Capital Punishment Lesson Plan

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson plan uses a video lesson and quiz, several activities, an optional essay as well as discussion questions to help students learn and think through the various aspects of capital punishment.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson plan's activity, extension, and discussion, students should be able to:

  • Define capital punishment
  • Identify the various forms of capital punishment
  • Discuss the pros/cons of capital punishment in general as well as specific forms of capital punishment


45-90 minutes without the activity

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).


Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.


Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.


Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author's claims.


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Key Terms

  • Capital punishment
  • Crucifixion
  • Draw and quarter
  • Hanging
  • Firing squad
  • Electric chair
  • Lethal injection


Warm Up

  • Start the class by asking:
    • What is capital punishment?
    • Can you name some methods of capital punishment?


  • Begin the video lesson Capital Punishment: Definition, Forms & Moral Arguments
  • After you've finished watching it all the way through, use the following questions and topics for your class discussion on capital punishment:
    • How did the term capital punishment get its name?
    • Discuss why, during the Enlightenment period, people began to consider less severe forms of capital punishment.
    • Mini-activity: have students take out a piece of paper and rank, in order from most painful to least painful, the methods of execution discussed in this video lesson. This is an exercise in opinion, not fact. Students should then share their ranking and justify why they believe one to be less/more severe/painful than another.
  • Student should take the lesson quiz
  • Review the questions and answers together as a class.

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