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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers - The Death Penalty: Pros and Cons

Type: Assignment
Subjects: Social Studies, Political Science
Grades: Grades 6-8
Duration: 2 lessons
Purpose: To examine the issues surrounding the death penalty, to form an opinion
Summary: Students will research the death penalty and prepare a short presentation on their findings.

Before Exploring

Ask: Who decides if the death penalty should be legal in Canada? Where are these decisions made? What is the process for deciding the legality of a practice such as the death penalty? Identify the basic roles, bodies, and principles of the Canadian federal government.

Outline the Opportunity

Have students explore the topic Death Penalty Debate on the CBC Digital Archives website for about 45 minutes. Students should note the arguments for and against capital punishment. In groups of four or five, students will share their findings and complete a list of what they think are the most compelling and relevant points for and against capital punishment.

Revisit and Reflect

Have each group present its pros and cons to the class while you create a T-chart on the board. After all the presentations, give the students an opportunity to add more points to either side. Ask: What is your gut reaction to the death penalty? For or against? In reviewing the list on the board, do any of the points make you rethink your initial reactions?


Students can write a letter to their MP expressing their views about capital punishment. Students can share any responses they receive with the class.

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