I Have a Dream: Teaching Unity for Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month

I Have a Dream: Teaching Unity for Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month


Over five decades ago, the inspiring Martin Luther King, Jr., summed up our purpose as teachers.
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” 

While the politics of our public school system may challenge this sentiment daily, we as teachers know the true motivation beyond our dedication. We hope to leave each student better than before they crossed the threshold of our classroom.  Our goal is to foster intelligence plus character in our young students.

Each year as our country celebrates Martin Luther King Day in January and then continues the conversation with Black History Month in February, we often wish to incorporate the history behind the celebrations into our lesson plans. Though I encourage you to include this in your lessons every day (as well as teaching about other cultures and contributors to history), I think this time can be very instrumental in driving the conversation in our classrooms toward a message of love and unity. 

While working to advance civil rights in the late 1950s and 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out about using a nonviolent approach and civil disobedience to disrupt the system that was failing people of color. Surrounded by hatred and violence, MLK chose a message of love instead.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
As modern day teachers, we often get bogged down by the sheer volume of curriculum that should be covered in the course of a school year. Drowning in lesson plans, we may stray from the idea that our lessons should be laced with more than content; we should be teaching love, unity, and compassion to tomorrow's leaders. 
Each year as our country celebrates Martin Luther King Day in January and then continues the conversation with Black History Month in February, we often wish to incorporate the history behind the celebrations into our lesson plans. Though I encourage you to include this in your lessons every day (as well as teaching about other cultures and contributors to history), I think this time can be very instrumental in driving the conversation in our classrooms toward a message of love and unity. #mlk #martinlutherking #blackhistory #love #unity #united #socialstudies
In fact, even the name of the discipline, Social Studies, lends to teaching beyond the history book. Social Studies teachers have an obligation to teach the interactions and characteristics of the human race. By glossing over this important holiday (and upcoming Black History Month) by sticking to the history, we may be doing a great disservice to our classrooms of tiny humans. 

You can empower your students by helping them to find commonalities and similarities by providing a united classroom community and a safe space to embrace differences. 
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
There are so many great lesson plans and activities to incorporate in your lesson planning for January and February, and beyond. Try some of the following activities to celebrate Martin Luther King Day or the upcoming Black History Month.  

Martin Luther King Walking Tour
Try this non-traditional activity to get students moving and thinking. Engage students in a real-life scavenger hunt to collect clues about Martin Luther King, Jr., his life, and his contributions. 

Digital 1:1 Martin Luther King Activity
Looking for something more 1:1? This activity allows students to work independently to uncover important facts about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work.

Quick Quotes Activity
This one-day activity explores Martin Luther King, Jr.'s own spoken words, analyzing his different political causes with quotes on varying topics.

"I Have a Dream" Speech Primary Source Analysis
Want to explore MLK from a literary perspective? This primary source analysis breaks down Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

Significant Contributions of African Americans
Continue your teaching into Black History Month with this centers activity, meant to discuss significant contributions of African Americans.

FREE! Significant African Americans Quote Analysis
Dive deeper into the contributions of significant African Americans by analyzing quotes in this free activity!

No matter which activities you choose to incorporate in your upcoming lessons, remember the important reason for teaching these sensitive lessons. Remind yourself, as well as your students, that even the smallest step toward progress is indeed progress.
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
By teaching these difficult lessons to the impressionable young minds in your classroom, you may make a bigger impact than is conceivable. Continue to build a strong classroom community of open-minded, compassionate humans, and you will be successful in teaching. #teaching #socialstudies #students #history
By teaching these difficult lessons to the impressionable young minds in your classroom, you may make a bigger impact than is conceivable. Continue to build a strong classroom community of open-minded, compassionate humans, and you will be successful in teaching.

Happy Teaching!






Read more »
Brittany Cloyd
0 Comments
Drawing Games in the Classroom: Themed Variations on the Urban Game

Drawing Games in the Classroom: Themed Variations on the Urban Game


You've likely heard of the Urban Game that is spreading like wildfire. An interesting exercise for secondary Social Studies classes, the teacher rapidly instructs students to modify a big paper drawing of an urban city. At the end of the exercise, students can make comparisons and draw parallels to the challenges faced by urbanization of their city.
You've likely heard of the Urban Game that is spreading like wildfire. An interesting exercise for secondary Social Studies classes, the teacher rapidly instructs students to modify a big paper drawing of an urban city. At the end of the exercise, students can make comparisons and draw parallels to the challenges faced by urbanization of their city. #urbangame #socialstudies #lessonplanning #bigpaperactivity

The Urban Game is great in the classroom because it allows students to step outside the box and tap into their right brains for artistic skills and inspired creativity. Students have to turn on their listening ears, block out distractions, and work collaboratively to accomplish the assignment. In my previous post, Teamwork and Collaboration in the Classroom: An Exercise to Assess Direction Following, I introduced the American Revolution Drawing Game, a spin-off of the Urban Game meant to walk students through the booming revolution, one advancement (or setback) at a time.

But this drawing game has value outside your unit on the American Revolution, too. There are so many ways to modify the Drawing Game to study different time periods, units, and regional differences.

You can introduce your unit on Westward Expansion with the Westward Expansion Drawing Game. Covering the Transcontinental Railroad, immigration, Chinese Railroad Workers, the California Gold Rush, the Pony Express, the Oregon Trail, the Louisiana Purchase, and more, this Drawing Game can introduce students to the Expansion of America in a fun and engaging way.

Students can also dive into the American Civil War Drawing Game, where they'll discover Slavery in the US, the Abolition Movement, the Missouri Compromise, Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad, Fort Sumter, the Battles of Big Run and Gettysburg, the Emancipation Proclamation, and more.

The Immigration into America: 1850 to 1910 Drawing Game covers the Gilded Age through the lenses of immigration, urbanization, overcrowding, factories and employment, Ellis Island, population differences, and more.
If you choose to do the Drawing Games in small groups, students can also benefit greatly as they develop their communication and collaboration skills, fostering a solid classroom community. #groupwork #collaboration #teamwork
Each Drawing Game activity includes the teacher script, a sample image of a completed map, debriefing notes, and suggested follow-up questions and activities. By participating, students practice listening skills, mapping, designing a key, following directions, time-lining, critical thinking, and inquiry. If you choose to do the Drawing Games in small groups, students can also benefit greatly as they develop their communication and collaboration skills, fostering a solid classroom community.

Drawing Games not only inspire your students and force them to look at the topic through a different lens, but they're also fun and engaging! #lessonplanning #unitplanning #funforteachers #funlessons #funactivitiesDrawing Games not only inspire your students and force them to look at the topic through a different lens, but they're also fun and engaging! Since they're so abstract, students may enjoy participating in the downtime before a break, or in a low-stress activity right after an extended holiday! These activities are great as introductions to a unit, or as reflection activities after you've already delved into study.

More Drawing Games are coming soon. What topic or theme would you like to see in a future Drawing Game?

Happy Teaching DRAWING!


Read more »
Michele Luck
0 Comments
Teamwork and Collaboration in the Classroom: An Exercise to Assess Direction Following

Teamwork and Collaboration in the Classroom: An Exercise to Assess Direction Following


How do you feel when a hundred different directions are thrown your way? Maybe your principal comes into your classroom after a stressful class period, listing off five things to-do within the next week? Or a student asks questions about an upcoming assignment, in rapid-fire succession? Or even in your personal life, a significant other lists off the grocery list quickly and without repetition, leaving you scrambling to capture the necessities on a scrap piece of paper?
Our brains are hard-wired for processing, and our students spend much time in elementary, middle, and high school developing and improving upon these processing skills. However, we often enjoy the luxury of slowing things down, repeating them, rereading them, or asking for clarification. If this luxury is taken away, our brains overload and our sympathetic nervous system switches on. We are no longer processing information thoroughly and effectively; we're simply cataloging and sorting as quickly as our brains are able, often missing key information. #processing #lessonplanning #processingskills #learningstyles #repetition

Our brains are hard-wired for processing, and our students spend much time in elementary, middle, and high school developing and improving upon these processing skills. However, we often enjoy the luxury of slowing things down, repeating them, rereading them, or asking for clarification. If this luxury is taken away, our brains overload and our sympathetic nervous system switches on. We are no longer processing information thoroughly and effectively; we're simply cataloging and sorting as quickly as our brains are able, often missing key information.

Now imagine if you put your significant other on speaker phone while he or she rattles off the grocery list. Your children each have a pen in hand, a notebook at the ready. Your youngest turns on a cell phone recording so you can double check their finished list. They capture the list without missing a single item, and one even doodles you a silly picture to enjoy while standing in the checkout line. Your sympathetic nervous system thanks you and goes back to sleep, having woken with a start when the phone rang. You may even feel a warm and fuzzy feeling that often escapes you - sometimes, we call that relaxed!

Your students function quite the same way. Throw a ton of information at them, and they'll shut down, experiencing an automatic overload of their brains! They probably won't retain or understand any of it. But, if you break things down into simpler terms, give explicit directions, and provide clarification, they're much more likely to absorb the information at hand.

Sometimes, though, it may be important to kick their sympathetic nervous systems into high gear because you're teaching them a hard-learned lesson.

A true Social Studies lesson is one that leaves an impact beyond that of a textbook quiz or multiple-choice standardized test. Impactful Social Studies lessons transport one's mind, but also one's heart. By enticing a fight or flight reaction from your students, they're likely to feel the impact of the lesson. #socialstudies #lessonplan #socialstudieslesson #teachingsocialstudies
For instance, imagine the year is 1760 and we are in the American colony of Massachusetts. The scene begins in the harbor city of Boston.

Immediately, your mind probably transports you elsewhere, and you hone in on your new location and era. However, you not only want your students to learn about a moment in history, but you want them to experience it. A true Social Studies lesson is one that leaves an impact beyond that of a textbook quiz or multiple-choice standardized test. Impactful Social Studies lessons transport one's mind, but also one's heart. By enticing a fight or flight reaction from your students, they're likely to feel the impact of the lesson.

Since this heightened sense of arousal clashes with the need to capture details and mass information, students may feel conflicted and check out. By employing the teamwork and collaboration of their classmates, just like the pencil-armed offspring in the earlier example, your students can work together to relieve the stress of the situation, adequately capturing the information at hand while still feeling the "stress" of the situation in which you've input them.

Now, it should be said that we don't want to intentionally stress our students out - at least, not regularly and not without a purpose. But, when teaching students about important historical events that have an emotional impact, a little fuel on the fire may inspire students to relate to the events on a deeper level. Also, they may understand the chaos or disorder felt by those who experienced the events firsthand. Bringing this aspect of stress into the classroom helps students to feel the dire situational stressors felt by those in wartime, in oppressed cultures, in less than desirable circumstances, in a way that they otherwise may overlook.

You can take your students to that harbor city in 1760 as well, walking them through the American Revolution with little direction. Forcing them to face the chaos and disorder of the economic developments, passed legislature, and even deaths during this brutal time. By instructing your students to work together in small groups of two or three, they can work on this big paper exercise with a small dose of that cortisol increase but also the collaboration of their classmates, testing their teamwork skills and how well they follow directions all at once. Students will understand, after the fact, why the lesson was presented in such a rushed manner. And hopefully, they'll take away a bit of that empathy within the lesson.

Try the American Revolution Drawing Game in your classroom for a multi-faceted lesson plan on the history of the American Revolution, teamwork and collaboration skills, and direction-following. #newteachers #teaching #teachinghistory #teachingamericanrevolution #americanrevolution
Try the American Revolution Drawing Game in your classroom for a multi-faceted lesson plan on the history of the American Revolution, teamwork and collaboration skills, and direction-following. You give rapid-fire verbal descriptors to your class, instructing them to capture the city of Boston on a freehand map, like the one pictured above - with no repeats or clarification! See how well they work together to test their listening and processing skills.

Happy Teaching!


Read more »
Brittany Cloyd
0 Comments
How to Use Sticky Notes for Assessment

How to Use Sticky Notes for Assessment


Using sticky notes for assessment in the classroom may seem overly simple, but even first year secondary teachers are likely running out of fresh and exciting ideas for lesson planning. Instead of overthinking the next lesson or wracking your brain for new ideas, go back to the basics with sticky notes!
Using sticky notes for assessment in the classroom may seem overly simple, but even first year secondary teachers are likely running out of fresh and exciting ideas for lesson planning. Instead of overthinking the next lesson or wracking your brain for new ideas, go back to the basics with sticky notes! #stickynotes #interactivelessons #lessonplanning #visualteaching

Sticky notes are the perfect lesson companion for middle school and high school classes because they're inexpensive, you probably have a ton of them already lying around, and they are extremely versatile! Though it may seem like your options are limited with sticky notes, they really are limitless when it comes to "sticking" them into your lesson plans.

COLOR WARS. As sticky notes come in many different sizes and colors, they're innately ideal for comparing and contrasting, categorizing, or differentiating. You can use sticky notes of the same color or size to highlight similarities or group things by likeness. You can use differently-colored sticky notes to bring attention to differences or separate unlike items. By using them for the most basic of tasks, sticky notes can make the repetitive process of searching for comparative qualities easy and fun. Students could even compile their sticky notes onto a large big paper Venn Diagram or other group response display.

BIG IDEAS, SMALL SPACE. You can also use sticky notes to make a large, daunting assignment seem quick and easy, lessening anxiety among your students. Assigning an opinion writing prompt or response group activity may illicit groans from your class, but reinforcing that students focus on the important ideas by limiting their response to the small three-by-three square may ease the stress.

STICK TO EXIT. Instead of having students log their exit slip in their overflowing Interactive Notebooks, offer them reprieve from the three-ring binder by passing out sticky notes for exit slips. Students can stick their responses to the white board on the way out.

ANONYMOUS NOTES. Students could orchestrate a debate by anonymously picking a side and then writing out their evidence, support, or opinion. Have students draw someone else's sticky note from a jar or hat to present an anonymous opinion to the class as part of a structured debate or lighthearted discussion group.

MATCHING GAME. Use sticky notes to match data points, such as populations of countries. Label large paper with country names and fill out that county's statistics on each sticky note (i.e. sticky notes would hold population, primary language, life expectancy, etc.). For even more depth, have students use one color for all similar statistics (i.e. all population data is on a pink sticky note) so that when they compare countries against each other, they can easily compare related data. Alternatively, put all statistics from one region on one color of sticky notes and then have students identify which country matches their results!

MAP PINS. Instead of the traditional pushpin-on-map dynamic, switch it up with sticky notes! Have students label a post-it note with a country, region, state, etc., and stick it to the correct area on a large classroom map. Collectively, they can label a whole continent or region with everyone's sticky notes. Use this activity with the complete Geography Introduction Unit which details the five themes of geography!

BAR GRAPH REPRESENTATION. While recording classroom data for comparison in a government or economics class, have students stack their sticky notes up the wall or board to form a bar graph, ensuring that your graph will show an accurate representation since each student's sticky note is the same size. Use different color sticky notes to add additional dynamics to your data collection. For example, in a blended class, Freshman can use one color to record their favorite subject, and Sophomores can use a different color. Then, draw conclusions about each based on the data trajectory.

SHORT STUDY GUIDE. Allow your students a small reprieve from the stress of your next exam by giving them one sticky note for a cheat sheet. Better than an open book test, students will still have to study the information to find the most important bits to record on their small slip of paper.

TASK CARDS. Have students use sticky notes to flag important information on Gallery Walks like this Roaring 20s Walking Tour, where information is distributed around the room. Or, allow them to collect important information on sticky notes to organize their thoughts as they visit each walking tour stop.

Bonus Teacher Tip!
DISCOURAGE CHEATING. This one is more of a teacher tip than a specific exercise in itself, but if you find your classroom full of wandering eyes, read quiz questions aloud and have students record their multiple choice answers on a sticky note. With only a sticky note on their empty desk, you will be able to quickly scout out anyone who is using extra resources to answer the questions!


Ditch the complicated lessons for your next unit and replace your difficult plans with easy sticky note activities! Or, use sticky notes to replace a daily activity that you can utilize throughout the year (like the exit slip idea). Either way, let your middle school and high school students use this commonly-overlooked office supply to amplify their lessons and inspire their creativity and curiosity! #teaching #lessonplanning #lessonideas #outsidetheboxteaching
Ditch the complicated lessons for your next unit and replace your difficult plans with easy sticky note activities! Or, use sticky notes to replace a daily activity that you can utilize throughout the year (like the exit slip idea). Either way, let your middle school and high school students use this commonly-overlooked office supply to amplify their lessons and inspire their creativity and curiosity!

Happy Teaching,

Read more »
Michele Luck
0 Comments
9 Must-Read Books to Accompany Your Holocaust Unit

9 Must-Read Books to Accompany Your Holocaust Unit


As with teaching all sensitive or controversial Social Studies topics, you may feel less than comfortable teaching about the Holocaust. However, teaching about World War II and the Holocaust with confidence and professionalism is critical to ensuring that your students take the topic seriously and understand the importance of the lessons they are learning. Even though you are a Social Studies teacher, perhaps even a seasoned secondary teacher with many years of experience and education, you may feel less than equipped to handle the delicacies of the Holocaust.

As with teaching all sensitive or controversial Social Studies topics, you may feel less than comfortable teaching about the Holocaust. However, teaching about World War II and the Holocaust with confidence and professionalism is critical to ensuring that your students take the topic seriously and understand the importance of the lessons they are learning. Even though you are a Social Studies teacher, perhaps even a seasoned secondary teacher with many years of experience and education, you may feel less than equipped to handle the delicacies of the Holocaust. #Holocaust #teachingtheHolocaust #WorldHistory #WorldHistoryTeachers


Put frankly, this dark time period in our world’s history was a time of conviction of strongly-held beliefs, a time period which left many human beings fighting for the right to live. Many lives were lost due to these convictions. You may wonder what makes you an appropriate authority to speak on such grave historical topics.

Often, when we feel poorly equipped to teach a certain lesson, especially one with this strong of a worldwide impact, we may feel that we are not the right spokesperson to broadcast the much-needed message at hand. In many cases, we may be right! As Social Studies teachers, and secondary teachers in general, we may be the proverbial mouthpiece - the amplifying microphone - to disseminate historical information, but we may not be able to speak from our personal experiences, from a persecuted person’s perspective. Using books authored by those who did face certain atrocities firsthand may feel more sincere, genuine, and accurate.

In my secondary classroom, I used books of all reading levels to accompany my World History and US History lessons. My middle school and high school students deeply enjoyed folding to a comfortable cross-legged position on a carpet square, transfixed by the bright colors and impeccable rhymes of Dr. Seuss. They also fixed their attention on the words of literary texts beyond their reading level, scrutinizing with the tools we used when analyzing historical documents. Reading fiction and non-fiction books of all levels, my secondary students often held tightly to every word.

Though I love teaching about the Holocaust feel adequately prepared in my lesson planning and my continued education about the subject, and believe that I have equipped myself with the knowledge and tools to share the history of this time period, doing it justice, I also understand that I am not and cannot be an authority on the Holocaust, at least not in the same plane as someone who lived through it - struggled to hide, to fight, to survive. They are the best witness to the times.

It is in these instances where I realize the power of text - the importance of using the actual words of those individuals who faced marginalization and fought so hard to live another day - in helping us to communicate this content.

Using books from Holocaust survivors, as well as accurate historical texts written about the times, I able to transport my students from my classroom to a concentration camp, a hidden cellar, a makeshift attic hiding place, to a world existing after the War ended. I can read true accounts of hiding, of horror, of the atrocities and crimes committed during the Holocaust, and I can introduce very real individuals behind the words we read. This not only helps my students to relate to the text in a more sincere, personal way, but also provides them an authoritarian voice on a subject that I feel only partially equipped to teach justly. Though there are many excellent books and resources to aid in teaching the Holocaust, these great books stand out as vital resources in the World History Classroom.

Using books from Holocaust survivors, as well as accurate historical texts written about the times, I able to transport my students from my classroom to a concentration camp, a hidden cellar, a makeshift attic hiding place, to a world existing after the War ended. I can read true accounts of hiding, of horror, of the atrocities and crimes committed during the Holocaust, and I can introduce very real individuals behind the words we read. This not only helps my students to relate to the text in a more sincere, personal way, but also provides them an authoritarian voice on a subject that I feel only partially equipped to teach justly. Though there are many excellent books and resources to aid in teaching the Holocaust, these great books stand out as vital resources in the World History Classroom. #Holocaustbooks #Holocaustsurvivors #WorldHistorybooks #teachingworldhistory #socialstudiesteacher

1. Night, Elie Wiesel

Bonus! Try this Night Reading Journal & Task Card Activity to accompany the reading of Elie Wiesel’s book.

Though I love teaching about the Holocaust feel adequately prepared in my lesson planning and my continued education about the subject, and believe that I have equipped myself with the knowledge and tools to share the history of this time period, doing it justice, I also understand that I am not and cannot be an authority on the Holocaust, at least not in the same plane as someone who lived through it - struggled to hide, to fight, to survive. They are the best witness to the times. #primarysource #teachingwithprimarysources #teachingsurvivorstories #holocaustsurvivors #livetotell

2. Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi

3. Escape from Sobibor, Richard Rashke

4. Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen 

(This one is great for teaching how regular people could participate in the horrific acts like those of the Holocaust.)

5. Tell Them We Remember, Susan Bachrach

(This is a great visual tool with incredible stories!)

6. Schindler’s List, Thomas Keneally

7. Maus, Art Spiegelman 

(This book is excellent for lower level readers or readers who prefer graphic novels.)

8. Nuremberg Diary, G.M. Gilbert

9. The Poisonous Mushroom, Julius Streicher 

(Sadly, this book is out of print but you can find it online! Great children’s book to examine the use of German propaganda!)

Bonus! This Google Drive activity on The Poisonous Mushroom analyzes World War II propaganda.

To help you plan with these books and resources, consider implementing the Holocaust Unit planning guide found in the complete Holocaust Unit on TeachersPayTeachers!

By incorporating any (or all!) of these books into your unit on the Holocaust, you’ll not only have diverse primary sources for student study, but you’ll also have an authoritarian voice to help your students experience secondhand what happened during the Holocaust. #teachinghistory #teachingWorldWarII #teachingwithauthority #teachingwithconviction #teach
By incorporating any (or all!) of these books into your unit on the Holocaust, you’ll not only have diverse primary sources for student study, but you’ll also have an authoritarian voice to help your students experience secondhand what happened during the Holocaust.

Happy Teaching!

Read more »
Michele Luck
0 Comments
How to Teach about Privilege in the American Classroom

How to Teach about Privilege in the American Classroom


Teaching about privilege can be a great challenge for secondary teaching in American classrooms. It is often seen as a divisive topic, and can be considered risky in terms of job security and parental approval. And when you put the adjective "white" in front of privilege, it truly becomes a contested topic with all sides enraged over the idea of when, how, or even why it should or shouldn't be taught.

Teaching about white privilege or any privilege can be challenging for teachers in the middle or high school classroom. Read these suggestions and the step-by-step guide for introducing the important controversial subject to your students. #teaching #iteachmiddleschool #iteachhighschool #iteach678 #socialstudies #history #historyteacher #controversy #teachingcontroversy #writeprivilege #teachingwhiteprivilege #itstimetotalkracism

In the Social Studies classroom, teachers have an added load of responsibility in teaching about current events and modern issues. It is not only part of our curriculum, but it is written in the ideals of our country, making it very much our content to teach. Taking that point a step further, our lessons should go beyond teaching the ugliness of America's past and then dismissing the current implications of those actions. We need to address the HERE. The NOW. The ALWAYS HAS BEEN. We need to address it for what it is and what it always will be if we don't bring attention to bring change.

Teaching about white (or any privilege) does not have to be a screaming, fist pumping debate in your classroom. It can be dissected into tiny lessons that will help students see and further identify their own privileges while working toward understanding the implications privileges have on those who do not have them. Simple, right? Not!

Making it Simple

  1. As with any other lesson, begin with setting up the basic understanding of the vocabulary. Teach the meaning of the word privilege. What does it mean? What is its context? How can that context change?
  2. Make connections that your students will understand. Do not attempt to introduce a global understanding of privilege and its impact before they understand the more immediate implications. 
  3. Build up to the larger concepts and implications. Think back to when Social Studies was taught in elementary schools. First grade was "All about me" followed by "My family and home" and then "My community" and so on. Teach this lesson in the same format.  
  4. Do not allow it to become an "us versus them" scenario in your classroom.  ALL of your students are your students. They are one. And privilege impacts us all. Teach those lessons.

Step by Step

  1. Teach the vocabulary. Define words you plan to include in your lesson. Break them down to the simplest terms and then build them back up in the lesson. Don't assume students have a thorough understanding of any of the vocabulary and start everyone at the same level. Think about this in Disney terms. Disney does not hire ready-trained professionals for many of their professional positions (eg. photographers). They hire candidates with basic skills so they can train them in picture-taking the Disney way.  Make sure everyone is on the same page at the start and go from there. 
  2. Allow students the opportunity to make it about them first. Help them to find ways they have privilege and how they have been impacted by others having privilege. Start small. Examine locations (small towns versus big cities) or transportation methods (walking to school versus access to bussing). Understanding that there is an impact is a major step that must be attained before students can step back to see how others are impacted by their own privilege.
  3. Identify types of privilege. There are many types of privilege. They range from very personal level privileges (tall versus short) to global level privileges (being born in first world versus third world countries). Create a listing of any and all , large or small, privileges students can identify.
  4. Examine the impacts of the privileges. Take each privilege and determine how it may affect each individual and others. Find both positive and negative impacts. Create a T-Chart or Venn Diagram to organize your information.  This step is vital. Take the time to truly examine the privileges your class deem the most impactful.
  5. Determine the impact of privileges on groups. This is where "white privilege" comes into your lesson. Examine how systemic privileges exist and can impact large groups at a time. Discuss how systemic privilege can last (and grow and develop) over long periods of time. And predict the impacts of privilege on various groups over time based on history. 
But your lesson doesn't end there...
The greatest step in this lesson is helping your students brainstorm ways to bring change. Introduce a call to action. Make it a lesson that has greater implications than a grade or a notebook page completion. Make it a lesson that lasts a lifetime for your students and all those they may encounter in their lives. 

Wrapping it Up

First of all, we must acknowledge that this is a lesson that can never be wrapped up. It is a lesson that must be taught on-going. It will come back into our lessons through teachable moments again and again, and should. We should encourage discussion and an open forum in our classrooms where all students feel they can address the privilege they see, in themselves and in others. Discussing the impact of privilege should not be an attack on anyone. It is simply the disclosure of fact that needs to be addressed so the danger of its impact does not spread.

Teaching about white privilege or any privilege can be challenging for teachers in the middle or high school classroom. Read these suggestions and the step-by-step guide for introducing the important controversial subject to your students. #teaching #iteachmiddleschool #iteachhighschool #iteach678 #socialstudies #history #historyteacher #controversy #teachingcontroversy #writeprivilege #teachingwhiteprivilege #itstimetotalkracism
Finally, think of privilege in the most simplistic terms... as a virus. If we see a virus spreading, do we ignore it? Do we allow it to spread? Do we not worry about its harm on the larger population? Even if that virus is in us, do we not want to get attention and help to bring an end to it so we do not infect others and spread the effects of the virus?

Treat privilege as a lesson, not as a platitude to get attention on bring out a rise of emotion. Teach it as an issue in American (and World) history that has continued to plague us into modern times. Teach it as what it is - our content. And our responsibility.

If you would like to teach more about white privileges and how immigrants coming to America are only seeking what we hold so precious (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), I'd suggest reading Enrique's Journey with your students. I read the Young Adult version with my students and it truly helped them to understand privilege and to take a step toward living with empathy and compassion.

Also take time to link to other great lesson suggestions for teaching about the current issues in our world that should not be controversial, but vital lessons for discussion in the secondary classroom.

THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO JUAN VELAZQUEZ WHO DIED IN THE EL PASO SHOOTING. WE MUST REMEMBER THEM ALL SO THAT WE NEVER FORGET THE DUTY WE HAVE IN TEACHING OUR STUDENTS TO DO BETTER AND BE BETTER.


And while I typically sign off my posts with "Happy Teaching", I wish to change that up for this post. I feel this one has a greater call to action! #itstimetotalkracism

Teach with purpose!
 

Read more »
Michele Luck
0 Comments