Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Hall of Injustice, Part 1

Guided Inquiry Research

Polly Base, Polly Base, Polly Base, Rhonda Slatten, Daniel Schwarz | Published: May 26th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 7th, 8th, 9th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts, Social Studies
  • Course Course Oklahoma History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 200 minutes
  • Duration More 4-5 class periods


This lesson focuses on comparing and contrasting fiction and nonfiction, writing a researchable inquiry question, and developing justice-based research questions. Students will familiarize themselves with the Tulsa Race Massacre and then read an excerpt from the novel "Dreamland Burning," followed by a news article related to the event. Using that context, students will learn how to write higher-order thinking inquiry questions and develop inquiry-based research questions.

Essential Question(s)

What is injustice?  How does the portrayal of injustice in historical fiction compare with the portrayal of the same event in the news?



Students view two videos highlighting injustice and complete a Four Corners activity.


With a partner, each student develops a definition for "injustice" and shares their definition with the class using Mentimeter.


Students read and highlight excerpts from a historical fiction novel and a news article regarding the same act of injustice, then compare and contrast the two accounts by completing an H-Chart.


Students develop an injustice-based inquiry question with real-world connections.


Students submit their H-Charts and research questions for evaluation.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Parent Letter regarding the lesson content (attached; one per student)

  • Four Corners posters (attached; one set)

  • Excerpt (pages 23–27) from the novel Dreamland Burning, by Jennifer Latham (attached; one per student)

  • Research Questions Choice Board handout (attached, optional; one per student)

  • H-Chart handout (attached; one per student)

  • Tip of the Iceberg handout (attached; one per student)

  • Printed copies of the "Tulsa Race Massacre" article from the Oklahoma Historical Society (attached; one per student)

  • Link to (or printed copies) of the Tulsa World article by Randy Krehbiel about the Tulsa Race Massacre (link in lesson text below)

  • Notecards (one per student)

  • Plain paper

  • Markers (one per group of students)

  • Highlighters (two different colors per student)


Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Briefly display and discuss the essential questions on slide 2. Next, invite students to watch two videos related to the topic of injustice.

Move to slide 3, and show the first video: "Eight-Year-Old Girl Calls Tesco Out Over 'Sexist' Kids Clothes." Play the video until the 1:37 mark.

After watching this video, invite students to engage in a Four Corners activity. (You can do this activity by directing your students towards different corners in your classroom; additionally can use the following link to do the activity digitally: Four Corners Engage Activity (Video #1: Boys' vs. Girls' Clothing). Ask students to respond to the statement, "Boys should wear 'boy' clothes, and girls should wear 'girl' clothes." Students should choose one of the responses on the Four Corners signs posted around the room by moving to the area of the room corresponding to their opinion: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree. Invite each student to discuss their choice within their group. If groups are large, break them into subgroups for discussion. After groups have discussed their choices, ask a volunteer from each group to share out. Give students an opportunity to reconsider their choices and change groups after the share-out. Ask for volunteers from those who changed groups to explain their reasoning.

Move to slide 4. Show the second video: "Would you stop if you saw this little girl on the street?"

Repeat the Four Corners activity in the same way as you did for the first video, this time having students respond to the statement, "Students at our school don’t judge each other based on how they dress." (You can use the following link to do the activity digitally: Four Corners Engage Activity (Video #2: Poverty).)


Display slide 5. Remind students about the videos depicting unjust situations, and have them work with a partner to write a definition of injustice. Have student pairs use Mentimeter to share their definitions with the class. When students are finished, display the answers, and discuss them as a class.


Display slide 6. Introduce students to the Jigsaw strategy. This is intended to activate student interest and understanding about the events that occurred on May 31 and June 1, 1921, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Pass out the attached Oklahoma Historical Society Article.

Before reading begins, have students first number the paragraphs in the article (a total of 15). Then, number students off based on the number of groups needed. For example, you might create five groups, numbering students from 1-5, and have each group read three paragraphs.

Invite students to use the Jigsaw strategy as they read and discuss the article from the Oklahoma Historical Society. Ask each group of students to read their assigned paragraphs, and using a marker, to write a 1–2 sentence summary on a plain sheet of paper. Each group should appoint a spokesperson to read the summary. Starting with the first group, have each spokesperson read their group’s summary. This way, the class works together to summarize the full article.

Display slide 8. Pass out a copy of the attached Dreamland Burning Excerpt to each student. This excerpt is from the historical fiction novel Dreamland Burning, by Jennifer Latham. Invite students to read the passage, which addresses the subject of injustice. As they are reading, ask students to think about the question, What is the injustice in this excerpt? Pass out the attached Categorical Highlighting handout, and ask students to use the Categorical Highlighting strategy as they read, keeping track of racially discriminatory and inflammatory language. Have students choose two highlighter colors, using one to highlight racially discriminatory language and the other to highlight inflammatory language.

Display slide 9, and pass out copies of the attached H-Chart handout. Utilizing the Paired Texts H-Chart strategy, invite students to take notes on the H-Chart handout using the text they highlighted in their reading in response to the question, What is the injustice in this excerpt? Ask students to provide text evidence with parenthetical documentation from the text they highlighted. After recording their answers on the left side of the H-Chart, have students discuss their answers with a partner.

Display slide 10. Next, invite students to read the more recent attached Tulsa World Article or have students access the article online: "Tulsa Race Massacre: 1921 Tulsa newspapers fueled racism, and one story is cited for sparking Greenwood's burning," (via digital or physical copy) pertaining to the Tulsa Race Massacre. Have students use the same Categorical Highlighting strategy to highlight discriminatory and inflammatory language. As with the previous article, you may choose to print copies of this article for your classroom, or have students access the article on their Internet-connected devices.

Display slide 11. Ask students to go back to their H-Charts and record notes from the text to answer the question "What are the examples of injustice in this article?" Ask them to also include evidence from the text to support their examples.

When students finish, display slide 12. Invite students to discuss the newspaper article and how it relates to the fiction piece with their partner. Then, have students write a paragraph that answers the following question in the center of their H-Chart: What do these two texts tell us about injustice?

Display slide 13. Invite pairs to use the Inverted Pyramid strategy, partnering with another pair to share their thoughts about injustice and how injustice in fiction relates to its focused historical event—in this case, the Tulsa Race Massacre. If time permits, combine each group of four with another group of four and repeat the process. End the activity by facilitating a whole-class discussion about what students learned regarding injustice.


Show the video on slide 14, "Instant Inquiry: Level 1, 2, and 3 Questions," to introduce students to the process for writing inquiry questions.

Talk through slides 14-15 with the class to review the three levels of inquiry questions that were introduced in the video. Emphasize to students that high-quality inquiry questions are open-ended, researchable, and establish real-world connections.

Display slide 16. Show students (or pass out copies of) the attached Research Questions Choice Board. Then, discuss the appropriate way to write a high-level inquiry question.

Display slide 17. Ask students to write a research question that considers whether banning cell phones from the classroom would be considered an act of injustice. Start by having the class brainstorm the potential negative effects of cell phones in the classroom. Then, elicit help from the students to develop a good research question.

Display slide 18, and pass out a Tip of the Iceberg handout to each student. Facilitate a brainstorming session in which students use the Tip of the Iceberg strategy to collectively identify deeper questions that they have regarding the Tulsa Race Massacre. After the class discussion, each student should identify and note on their handouts (using the area below the surface) topics relating to the event that they are curious to learn more about.

Display slide 19, and pass out an index card to each student. Using the results of your brainstorming session, guide students through the process of choosing an injustice-based research question with real-world connections regarding the Tulsa Race Massacre. Invite students to develop three of their own questions; then, have each student hand over their questions to at least two other students in the class for peer review. Peer reviewers should evaluate the questions using the following criteria: Is the question open-ended (starting with what, why, or how)? Is the question researchable? Does the question make real-world connections? Ask students who are peer-reviewing to initial the questions they evaluate.


Ask students to select one favorite question from their card that they would like to research further and star that question. Then, have each student submit their card with all three questions to you for evaluation. You might also choose to ask students to submit their H-Charts for evaluation.