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Mississippi Burning Movie Lesson Plan


  • This resource is a downloadable PDF
  • Ideal for Grades 9-12
  • Perfect for US History, Life Skills, Character Education, or Leadership classes
  • Aligned to Common Core State Standards
  • Activities designed to help students meet Social & Emotional Learning Competencies

Mississippi Burning Movie Lesson Plan helps teachers show students the story of the investigation into the murder of three civil rights workers in a small Mississippi town in 1964 and the vast range of attitudes on race during this historic time.

After completing Mississippi Burning Movie Lesson Plan, students will gain knowledge and clarity in rising above, knowing their integrity, and living by principles.

Check out our list of 75 Engaging Leadership Movies for Students in High School to inspire your students.

Mississippi Burning Leadership Lessons

FBI agents Alan Ward and Rupert Anderson were assigned to work together when the case of three civil rights workers surfaced. When local law enforcement refused to cooperate and the local African-American community was too scared to speak to them, the men found out that they have two very different strategies in trying to solve the case.

Mississippi Burning reveals the depth of racism in 1960’s Mississippi as well as the personal struggles that the people on all sides of the issue faced in making the choice of whether to do good or evil.

Mississippi Burning Movie Lesson Plan teaches us that standing up for what is right and doing good is not easy. It may even put our lives in danger. But in order to make a difference in the world, we often have to encounter situations that test our integrity and whether or not we have the courage to stand by our convictions.

In order to complete these activities, students will need to watch the movie Mississippi Burning, which has a rating of R (violence, profanity, racist language) and a run time of 2 hours and 8 minutes.

*This movie is a fictionalized account of real events.

5 Classroom Activities to Learn Leadership at the Movies

Each of our Leadership at the Movies lesson plans includes the following activities:

✅ Reflection: allows students to journal about one of the movie’s themes prior to watching.

✅ Analysis: questions and prompts to analyze the characters, plot, and climax of the movie.

✅ Practice & Discussion: a partner/group activity that takes the principles of the movie and asks students to take action and grow in their own lives.

✅ Extension: a RAFT (Role-Audience-Format-Topic) writing prompt to help students apply their new knowledge.

✅ Lead for Impact: challenges students to pinpoint how the hero of the story exhibited The 12 Fundamentals of Impact and then synthesize how they can apply the lessons to writing their own story.

Help Students Meet Social Emotional Learning Competencies

WARNING: This is a DEEP LEARNING lesson plan to help students employ a LEADERSHIP approach to SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL LEARNING.

These activities are designed to help students meet the following Social & Emotional Learning Competencies as outlined by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL):

⭐ Develop SELF-AWARENESS and SELF-MANAGEMENT skills to achieve school and life success.

⭐ Use SOCIAL-AWARENESS and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS.

⭐ Demonstrate DECISION-MAKING skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts.

Student Leadership Skills

The activities in Mississippi Burning Movie Lesson Plan will challenge students to move closer to mastery in the following skills: leadership, cooperation with others, creativity, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, and judgment and decision making.


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Leadership at the Movies Bundle

With school-wide access to lesson plans and teaching resources for over 75 movies, you can help your students strive to reach their full potential!