My life is my message”

Big step forward with a stomp on life, arms open up crossing in front and then opening at the top!


He was a nonviolent civil rights advocate. He also advocated for the rights of Vietnam veterans. He participated and promoted boycotts, sit -ins, and Marches. He was a pastor who had a gift for speaking and leading others. He was assassinated by a sniper.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.’”

Kneel down one day turn on bottom on rise up step up to standing....jump side to side with arms pushing side to side stand together on creed. (old pattern for we hold these truths....)


Invite students to perform their group patterns for each other. Ask students to identify the vocabulary they recognize in the sequences they see.

We will integrate dance and curriculum to explore the way people have fought injustice in our world.
How have people fought injustice throughout history?
  • Hunger Strikes
  • Boycotts
  • Marches
  • Negotiating
  • Imprisonment
  • Sit Ins
Students will watch and identify the vocabulary they see moving in a sequence.
For an informance students can prepare their groups sequences as a part of the dance. They can start out together showing the audience all the types of injustice they talked about. Then share the group patterns. You might find a person who has fought injustice that you could do in unison together to finish.


  • Drum