Classroom Resources

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Who's Voting Now?

This activity asks students to read and compare the language of selected civil rights legislation.

Activity
Justice
Grades 9 to 12

The 26th Amendment

This is the fifth and final lesson in a series called “Expanding Voting Rights.” The overall goal of the series is for students to explore the complicated history of voting rights in the United States.

Lesson
Rights
Justice

America by the Numbers

America by the Numbers with Maria Hinojosa, a new documentary series produced by the Harlem-based Futuro Media Group, reveals how dramatic changes in the composition and demographics of the United States are playing out across the country. The eight-part series expands upon a pilot broadcast that aired on PBS in September 2012.

Lesson

Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice: Confronting Unjust Laws

In this lesson, students will analyze a photograph of people protesting what they see as an unjust law: A law prohibiting marriage equality in California. This lesson is part of the Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice series.

Lesson
Action

“Mainstream, USA”

The first episode in the America by the Numbers series, “Mainstream, USA,” welcomes viewers to Clarkston, Georgia—one of the most diverse square miles in the United States. Designated as a refugee resettlement site in the 1980s, Clarkston is home to people from over 40 different countries. Once a hub for the Ku Klux Klan, the city has gone from being 90 percent white to 82 percent non-white in just 30 years. The episode examines how Clarkston’s daily realities reflect wider demographic trends and explores the collaborations and collisions that are occurring between the old and new South. “Mainstream, USA” also takes a look at how new residents of the United States long to be part of the political process. 

Lesson
Immigration
Diversity

Talking About Race and Racism

What do educators need to participate in an open and honest conversation about the content of The New Jim Crow? Effective instruction about The New Jim Crow requires advanced preparation for how to talk about race and racism.

Lesson

Introducing 'The New Jim Crow'

In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander explores complex questions about the criminal justice system and the history of race and racial justice in the United States. 

Lesson

Slavery as a Form of Racialized Social Control

How did racial hierarchy adapt and persist after Emancipation? Throughout its history, the United States has been structured by a racial caste system. From slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration, these forms of racialized social control reinvented themselves to meet the needs of the dominant social class according to the constraints of each era. 

Lesson

Jim Crow as a Form of Racialized Social Control

How did Jim Crow function as a mechanism of racialized social control? Throughout its history, the United States has been structured by a racial caste system. From slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration, these forms of racialized social control reinvented themselves to meet the needs of the dominant social class according to the constraints of each era. 

Lesson

Mass Incarceration as a Form of Racialized Social Control

What is the “new Jim Crow”? Throughout its history, the United States has been structured by a racial caste system. From slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration, these forms of racialized social control reinvented themselves to meet the needs of the dominant social class according to the constraints of each era. 

Lesson

The War on Drugs—Mechanisms and Effects

Mass incarceration is fueled by a highly funded and minimally constrained criminal justice system that traps people branded as “criminals,” even individuals without a criminal record, into a permanent undercaste.

Lesson

Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System

Racialized social control has adapted to race-neutral social and political norms in the form of mass incarceration. Criminalization stands in as a proxy for overt racism by limiting the rights and freedoms of a racially defined undercaste.

Lesson

Understanding the Prison Label

What is the long-term harm and wider impact of mass incarceration on people and communities of color? The racial caste system established and perpetuated by mass incarceration continues beyond a prison sentence and extends into families, communities and society at large. The criminalization and demonization of black men creates a “prison label” of stigma and shame that damages the black community as a whole.

Lesson

Parallels Between Mass Incarceration and Jim Crow

What are the most salient similarities between mass incarceration and Jim Crow? Mass incarceration is a system of racialized social control that, like slavery and Jim Crow before it, operates to discriminate and create a stigmatized racial group locked into an inferior position by law and custom.

Lesson

Dismantling Racial Caste

What is needed to end mass incarceration and permanently eliminate racial caste in the United States? Legal and policy solutions alone are not enough to dismantle racial caste because the methods of racial control within this system are “legal” and rarely appear as outwardly discriminatory. A social movement that confronts the role of race and cultivates an ethic of care must form or else a new racial caste system will emerge in the future.

Lesson

Through Someone Else’s Eyes: Perspectives from Coeur d’Alene

The third episode in the America by the Numbers series, “Our Private Idaho,” takes viewers to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Once the epicenter of the Aryan Nations’ white-supremacy movements, Coeur d’Alene has nearly doubled in population in the last two decades. Nearly 90 percent of its new arrivals are white, and although the percentage of nonwhite residents is gradually increasing, it’s still tiny at 5.5 percent.

Lesson
Diversity

"Politics of the New South"

In “Politics of the New South,” the fifth episode in the America by the Numbers series, Maria Hinojosa revisits Clarkston, Georgia, featured in a previous episode and notable for its immigrant population. It’s three days before an election in which three former refugees are running for city office for the very first time.

Lesson
Action|Diversity

"Pass or Fail in Cambodia Town"

In “Pass or Fail in Cambodia Town,” America by the Numbers host Maria Hinojosa visits Long Beach, California, where she finds a Southeast Asian community struggling with what one interviewee describes as a “trauma-informed history.” Far from the stereotype of Asians as a “model minority,” less than 65 percent of Cambodian adults in the United States have graduated from high school. Cambodia Town, a neighborhood in Long Beach, is a community plagued by poverty and gang violence.

Lesson
Diversity|Identity

Activate Activism: Creating Our Mural, Part Two

As students move forward with work on their activist murals, it will be important for them to think about managing their time and materials. It will also be important for them to remind themselves and each other of their messages and ultimate goals. Continuing work on an ongoing project can be challenging for some children, but it is an important part of developing an identity as someone who does good and important work. Make sure you show respect for the challenging aspects of this activity as your students move ahead with their mural.

Lesson
Action

Activate Activism: Creating Our Mural, Part One

Making art together is one of the most important ways students can engage in a collaborative process, and talk about the messages and methods they believe in. Art takes time and process. Once children have had a chance to look at different symbols and think about the importance of technique, colors, shapes, and styles, it is time with each other and their art materials that will really allow them to express themselves, finding their voices as artists and activists simultaneously.

Lesson
Action

Looking Closely at Ourselves

This lesson is the first in a series called “The Different Colors of Beauty.” The overall goal of these lessons is to help students develop their racial or ethnic identities in a safe and open classroom environment, while being conscious of our multicultural, diverse world.

Lesson
Identity

Lorraine Hansberry: LGBT Politics and Civil Rights

This lesson is part of The Role of Gay Men and Lesbians in the Civil Rights Movement series. This series introduces students to four lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of African descent, and their allies. All four—James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Pauli Murray, Bayard Rustin—were indispensable to the ideas, strategies and activities that made the civil rights movement a successful political and social revolution.

Lesson
Diversity
Grades 9 to 12

Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice: Legal Action: The Supreme Court

In this lesson, students analyze a photograph of Mildred Jeter Loving and Richard Loving—the interracial couple that took the case of their marriage all the way to the Supreme Court—as a springboard for exploring the case, and for thinking about analogous issues today. This lesson is part of the Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice series.

Lesson
Action

Maya Angelou

This lesson is the first in the “Beyond Rosa Parks: Powerful Voices for Civil Rights and Social Justice” series that introduces students to African-American civil rights activists who may be unfamiliar to them.

Lesson
Action|Identity

Unequal Unemployment

In this lesson, students will examine the growth of unemployment from 2007 through the second quarter of 2009. Using basic and/or advanced math, students will compare and contrast unemployment rates across different states and across three racial and ethnic groups. An extension activity looks at unemployment among Asian Americans and can be adapted for other populations.

Lesson
Justice

The Economics of Risk

In these activities, students will imagine themselves in the role of these women and weigh the risks and potential benefits of their actions. In the process, they will develop an understanding of undocumented workers that goes far deeper than the caricatures that are often part of the debate over policy.

Lesson
Immigration
Justice

The Little Rock Nine and the Children’s Movement

This lesson is part of The Little Rock Battle for School Integration series, which introduces students to the actors and events central to the 1957 Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis.

In this lesson, students will learn about the nine African-American students who integrated Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. They will also explore the price the Little Rock Nine paid as they created history, as well as the controversies surrounding Daisy Bates and her role in the movement. They will also develop an awareness of the important role the Little Rock Nine played in the civil rights movement and how they inspired the activism of other youth in the Black Freedom Struggle.

Lesson
Events
Justice
Grades 9 to 12

Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice

Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice is a series of 12 lessons. Each lesson focuses on a contemporary social justice issue. These lessons are multidisciplinary and geared toward middle- and high-school students.

Lesson
Justice

Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice: Exposing Gender Bias

In this lesson, students compare and contrast two photographs of women. In doing so, they evaluate how a photo creates a mood and how photos can encourage or challenge stereotypes. This activity is part of the Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice series.

Lesson
Action

School Integration 55 Years Later

This lesson is part of The Little Rock Battle for School Integration series, which introduces students to the actors and events central to the 1957 Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis.

In this lesson, students learn about the state of Central High School and integration in Little Rock 55 years after the crisis. In 1957, the conflict in Little Rock changed the nation, but in the process, the small, Southern city was also transformed. The events that made Little Rock famous exposed the city’s divided views on racial integration. Although these divisions persist, the battle lines are not as black and white as they were in the past. 

In this fourth lesson, students will read and analyze an article from The New York Times written in 2007 for the 50thanniversary of the integration of Central High School and read a more recent article from USA Today. They also will view and discuss a video about the successes and failures of Little Rock’s attempts to integrate its public schools. 

Lesson
Action
Grades 9 to 12

Will and Reason

Utilizing Shakespeare and theater to examine modern day violence.

Activity Exchange
Arts

What Makes a Family?

Students use the 2010 Census to explore family diversity and the different ways to define a family. They research about the experiences of Michael Oher, a professional football player for the Baltimore Ravens, who scrambled for survival without a family. To wrap up, students create a We Are Family mural to celebrate family diversity.

Lesson
Family
Diversity
Grades 3 to 5

Pre-Columbian Native Peoples and Technology

The purpose of this lesson is for students to grapple with three separate definitions: primitive, civilized (civilization), and technology.  Students examine or re-examine their own definitions of these words and how these words define what they understand about Pre-Columbian native culture. The objective is to help students determine their own point of view.

Lesson
Justice

The Motivation for Movement

In this lesson, students apply a geographer’s framework to the migration of women who leave Latin America and enter the United States without legal documentation. Students explore the motivation for movement among their peers and then compare their classmates’ experiences with those of some of the women profiled.

Lesson
Immigration
Diversity

Changing Demographics: What Can We Do to Promote Respect?

In this lesson, students consider actions we can take to promote respect and ensure equality for all people living in the United States.

Lesson
Immigration
Action
Grades 9 to 12

New Kids on the Block

Activity brings home the difficulties teen immigrants have fitting into a new culture.

Activity Exchange
Immigration
Justice
Grades 6 to 8

Freedom's Main Line

Learn how activists in Louisville, Kentucky successfully campaigned against segregated streetcars in 1870-71.

Lesson
Events
Justice

Juliette Hampton Morgan: Being a Cultural Anthropologist

Students learn the importance of being an ally through the story of Juliette Hampton Morgan, a white woman who lived in Montgomery, Alabama, during segregation.

Lesson
Diversity
Social Studies

Juliette Hampton Morgan: Becoming an Ally

Students learn the importance of being an ally through the story of Juliette Hampton Morgan, a white woman who lived in Montgomery, Alabama, during segregation.

Lesson
Action
Social Studies

Defenders of Justice

In this activity, students will summarize biographies of individuals who fought racism and helped make it possible for a black man to serve as President of the United States. Along they way, they'll discover that they, too, can take a stand for justice and equality and make the world a better place today.

Lesson
Justice
Grades 3 to 5
Social Studies

Progressive City Planners

In this middle school lesson, students will create their own imaginary cities, deciding where to place amenities such as parks and libraries, as well drawbacks such as environmental hazards. Then they will compare their cities to the real world – where resources and hazards often aren't distributed fairly.

Lesson
Rights
Justice

Interpreting Wealth Disparities

Classroom experiences that critically investigate the causes and meaning of poverty in our own nation offer students tools for change, and new ways to interpret the world around them.

Lesson
Justice

Latinos and the Fourteenth Amendment: A Primary Document Activity

In this lesson, students will work in pairs and use expert reading strategies to analyze the Court’s ruling in Hernandez v. Texas. After participating in a carousel discussion, students will write a three-minute paper describing how the United States would be different if the Court had reached an alternate conclusion.

Lesson
Justice

Who Has Hair?

Who Has Hair? explores one of the things mammals share in common: hair! Our hair may be different—Polar Bear's doesn't look exactly like Orangutan's or like yours— but we all have hair and want it to be clean and pretty.

Lesson
Diversity
Pre K to K

Racial Profiling

Racial profiling occurs when law enforcement agents impermissibly use race, religion, ethnicity or national origin in deciding who to investigate. This lesson focuses on racial profiling. Students learn what the term means, discuss why it matters, conduct research and present their insights.

Lesson
Justice

What Counts as History?

This lesson asks students to think about what counts as history. It is divided into two parts. Part 1 gets students thinking about what’s included in the history they study, and what’s missing. Part 1 can stand alone as a complete lesson. Part 2 extends the project. In it, they compare how a U.S. history book and an African-American history book address the same time period. They also reflect on how including new groups alters the study of history.

Lesson
Justice

Defusing School Violence

In this lesson, students imagine themselves attending a high school that is polarized by violence between U.S.-born students and foreign-born African immigrants. After learning about the situation, students use problem-solving skills to determine what they would do to deal with the violence if they attended that school. The lesson is adapted from an actual situation that took place at Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine.

Lesson
Action

Family Ties

About 4 million undocumented immigrant women live and work in the United States. They live in fear of job-site immigration raids and deportations, which result in personal and economic costs both here and back home. In this lesson, students will learn how current immigration policies are tied to those costs.

Lesson
Justice

Poverty and Unemployment: Exploring the Connections

This lesson is the second in a series of lessons called “Issues of Poverty.” Students explore the causes of poverty in the United States and the structural factors that perpetuate it. Students will examine the ways poverty is closely related to economic and political policy, and will work to discover why it disproportionately affects members of non-dominant groups—that is, groups that have historically oppressed groups.

Lesson
Justice