Marieke van Woerkom
Students explore the connections between young people in Florida campaigning for gun reform and youth leaders in Black Lives Matter – and consider why the media has focused so much less attention on the latter.
In this activity, students construct a timeline of youth activism, and consider how the students who are organizing against gun violence in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are part of a long history of youth organizing for justice, including for civil rights and immigrant rights.
After 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, FL, students turned their grief over the loss of their classmates into actions that galvanized the nation. In this activity, participants hear the voices of the Parkland students, and consider the variety of ways they are trying to make change.
Students learn about a few of the thousands of people who have fled Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. In small groups, students discuss their stories and consider how they may be feeling about what has happened. This companion lesson has students explore the climate refugee crisis worldwide.
This activity uses a circle format to engage students in sharing their thoughts and reactions to the Weinstein case, using tweets from a variety of sources. A backgrounder and optional student reading helps inform the discussion.
Students hear the performance of Lin–Manuel Miranda's song "Almost Like Praying," a benefit for the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Students discuss the song, see a video about how others have responded to the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico, and consider how they might use their own talents and strengths to help.
In this activity, students watch a video about responses to the Trump administration’s decision to roll back this Obama–era program, which has allowed young undocumented immigrants to stay in the country. Students then read and discuss a variety of opinions about the decision.
This lesson begins with activities aimed at creating a sense of community among your students at the beginning of the school year. It also includes an exploration of issues in the news over the summer, and helps students consider how these issues are connected to their own lives and community.
Students continue the exploration they began in Part 1 of what happened after a mosque in Fort Smith, Arkansas, was defaced. In Part 2, students learn about and discuss the aftermath of the event, which included an informal restorative process. The lesson is based on this New York Times story by Sabrina Tavernise.
In this activity, students consider what happened after a mosque in Fort Smith, Arkansas, was defaced. They explore the personal stories of people in the community, including those targeted by the attack, through information gleaned from this New York Times story by Sabrina Tavernise about the incident and its aftermath. In Part 2 of this series, students learn about and discuss the aftermath of the event, which included an informal restorative process.
Following the violent rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, this activity has students read, consider and discuss quotes about the presence of white supremacist symbols across our country, what the symbols represent, and what we should do about them.
After upsetting events like those in Charlottesville, it's important for people to be able to share their feelings, talk, and be heard, in a supportive environment. This activity, which includes a backgrounder for the teacher, has students share their reflections in a circle.
The other day I was asked about a situation that an advisor and her group of 10th graders had been struggling with all year.
While the advisor was relatively new to the school, the students had been there for years and were familiar with the expectation of weekly circles. Yet whenever it was time for circle, students pushed back, insisting on doing their homework instead. As one student argued: "Colleges only look at our core classes, so we have to work on getting our GPA up instead."
Students reflect on the way their advisory or class has worked together and consider the values that are most important to them as a group now and going forward.
Now’s a good time to help students take stock of what’s happened in the year, appreciate the community you’ve created together, and look forward to next year. Here's a roundup of activities we suggest for students of all ages.
Recently in a circle, we had a very “heavy” sharing. I was struggling to balance respectfully listening and appreciating participants' sharing and reflections. Then it got even heavier. When the talking piece got back to me, I acknowledged the heaviness in the room and suggested that we reflect on the hopes and expectations and the positive values/gifts they added to the centerpiece earlier. Do you have any other ideas?
Students consider their own identities and hear the voices of transgender people discussing their different identities, as well as challenges they face.
Students learn the definition of "transgender," discuss the controversy over ensuring safe access to bathrooms for transgender people, and consider ways they can be allies or upstanders for transgender students.
Our country is roiling over whether we welcome the refugees and immigrants who arrive at our door. The following activity may help open up discussion of this sensitive issue in your classroom. It invites students’ empathy and understanding by helping them to connect their own family's story to the experience of current immigrants and refugees.
We've been doing circles at my school as a study skills course since the start of the year. It's been challenging when students act out, not respecting the talking piece. It impacts the rest of the group and their willingness to share. Do you have any suggestions of how to handle disruptive behavior of this kind?
This lesson plan has material for two classroom sessions or circles. In part one, students share their own experiences of bias or harassment, learn a few facts about Muslims, then hear and reflect on statements from young Muslims about the impact of the 2016 election on their lives. In part two, students watch a video about efforts to combat the targeting of Muslim students at one school, consider what actions they might take to counter anti-Muslim bias and harassment, and prepare to take those actions.
When I was in Ohio a few weeks back, I visited four different middle schools that recently started implementing circles. I had been asked to do some modeling, so that teachers and counselors who were expected to run circles with their students could get a sense of what a well facilitated circle process looks like. I wasn't making any promises about what these circles would achieve, because I didn't have a relationship with any of the students and there's only so much that's possible in a first-time circle.
We've been doing circles at my school as a study skills course since the start of the year. It's been challenging when students pass, pass, and pass again. This passing seems to get contagious at times. Do you think it would work to tell students that they can't pass for more than a go round or two? How can we get some of those students to talk?