Adrian Morrow reviews the events of January 6th, when an armed mob of President Trump’s supporters broke into the US Capitol in Washington, DC, with the goal of seizing the seat of power to overturn the election of Joe Biden as president.

Getting Started

Introduction to the article: have everyone read it

This lesson is designed for secondary level students and can be used in classrooms or via online learning that involves conversations with other students or a teacher.

Subject Area(s) covered

Social studies, current events, history

New Terms to explain

Invalidate, impeach, sedition, 25th Amendment, insurrection, desecrated, banana republic, revolution, historic, coup (d’etat), criteria

Materials Needed

Access to the article, the Internet

Study and Discussion Activity

Key things students can learn from this lesson

  • Why the events of January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC, USA, are historic;
  • The meaning of key terms used to describe the events, and their historical significance;
  • The significance of the role of President Trump in these events, and the types of consequences he may face as a result.

Action (here’s how we’ll do it)

Understandably, students—and their parents/teachers/caregivers—may have become inured to the daily flood of shocking actions and pronouncements of President Trump. As a result, the events of January 6th may not be taken as seriously as they deserve to be. In simple terms, the events of that day will never be forgotten and will be studied for decades. And more events, yet to happen, could yet outstrip these. Therefore, it is crucially important that students understand the significance of this “failed coup,” as many call it.

Start with a discussion, to learn what students already know about January 6. These questions can help focus the discussion:

  • Did you watch any of the events of that day live, online or on TV?
  • What do you think was happening and how did you feel about it?
  • From what you saw, what was the main goal of the mob—what were they trying to accomplish? The next day, when it was over, how important did you think it was?

Before reading the article, use the Internet to define the following terms, and for each, provide an example of a country where this occurred, historically. [NOTE: Wikipedia is an excellent resource for this. To search, simply type, for example: Wikipedia insurrection. Here’s that link:

  • Insurrection
  • Revolution
  • coup (d’etat)
  • sedition

Next, read the article by Adrian Morrow. This will take you 10 to 15 minutes.

Finally, write a 350-word opinion piece about this article. Note that an informed opinion is not merely a wild guess; it should be supported by facts, so as you write, note the parts of the article that support your view. You should address the following:

  • Do you think that calling these events a “failed coup” is a fair assessment?
  • In what ways did the actions of the mob meet the criteria of an insurrection? Revolution? Sedition?
  • Mr. Trump, in a speech earlier on the 6th of January, urged the mob to move on the Capitol, and was seen and heard to support them, verbally, often before and after the events. Do you believe he bears responsibility for those who were killed that day? If so, what can be done about it within the laws of the United States?
  • Having completed all this, tell how you feel about what you read and learned? Do you think there’s a chance such an event could take place in Canada? If so, how likely is that?
  • Bonus question: Which one of the key groups associated with the mob was first formed in Canada?

Consolidation of Learning

  • When they’ve finished their assignment, students will review their work with others—teacher, student cohort—to compare their interpretations and, perhaps, revise their work.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria

Students can:

  • Describe the events of January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC, USA, and explain why they are historic;
  • Define, in simple terms, words and phrases used to describe the events, and their historical significance
  • Explain the significance of the role of President Trump in these events, and the types of consequences he may face as a result.

Confirming Activities

  • Following a post-exercise discussion, students submit their written work for evaluation, having revised it if they feel it necessary.

Helpful Internet Searches

Activities to do together

  • Watch news events unfold in Washington.
  • Take a virtual tour of the Capitol Building in Washington.