Classroom Lessons

Classroom Lessons

What happened in Ferguson - and why?

Students discuss the police killing of Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, MO, and consider the racial and economic backdrop to the killing and the protests that have followed. 

Student Debt and the Case for Free Higher Education

Would free higher education be possible in America? How did people in other parts of the world win and defend their right to affordable higher education?
This lesson is divided into three student readings. The first reading compares the scope of the present student debt crisis with the past and discusses what has changed. The second reading discusses congressional and presidential proposals for easing student debt, as well as proposals for a system of free higher education. The third reading looks at how other countries have maintained educational systems that are far more affordable for students.

Homelessness in the U.S.: Is there a solution?

While homelessness has declined over the past three years, it's still a serious problem, especially for young adults. In two readings and discussion, students consider this problem - and one promising approach for remedying it. 

Washington Redskins: Time for a Name Change?

In two readings and a media analysis exercise, students examine the campaign to change the Washington Redskins’ name and to end the use of stereotypical depictions of Native Americans in U.S. sports. 

The Navajo Code Breakers: A Lesson in Historical Empathy

Students learn about Chester Nez, the World War 2 Navajo code talker, who died on June 4, 2014. They consider why he was willing to help the U.S. war effort despite the terrible bigotry that he had endured. Through small group activities, students put themselves in Nez's place to encourage them to empathize with others, and consider how past wrongs can be remedied.

Inequality in America

A new book by economist Thomas Piketty has touched off a national discussion about economic inequality. This lesson uses the book as a jumping off point for two student readings on economic inequality in the United States and whether progressive taxation is part of the solution. The readings are followed by an exercise in which students analyze and compare charts, graphs and videos about income and wealth distribution. 

Our food, their struggle: Farmworker organizing

Two student readings give an overview of conditions facing U.S. farmworkers, past efforts at farmworker organizing, and the current successes of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Questions for discussion follow each reading.

Gay Pride: Exploring a movement, past & present

Students learn about the history of discrimination against LGBTQ people in the U.S., and about why June is Gay Pride Month. They explore gay rights movement history, learn about LGBTQ trailblazers, and consider the important role of allies. 

Still I Rise: A Circle in Honor of Maya Angelou

The remarkable poet and writer Maya Angelou died on May 28, 2014.  This activity, structured as a circle, invites students to consider Angelou’s poem Still I Rise.  It can be adapted to use in a non-circle format as well.