Unless otherwise noted in the annotation, resources on this page are relevant for teachers of students in any grade.
Activities From Teaching Tolerance
If you haven’t checked out Teaching Tolerance’s website, do so now! It’s chock full of useful (FREE) resources for multicultural education. A few activities specifically relevant to activism in the classroom:
About: In this activity, you guide students through reflecting on a time they saw oppression or bullying, how they reacted, and then brainstorming ways to respond in an active way. As a class, you generate a list of things students can do and say when they see injustice in their everyday lives.
Grades: 6-8 & 9-12
About: This lesson focuses on comparing and contrasting the Civil Rights Movement with a 2006 walk out of Latino American students across the country. This lesson is a good jumping off point, but I would suggest doing a little more research and finding some more articles to back up the conversation than just the short blurb in the lesson plan.
About: This booklet is available as a .pdf on the website and guides teachers through how to teach children about having civil discourse. Communication is a true skill required of any and every activist. This guide can help students learn how to have deep, meaningful, and respectful conversations without unnecessary, tiring emotional outbursts.
Zinn education project
About: The Howard Zinn Education Project focuses heavily on telling the stories of those who are typically invisible to mainstream history books. There are hundreds of teacher resources including lesson plans, books (fiction and non-fiction), videos, audio, and more. The resources are searchable by topic, age range, era, and more. This particular link goes to resources for teaching about the Civil Rights Movements (while technically there are resources about other civil rights movements, the primary focus of this is the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s), which is a great place to find activists in action. They’ve recently refurbished their website and I can’t link directly to the Civil Rights Movement materials anymore, but the link above will take you to the main “Sort By Theme” page where you can select “Civil Rights Movements,” among others.
About: This book list is organized by issue and then by reading level (DRA I believe). Books that would be of special interest to boys are also indicated. This would be a great springboard for finding more books to include in your classroom library that can start powerful conversations about contemporary issues.
About: No list about activism in the classroom would be complete without The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document was written and agreed upon by UN delegates to be the rights of all people throughout the world. Activities to accompany this resource could include students creating their own Declaration of Rights, students comparing this document to events they see around the world, and more.
About: The Youth Activism Project is a great resource for checking out projects children all over the United States have done to better their community and their world. There is a projects list, suggested steps for kids, and resources for adults as well.
YouTube is a great source for videos of famous speeches by activists as well as short documentary clips and background informational videos about forms of oppression. I chose to highlight here one young woman you may not have yet heard of:
Grades: 6-8, 9-12
About: I would definitely only share select pieces of this graphic NY Times profile of one Pakistani girl taking a stand against the Taliban’s position on female education. Another piece to watch for is the generalization that the Taliban is synonymous with Islam — I would really emphasize the difference between the two. That said, Malala is an amazing young woman fighting for her right to education in her Pakistani town. She has since been targeted and shot by the Taliban, but throughout her recovery Malala is staying strong in her stance and her beliefs. She is a wonderful example of someone unafraid to speak up for what’s right.