The best tolerance-related resources, from publishers large and small, recommended and reviewed by the Teaching Tolerance staff.
Editor’s note: This web package was originally published in December 2014, under the title "Teaching About Ferguson: Race and Racism in the United States.” Since we first shared this resource, the number of people of color killed by the police has risen and the number of resources that support teaching about these incidents has grown. This web package includes external resources and Teaching Tolerance resources that address institutional violence more broadly. We update this page periodically to reflect current events. If you have suggestions for additional resources, please forward them to email@example.com.
The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York City, Tamir Rice in Cleveland and too many others—along with the grand jury decisions in the earlier two cases—have caused waves of nationwide protest and appeals for stronger protections against police brutality. These events have also caused educators to seek resources on how to address these subjects in the classroom. These resources can help spur much-needed discussion around implicit bias and systemic racism, but they can also empower your students to enact the changes that will create a more just society.
Teaching Tolerance Blogs
- When Educators Understand Race and Racism. What is the fundamental outcome of educators growing their racial competence? Learning.
- Talking With Students About Ferguson and Racism. This teacher believes it’s crucial for white teachers like her to seek out productive ways to talk about race and racism with students.
- Students Are Watching Ferguson. At a time like this, educators can’t afford not to discuss Ferguson in the classroom.
- #dontshoot. The tragic loss of Michael Brown presents an opportunity to help students connect with our collective humanity.
- On This Day. As an organization committed to justice and equity, the similarities between the Watts Riots and the riots in Ferguson, Missouri following Michael Brown’s death compel us to point out that we do not live in a post-racial world.
- What We're Reading This Week: November 26. A special edition of What We're Reading This Week featuring stories related to recent events in Ferguson.
- The Revolution Will Be Tweeted. This middle school teacher empowered his students to lift their voices in discussions about Ferguson and Eric Garner—by assigning them to tweet.
- After the Flag Comes Down. There was growing momentum to take down Confederate flags after nine people were murdered at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, but our work to denounce systemic racism cannot stop at symbolic markers.
- Here We Go Again. It’s one thing to wake up to a tragic shooting one day, but three days straight is mind-boggling. When will enough be enough?
- Living With the Bear. Constant exposure to violence via social media is harming our students. Learn to recognize the signs to give them the support they need.
Resources From Teaching The New Jim Crow
- Preparing to Teach The New Jim Crow. Strategies and methods that can prepare teachers to support students during conversations about race, racism and other forms of oppression.
- Lesson 1: Talking About Race and Racism. This lesson helps students learn to participate in open and honest conversations about race and racism.
- Lesson 7: Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System. How does mass incarceration function as a mechanism of radicalized social control in the United States today? What is “the age of colorblindness” and how does it attempt to mask racial caste?
- Lesson 8: Understanding the Prison Label. What is the long-term harm and wider impact of mass incarceration on people and communities of color?
- Lesson 10: Dismantling Racial Caste. What is needed to end mass incarceration and permanently eliminate racial caste in the United States?
Other TT Resources
- On Racism and White Privilege. This article, one of our professional development resources, explores issues of race and white privilege.
- Test Yourself for Hidden Bias. This page defines the terms stereotype, prejudice and discrimination; includes a link to Project Implicit's Hidden Bias Tests; and provides suggestions for ensuring that implicit biases don't manifest in biased actions.
- Straight Talk About the N-Word. This article documents Teaching Tolerance's interview with Arizona State University Professor Neal A. Lester. Lester teaches courses and offers seminars on the n-word all over the country—and finds there’s plenty to talk about.
- The Gentle Catalyst. Afraid to teach about privilege? Three teachers show how it’s done.
- Ferguson, U.S.A. This feature story explains why hardships faced by communities in crisis are national issues worth teaching.
- Let's Talk! Discussing Race, Racism and Other Difficult Topics With Students. Talking with students about race and privilege is hard but necessary. Our new resource and webinar can help you find the words.
- Why Talk About Whiteness? This magazine feature story explores why we can’t talk about racism without understanding the social construction of whiteness.
- PD Café: Responding to Trauma in Your Classroom. This collection of suggestions and resources can help educators identify how to respond when trauma touches their classrooms—either directly or indirectly.
- Don’t Say Nothing. Educators’ silence speaks volumes during moments of racial tension or violence. Our students are listening.
- Let’s Talk! Discussing Black Lives Matter With Students.This on-demand webinar addresses the roots of Black Lives Matter, its platform and its connections to past social justice movements. It also offers tools for teaching about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Related External Resources
- Teaching #BlackLivesMatter. This collection of resources from Teaching for Change offers a history of police brutality, commentary on the militarization of law enforcement, and multiple other thematic explorations of the ways in which institutional racism harms African Americans.
- Teaching About Police Brutality in the Classroom. An article from EmpathyEducates that captures how the author and their teaching partner helped students transition "from pain to poetry" in the wake of a local police shooting.
- Preparing to Discuss Michael Brown in the Classroom. Developed by District of Columbia Public Schools, this document includes suggestions for how to frame painful conversations, resources for educators who wish to build their background knowledge and a protocol for engaging students. Although the material references Ferguson, it is relevant to all teaching about racial profiling or police violence.
- Talking and Teaching About Police Violence. A post from the blog Prison Culture that includes activities to help assist educators in their conversations with students about the role of the police in society.
- How to Teach Kids About What’s Happening in Ferguson. Published by The Atlantic, this is a crowdsourced list of readings and resources that support teaching about race, white privilege and incidents of police brutality, as well as civil rights history and other related topics. Although the material references Ferguson, it is relevant to all teaching about racial profiling or police violence.
- #FergusonSyllabus. A collection of crowdsourced resources for teaching about race, racism and police brutality, submitted via Twitter and captured using Storify. Although the material references Ferguson, it is relevant to all teaching about racial profiling or police violence.
- Michael Brown. From Facing History and Ourselves, this blog post offers concrete suggestions for bringing the topic of unjust and violent death into the classroom in a way that helps students understand more deeply the role race plays in our society. Although the material references Ferguson, it is relevant to all incidents involving racial profiling or police violence.
- The Counted. Maintained by The Guardian, this is a database of people killed by the police in the United States.
- #CharlestonSyllabus. Compiled by the African American Intellectual Honor Society, this list of readings is designed to help educators discuss the June 2015 massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
- On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart. From the Pew Research Center, this article summarizes research about how white and black Americans view issues of racial inequity, including perceptions related to the police.
- Happening Yesterday, Happened Tomorrow. In this article from Rethinking Schools, a teacher recounts how she helped her students process a series of brutal police-related deaths while also studying the historic connection between poetry and injustice.
- Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism. From writer and educator Jon Greenberg, this collection of activities, readings and images offers try-tomorrow approaches for white educators and students.
Updated editions of two books, "Teacher, they called me a ---!" ($12.50) and The Prejudice Book ($18), contain new activities that teachers can use to help young people recognize, understand and confront many types of prejudice and discrimination. "Teacher, they called me a ---!" has 86 activities for elementary grades, and The Prejudice Book contains 36 exercises for middle school students. Both are available from:
Thank you for your interest in the Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program poster set. Due to high demand, all 3,000 posters have already been ordered. We encourage you to visit the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition website where you can download all six posters for free.
The Ellis Island Collection ($24.95) is a "museum in a box" containing 23 reproductions of genuine artifacts found at Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924. History teachers will revel in these primary documents, handing them out so students of all ages can become true historians. An accompanying pamphlet explains each artifact. Resources include "How to Research Ellis Island Immigrants," Ellis Island Foundation, The American Immigrant Wall of Honor and The American Family Immigration History Center. Everything is here to engage students on the topic of immigration.
We know the myth of the first Thanksgiving, as invented by the English settlers who had decided that it was "lawful … to take a land which none useth, and make use of it." But what account might be offered by the people who were using that land? 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving ($17.95) retells the story of the first harvest celebration shared by English settlers and Wampanoag representatives, drawing on new documents, cultural artifacts and stories told by the Wampanoag.
The application deadline for the 2016 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching has passed.
"This award has allowed Teaching Tolerance—and educators across the nation—to meet some inspiring and amazing teachers. They show how anti-bias work is done, with excellence and passion. Each one is the kind of teacher parents want for their children.” - Maureen Costello, Teaching Tolerance director
TT Awardee Spotlight
Learn how the TT Award helped Amber Strong Makaiau, a 2011 recipient, realize her power to make positive social change.
And The Winners Are...
Meet the recipients of the 2014 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Meet the recipients of the 2012 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Meet the recipients of the 2011 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Read blogs from the 2014 TT Awardees
Today’s educators must do more than simply teach the “three R’s”; they must prepare students to live in an increasingly diverse society. Excellent anti-bias educators do this by teaching the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in diverse settings, achieve academically and work collaboratively. The 2016 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching will recognize five educators who teach these competencies at a mastery level, use research and innovation to drive and evolve their practice, and support prejudice reduction, intergroup relations and equity through their leadership outside the classroom.
Teaching Tolerance will select award winners based on applicants’ demonstrated skills in all three areas, as well as their ability to tie their practices to research. Over the course of the award’s two-year tenure, awardees will showcase their teaching practices and contribute to TT programming. Each awardee will receive a $2,500 cash award and travel to Montgomery, Alabama, for an award celebration during July 2016.
The application deadline for the 2016 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching has passed.
Watch TT Award Winners in Action
"Students are entitled to a voice" is the message of 360° Magazine, a free publication written for and by high school students. Printed three times a year, the journal accepts student submissions from across the U.S. Articles and interviews examine critical social and political issues from a student perspective.
4 Kids in 5E & 1 Crazy Year ($16.95), by Virginia Schwartz, is about Giovannie, Destiny, Willie and Maximo. These four students at an inner city school go through big changes, and their teacher, it seems, is determined to get them to write. The story is told in the students' four voices. (Grades 7-9)
5 Girls ($89), part of the "Girls Project" from the film collective Women Make Movies, is a documentary about five Chicago teenagers and the joys and perils they face on the cusp of adulthood. Interviews with parents lend a valuable perspective to the girls’ struggles to cope with serious concerns — from sexual experimentation to poverty — and stay optimistic in the process.
9/11: Looking Back, Moving Forward ($9) is a compilation of 16 lesson plans designed to help students be resilient in times of crisis. Various lesson plans for pre-kindergarten through grade 12 were written with collaboration from agencies such as the Anti-Defamation League, Reading Rainbow, The American Red Cross and Educators for Social Responsibility.
In A Band of Angels ($16), Aunt Beth tells her niece about Great-great-grandmother Ella, one of the original Fisk University Jubilee Singers. The determined Ella Sheppard Moore left home after the Civil War with $6 to attend a new school for freed slaves. This moving story captures the struggles and triumphs the school chorus faced on their historic concert tours that introduced spirituals to the world.
Students can learn how lending works through a fictional story set in Bangladesh, A Basket of Bangles: How a Business Begins ($21.90). A group of poor village women pursue individual "micro-businesses," using funds borrowed from an institution like the real Grameen Bank, which is based on the principal that credit should be a fundamental human right. The story and additional information and resources offered at the beginning and end of the book address math concepts, basic economics and a snapshot of life in Bangladesh.
A Boy From Ireland ($19.95), by Marie Raphael, is an immigrant story set in 1901. It delivers Irish history (the Great Famine, English rule and the republican movement) and a portrait of Irish immigrant life in New York. Liam, a 14-year-old boy, must face a bully and stand up for himself in the face of prejudice.
Your limited English proficiency student has a right to a quality education under both state and federal laws. Without this education, a child can fall behind in classes, fail a grade and even drop out of school.
This guide can help you navigate these laws and ensure your child gets the quality education he or she deserves.
A Cafecito Story/ El cuento del cafecito ($10) is set in the Dominican Republic and is about reclaiming a small coffee farm with traditional growth methods. An inspiring story on how to act and create a more sustainable future.
The concept of "sweat equity" promoted by Habitat for Humanity and similar programs has helped thousands of families and volunteers invest in the dream of better housing for all. In A Castle on Viola Street ($16.95), a family of five helps others build houses and, in return, gain the opportunity to move from a cramped apartment into a home of their own.
By explaining what paralysis is and how it occurs, and by profiling five successful disabled people, the video A Change in Perspective refutes stereotypes and challenges able-bodied individuals to re-examine their attitudes toward the disabled. (Length: 30 min. Purchase: $39.95)
A Child's Celebration of the World (CD: $15.98; cassette: $9.98) offers a unique array of favorite songs from around the globe. A part of the Child's Celebration series, this CD includes the melodious tones of Freyda Epstein, Taj Mahal, Joan Baez, The Irish Rovers and nine other artists or groups.
In a controversial column in the Washington Post, Lonnae O’Neal Parker, a journalist, challenged her biracial cousin to claim a Black identity, even though one of her parents is White. The Nightline production A Conversation on Race: Black, White or Other? ($89.95) uses that column as a springboard, offering a great opening for honest dialogue in the high school classroom.
When Francisco tells a lie to get a job, he finds more work than he bargains for. The book A Day's Work ($14.95) contains admirable lessons on honesty and respect and is illustrated with quiet watercolors that provide a glimpse into the world of Latino day laborers.
Birth Sex/Biological Sex
A specific set of genetic, chemical and anatomical characteristics that we are either born with or that develop as we mature. Types of birth/biological sex include female, male and intersex.
One's internal, personal sense of his or her own gender. Many people believe in a more fluid gender identity than simply “male” and “female.”
The external manifestation of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics.
The nature of an individual's physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Trans and gender-variant people may identify with any sexual orientation, and their sexual orientation may or may not change before, during or after gender transition.
An umbrella term that describes people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. This group includes, but is not limited to, transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.
The Full Spectrum
The sex/gender one is considered to be at birth based on a cursory examination of external genitalia.
In its broadest sense, asexual describes individuals who are not sexually attracted to others or are not interested in sex. Those who identify as asexual may still be romantically attracted to others.
Describes individuals who identify as having both a “male” and “female” side to their personalities.
Describes a person who is attracted to both men and women. Because bisexual assumes a binary, male/female paradigm, many individuals now use the term pansexual.
or In the Closet
Hiding one’s sexual orientation.
The process by which lesbians, gay men and bisexual people recognize, acknowledge, accept and typically appreciate their sexual identities.
Describes a person whose emotional, romantic and sexual attractions are primarily for individuals of the same sex, typically in reference to men and boys, sometimes used as a general term for gay men and lesbians.
An acronym, which stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender.” Other versions may add “Q” for Queer or Questioning, “I” for Intersex and “A” for Allied. Some may prefer to list the acronym as TBLG to place transpeople in a position of importance and to rectify the way trans has historically been omitted, devalued or excluded.
Describes individuals who possess identities that fall outside of the widely accepted sexual binary.
Clothing, characteristics, traits and behaviors culturally associated with masculinity and/or femininity.
A term that describes individuals who stray from socially accepted gender roles.
The societal/cultural, institutional and individual beliefs and practices that privilege heterosexuals and subordinate and denigrate lesbians, gay men and bisexual/pansexual people. The critical element that differentiates heterosexism (or any other “ism”) from prejudice and discrimination is the use of institutional power and authority to support prejudices and enforce discriminatory behaviors in systematic ways with far-reaching outcomes and effects.
Heterosexual people who confront heterosexism in themselves and others out of self-interest, a concern for the well-being of lesbians, gay men and bisexual/pansexual people, and a belief that heterosexism is a social injustice.
The benefits and advantages that heterosexuals receive in a heterosexist culture. Also, the benefits that lesbians, gay men, and bisexual/pansexual people receive as a result of claiming a heterosexual identity and denying a lesbian, gay, or bisexual/pansexual identity.
Literally, the fear of homosexuals and homosexuality; however, this term is generally applied to anyone who dislikes LGBTIQ people, who uses derogatory sexuality- or gender-based terms, or who feels that LGBTIQ people want “special rights” and not “equal rights.” Homophobic behavior can range from telling jokes about lesbians and gay men to verbal abuse and even acts of physical violence.
Intersex people are born with physical sex markers (genitals, hormones, gonads or chromosomes) that are neither clearly male nor female.
A woman or girl whose emotional, romantic and sexual attractions are primarily for other women or girls.
or Out of the Closet
To be openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer or intersex.
When someone discloses information about another’s sexual orientation or gender identity without that person’s knowledge and/or consent.
Queer is a term that has been reclaimed by members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities to describe people who transgress culturally imposed norms of heterosexuality and gender traditionalism. Although still often an abusive epithet when used by bigoted heterosexuals, many queer-identified people have taken back the word to use it as a symbol of pride and affirmation of difference and diversity.
Reassignment Surgery (SRS)
A procedure that physically transforms the genitals using plastic surgery. SRS is a single surgical alteration and is only one small part of transition. Not all transgender people choose to, or can afford to, have SRS. While this procedure is often referred to as a sex change operation in popular culture, SRS is the preferred term.
The societal/cultural, institutional and individual beliefs and practices that privilege men and subordinate and denigrate women.
Slang term for heterosexual.
An umbrella term that describes people who permanently or periodically dis-identify with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Describes organizations or institutions that are open, affirming and accepting of transpeople and their social, political and cultural needs.
The period of time in which a person begins to live in a gender role that is in accordance with his or her internal gender identity. Transition is not a one-step procedure; it is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time. Transition may include some or all of the following cultural, legal and medical adjustments: informing one's family, friends and/or co-workers; changing one's name and/or sex on legal documents; undergoing hormone therapy; and/or seeking surgical alteration (see Sex Reassignment Surgery).
The irrational fear and hatred of all those individuals who do not conform to dominant gender categories.
A Good Night for Freedom ($16.95) is the story of a young girl named Hallie who finds out her neighbors are a stopping place for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. Should Hallie turn them in or help them?
A History of the Romani People ($19.95), by Hristo Kyuchukov, enlightens readers to the past and present lives of the Romani people. Readers learn Romani traditions, culture and language. The book contains wonderful photographs and maps.
The alphabet book A Is for Asia ($15.95) introduces different Asian countries, foods, animals and cultural traditions to young children. Whimsical pencil and oil illustrations, a selection of Asian language symbols, and detailed descriptions of the objects chosen for each letter represent Asia's rich diversity -- from dragon boats on the River Yu in China to sled races on rivers of ice in Siberia.
A Journey of Hope: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Unconditional Love ($22.95) tells the story of Camp Heartland, a community of support for young people affected by HIV. Through their photographs, art and words, students will learn about others like themselves living with HIV.
A Kid's Guide to African American History ($14.95), by Nancy I. Sanders, contains more than 70 activities to foster cultural awareness among children of all races. The hands-on activities teach students about the people, experiences and events that shaped African American history.
Perhaps the most far-reaching and debated addendum in U.S. history, the Bill of Rights charts the basic framework of civil liberties. Each amendment to the Constitution, and how it affects individuals, comes alive in the informative and humorous A Kid's Guide to America's Bill of Rights ($15.95).
An excellent primary source, Ronald Takaki's latest book, A Larger Memory: A History of Our Diversity, With Voices ($15), is a compilation of letters, diary excerpts and oral histories. Average Americans from various backgrounds from the 18th century to today share their lives and illuminate America's diverse historical past.
In A Lesson My Cat Taught Me, by Saul Weber, a young girl named Jennifer finds a friendly cat to bring home even though her family already has a cat (named Mr. Tickles). They learn that even though the new cat has only one eye, he can do some things Mr. Tickles can’t do. Jennifer learns a valuable lesson about disabilities.
A Little Peace ($16.95), by Barbara Kerley, shows children that seeds of peace are all over the world and can be found in a soccer game in Iraq, in children holding hands in New Mexico, in dancing monks in Bhutan and in old friends laughing in Afghanistan.