Lesson Plan: Overview

Lesson Plan Four: Panel Discussion; Mental Health and Government Today

Grade Level: 8th


Academic Standards

No academic standards available for this lesson plan.

Literacy Elements

A. Distinguish between past, present, and future time
J. Demonstrate responsible citizenship within the school community and the local and national communities

Historical Background Notes

No historical background notes available for this lesson plan.


  Primary Sources
  Mental Health Community Participants
  Panel Presentation by Mental Health Community Participants

Lesson Plans

No lesson plan available.


The conclusion of this lesson unit is a panel discussion of community leaders about the essential question: “What role should government have in treating the mentally ill?”  At least two weeks before you begin this unit, invite and confirm the participation of some community leaders for your discussion.  Some suggested participants include: city or county council member, state legislator, homeless shelter director, SC Department of Mental Health Director, Mental Health Association – SC Director (or other mental health advocate), or a news reporter.  These are just suggestions, use your local resources.  The research, preparation, panel discussion and unit wrap up should each take one class period. 

1. To prepare students for the panel discussion, inform them who is going to be on the panel.  Allow them time to research the organizations that will be represented.  A computer lab would be best, but independent research is also recommended.  Also, assign students to write at least two questions per panel member.  This will help them be prepared for the discussion and allow them more confidence in asking questions.
2. A day or two before the panel discussion, practice the process with your students.  In a typical panel discussion, each member is introduced and allowed to give a brief statement about the topic.  After each member has been introduced, the floor is opened for students to ask questions.  As students ask questions, they stand up, direct their questions and then ask them clearly and loudly.  This is really an exciting process; allow as much time in the discussion as possible for student questions and panel responses.  Some panel discussions allow the speakers to sum up their remarks at the end. 
3. Hold the Panel Discussion.  It should last about an hour.
4. After students participate in the panel discussion, allow them class time to work on their final project – the editorial.  The summative assessment in this unit is an editorial that answers the essential question.  See the exact assignment and grading rubric.  Essentially, students will write an editorial that answers the essential question, and includes the history of mental health in South Carolina, as well as comments made by the panel members.
  Back to "Too Large to be a Lunatic Asylum: South Carolina's Mental Health"

Teacher Reflections

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Student Assessment

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Examples of Students Work

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Provided by the Teaching American History in South Carolina Project