CURRICULUM

DEFINING ECONOMICS

The following lesson plan "defining economics" is an introductory lesson covering several early topics that will be revisited throughout a semester course.  Covering several content standards, the lesson defines and discusses economics, scarcity, consumption, and several other key terms.  

Economics, as a formal term, is presented in a hands-on and engaging format where students are provided only brief components of the textbook definition.  The definition is carved into 7 small components that are then assigned and given to students to contemplate, and ultimately present their understanding aloud for a larger group synthesis:  Social science - concerned with the way society chooses - to employ its limited resources - which have alternate uses - to produce goods and services - for present and future - consumption. 

As an interactive activity, the lesson lends itself to several additional content standards and social justice at large.  Teacher-guided dialogue on each respective component (of the larger definition of economics) can lead critical thinking into deeper understanding.  The concept of "...the way society chooses" for example can lead into a discussion and definition of scarcity.  In a similar guise, the concept of "to employ its limited resources" can lead a discussion into labor markets, and the notion that people too, are resources.  This, alongside "...alternative uses," lends itself to a deep discussion on meritocracy, capitalism, and how economics interacts directly with political science.  As you explore the lesson in further detail, you will see these themes prominently included.  Differentiating between democracy and capitalism creates an internal reflection of the students' individual roles within our society and how they "vote" with their dollars.  Within a take-home assignment, the notion is expanded to include their neighborhood and community; how their personal society is included in economics.

 

BY: Chris Rooney

SOURCE: http://www.teachingeconomics.org/content/index.php?topic=defeconomics

IMMIGRATION MYTHS

The following lesson plan "defining economics" is an introductory lesson covering several early topics that will be revisited throughout a semester course.  Covering several content standards, the lesson defines and discusses economics, scarcity, consumption, and several other key terms.  

The Immigration Myths lesson plan allows students to not only think critically, but also interact with the lesson by moving around the classroom.  This applies to the theme of the social justice because it teaches students to learn a deeper level about immigration than is readily available in current textbooks.  In addition, the topic of immigration is a very current topic/issue in which students can learn the history and also learn how to use their knowledge to take action in their communities. For example, after learning about various immigration myths, if a student hears someone joke about a negative stereotype outside of the classroom, he or she will know how to correct or properly inform the person, rather than partaking in the joke or being a silent bystander.  This lesson plan provides the opportunity for students to become social justice activists in their own right.  Personally, as an immigrant student, I think I could have benefitted from a lesson like this in my secondary education.  This lesson would have helped me feel validated in standing up for myself instead of letting other people continue to tarnish my reputation as an immigrant.


 

THE COMMON CORE AND LINGUISTIC HEGEMONY

“English –Only to the Core: What the Common Core means for emergent bilingual youth” by Jeff Bale

 

This resource talks about the teaching of English in the classroom and the ignoring or framing of bilingual students as a deficit. In English, the background of a student’s linguistic knowledge is often ignored when it can be taped into and used to further their understanding of the English language. Second language learner already puts the student in a negative light while calling them an emergent bilingual frames them as someone with previous knowledge. The article calls for more of a need of translations of texts so that all students are able to access the same material.

I taught a previous lesson on Big Sean’s song “Blessings” in which students were able to learn the importance of voice in their writing. Taking from this article, I could use a bilingual song like “Despacito” by Justin Bieber to discuss the importance of voice within writing. I can tap into the bilingual students’ previous knowledge by having them discuss the differences in voice between the Spanish parts of the song and the English parts of the song. Taking it further and making it about social justice, we could discuss as a class if Justin’s song is cultural appropriation or appreciation, as he is a white male singing in Spanish. This allows for more of a voice in the bilingual community, expressing both voices in their lives, and raises a question of who has a voice within society.

BY: Emily Miller

SOURCE: https://www.rethinkingschools.org/articles/english-only-to-the-core

EMMETT TILL: THE FIGHT TO MEMORIALIZE CIVIL RIGHTS ICONS

Grade: 9-12

 

This lesson has the essential question: What do we gain when we learn about the lived experiences of other people?

 

There are texts that tell the story of Emmett Till, a boy who was killed while visiting relatives in Mississippi because he allegedly whistled and said something suggestive to a white woman in a store.  The woman’s husband and brother killed him in a very violent manner and his mother held a public open casket funeral to show the world what happened to her son.  There are questions at the end of the texts as well so that the students can think more critically about what they are reading.

 

This could be a social justice lesson in that I would bring in the ways that this relates to the present day in that young black boys (like Trayvon Martin) have been killed by white men and/or police alike and when the news hits, there is always a push to dig into the background of these teenagers to prove why they deserved it.  It shows that this is a historical problem.

BY: Mya Fenderson

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/learning-plan/emmett-till-the-fight-to-memorialize-civil-rights-icons

JOURNALISM OF JUSTICE

The lesson is a writing assignment that can be used in multiple areas. It has the students pick, write, and distribute a piece of journalism on a relevant social justice problem or issue. It is a social justice lesson for two reasons. First it makes the students think critically about social justice and what it means and looks like. Secondly it allows for student choice. It had the students pick a topic which could be culturally relevant and keeps the student central for the lesson. Another good thing about the lesson is that in a history classroom students could be told to take on roles from the past. The students have multiple ways to handle this lesson but it is a social justice lesson none the less.

BY: Eddie Honath

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/student-tasks/do-something/journalism-for-justice
 

DEVELOPING EMPATHY

The lesson that I’ve decided to settle on is directed to help the students understand the psychological effect of empathy. It is targeted for grades 6-8, however, I believe that it could be properly adapted in a high school setting without much modification. The wonderful thing about this lesson is it is both a mini introduction to psychology while still being grounded in social justice. The students will practice viewing situations from a perspective of another individual and through sharing with other classmates will begin to understand why we must observe events and literature through multiple lenses. It also assesses the student’s own ability to empathize which could be used so that they understand certain areas that they need to work on. I think this would be a great introduction to further forms of social justice since the first step is always understanding where the other party is coming from.

BY: John Matis

MUSIC AND THE MOVEMENT

Music touches the lives of people constantly. It is a constant sound that is a part of everyone's lives. The lesson "Music and Movement" explores how music was used as a tool of empowerment during the Civil Rights Movement. Two essential questions are posed in the lesson: What important protest music came out during Civil Rights Movement? Why might music as protest songs be created during times of unrest? The lesson is conducted to work with students from 6-12th grade and centers itself around the Birmingham Youth movement in the 1960's. Songs are analyzed and critically examined by students to understand the purpose of why African Americans used music as another source to voice their discontent. It challenges students to look at music from another perspective and form of voice used for protest.

The lesson also drives itself to be student-centered as the teacher places the focus on students to think of events relevant to their lives and asked to write political lyrics to a children's tune. Students are able to self-reflect, integrate what they analyzed in class, and use their own voices to express a genuine concern in their everyday lives through music.

BY: VyNgo

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/tolerance-lessons/music-and-the-movement

THE RETURN TO SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL

This report describes school funding injustice in the state of Wisconsin. The “shared costs per pupil” of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), the largest school district in Wisconsin, is significantly lower than the “shared costs per pupil” of surrounding suburban districts. The student population in these surrounding suburban districts is overwhelmingly White while Milwaukee’s student population is comprised of 71 percent of African-American students in the entire state. The report is quick to point out that, from 1980 to 1998, there has been an inverse relationship between Milwaukee’s African-American population and its “shared costs per pupil”: as the African-American population grew, “shared costs per pupil” decreased. This injustice is reminiscent of the Mendez, et al v. Westminster court case in which students of Mexican ancestry were segregated into separate schools. These “Mexican Schools,” as they were called, received less funding than surrounding non-Mexican schools. Not only does this report raise awareness of the injustice but it also offers solutions for social justice. It proposes that state-imposed revenue caps need to be lifted and that Wisconsin’s school funding policies need to be modernized.

BY: Juan Delgago

SOURCE: https://www.rethinkingschools.org/articles/the-return-to-separate-and-unequal

CRITICAL TEXTUAL ANALYSIS OF THE 14TH AMENDMENT

I found a text breakdown of the 14th Amendment which was then broken down alongside questions to further understand the dated language and ideas used. With regards to social justice, the 14th Amendment discusses voting rights and government representation as they are related to race and gender. With the current events regarding DACA and other anti-immigration policies, I would anticipate this text spurring a great deal of classroom conversation and student interest.
 

BY: Aaron Kwan

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/texts/14th-amendment

ENGAGING AND UNDERSTANDING NONRELIGIOUS PEOPLE

This lesson is a lesson on Engaging and Understanding Nonreligious people. The students first read a facts sheet on the 1 to 3 percent of Americans that are nonreligious. They also watch a video about the experiences of nonreligious. Students then explore the rights of nonbelievers. Students then teach each other what they learned about the rights of nonbelievers and respecting religious diversity and the right to not believe in God.

This lesson is a social justice lesson because it explores the members of a minority. Students of religious and nonreligious backgrounds have the opportunity to see why this particular minority group has been target of discrimination. The students in turn create a tool to help educate others about the importance of respecting atheism as well as religious diversity. Working at a Catholic School I would love to see students research a belief different form the one they are taught.

 

BY: Maria Corona

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/tolerance-lessons/engaging-and-understanding-nonreligious-people

DIS-ABILITY: WHAT IS DIFFERENTLY ABLED?

Through the Teaching Tolerance website, I was able to find a lesson about learning disabilities called What is Differently Abled?  This lesson focuses on elementary school leveled students and reflects on questions such as, "What is a learning disability?" and, "What are some advantages of living in a world in which people learn in different ways?"  Some of the vocab words include discrimination and prejudice which makes it easier to make this a social justice lesson.  My two favorite objectives from this lesson are, "consider their own, their school's, and society's biases related to learning disabilities," and, "consider ways to fight prejudice and discrimination against those with learning disabilities."  Learning disabilities are more common in our society now than ever and I believe that with a lesson like this, the idea of having a learning disability will become more normalized thus resulting in less prejudice. 

 

BY: Abigail Galletti

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/tolerance-lessons/what-is-differently-abled

RE-LEARNING THE VIETNAM WAR AND AMERICAN AGGRESSION

American history classes often look at the USA  as being the arm of justice, with its actions being justified beyond reproach. However this could not be further from reality. The lesson I want to teach looks at the Vietnam war as a symptom of the larger issue of American aggression overseas. After World War II, America shed its isolationist policies and began to police the world based on its own values of democracy in capitalism. It fought wars that shipped 18 year old boys to places they did not know to fight a war they did not believe in. Politicians imposed their will on other cultures due to an ideological fear at the cost of the lives of both Americans and foreign civilians. I want to critically look at how American made textbooks see the Vietnam war and compare them to accounts from the Vietnamese population as well as the voice of the soldiers sent off to war. This will allow students to not only look critically upon the motives of this single war, but about the policies the American government has enforced outside of its borders for its own natural interest. I will look to relate this to both before Vietnam with the Korean war as well as afterwards with the Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the current American foreign policy.

 

BY: Jackson Avery

SOURCE: https://zinnedproject.org/materials/rethinking-the-teaching-of-the-vietnam-war/

USING PHOTOGRAPHS TO TEACH SOCIAL JUSTICE AND IDENTITY

The lesson I found was one that utilized photos to encourage discussion and a lesson regarding identity. The main activity has students analyze photos that clearly are examples of differing identities to understand the concept of identity itself. It encourages critical thinking and reflection with guiding questions like “What do you imagine the person in the photo is thinking about?” or “What feelings do you have when you look at this photograph Andy why?”. There are also captions for each photo that give students a small but understandable glimpse into what was happening in the photo as well as what was happening in the world when the photo was taken. It is a social justice lesson because it brings up topics of identity and specifically identities that are often marginalized. The lesson also encourages students to gather information and thoughts through discussion with people who may have different ideas than their own. It shifts students perspective to ones that might not be their own, which is an important aspect of social justice lessons. The lesson concludes with opening up dialogue for students to think about and discuss their own identities, which is important to help them engage with the lesson’s content on a deeper level. I like this lesson because it can be made simpler or more complex based on the students’ ages and teachers can decide which identities they provide pictures of to give students perspectives that are different (or the same) as their own.

 

BY: Adriana Divecchia

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/tolerance-lessons/using-photographs-to-teach-social-justice-exploring-identity

EXPELLING ISLAMOPHOBIA

This reading discusses the increased rates of bullying, discrimination, and harassment against American Muslim students in school. There is often the stereotype and perpetuated idea that Muslims are violent and a threat against America, but in these schools, it is actually the other way around. One of the biggest reasons that this issue is one that is difficult to address is because of misconceptions and misunderstandings that teachers hold about Islamic culture and religion. These teachers are uncomfortable asking questions about these topics, so their misunderstandings mostly go unchecked and they never learn the truth. In terms of teaching these concepts in the classroom, there is often an idea of Muslim students being "othered" by the majority of students in schools. Properly teaching about Islamophobia and the harms it can cause can help students better understand their peers with different religious or cultural backgrounds and work to get rid of that Islamophobia. This reading would be good in middle school and higher, when students have a better understanding on world religions and understand discrimination and its harm.

 

BY: Zoe Bonfield

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/spring-2017/expelling-islamophobia

MUSIC TO HEAL OUR RAGE

“If You’re Angry and You Know It” is a unique way of using music as a way to teach Kindergarten through second grade students how anger can be managed. Providing understanding and emphasizing that it is okay to be angry, as long as you are not mean or hurting others, is significantly important to teach students as they encounter certain situations in their everyday life that may upset them. By making a list of appropriate and inappropriate reactions to anger, the students understand how to best deal with their frustrations. Then, teachers will ask the students to brainstorm ideas of how they can manage their anger in an appropriate manner, and include those phrases into the new, adapted version of "If You're Happy and You Know It". Students are not only able to brainstorm and discuss these different strategies in class, but are also able to implement them into upsetting situations they encounter, whether that is something they saw on the T.V., or a bullying incident that occurred to them. Because racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, etc., are all common forms of bullying from a young age, this will allow them to stand up for themselves and for each other whenever they may be in this situation. The familiar tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It" will not only encourage students to quickly add on their own, unique phrases, but also remember the lyrics as a way to help them if they are every put into an angry situation in their everyday life.

 

BY: Sarah Scholle

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/exchange/if-you-re-angry-and-you-know-it

I AM ASIAN-AMERICAN

Being Asian American is an interesting thing. Personally, a lot of people ask me where I'm from, as if the thought that I could have been born and raised here did not exist. They tell me that I'm exotic looking and that I have such good English. However, what these people do not understand is that I'm fourth/fifth generation Japanese American, which is very different from being Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and so on. I am Asian American. My culture is a both a mix of American values with Japanese culture.

This article introduces what the term "Asian American" means and the type of people that can identify as Asian American. Speaking in terms of an Asian woman, we (Asians) tend to get clumped together. We're simply all "Asian" or "Chinese," but there is a difference. It's important to know and be educated about. Because of the idea that we are all clumped together, it's also sometimes assumed that we all speak the same language, even if some of us have only ever known English.  

Additionally, I like how this article touches on the idea that being seen as Asian comes with the stereotype of being the model minority, meaning we get pegged as really smart nerds or really quiet and introverted. This can really hurt our self-esteem and psychological confidence.

 

BY: Kristi Kayoda

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/summer-2013/i-am-asian-american

RETHINKING SEXISM AND GENDER IN THE CLASSROOM

A lesson I would like to incorporate into the classroom is, "Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality." I would teach this lesson to fifth grade students, since this is when they learn about the human body and the parts that define our gender. I would start off the lesson by reading excerpts from the book, "Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality," by Annika Butler-Wall, Kim Cosier, Rachel Harper, Jeff Sapp, Jody Sokolower, and Melissa Bollow Tempel, which is a collection of inspiring stories about how to integrate feminist and LGBTQ content into curriculum, making it part of a vision for social justice, and creating classrooms and schools that nurture all children and their families. After reading various sections, I would want to open up a discussion allowing students to critically analyze the text. Though the text is intended for educators, I think it's important for students to hear this insight because it will help them connect to the content emotionally, physically, and intellectually and reevaluate how they view and treat students who may be considered "different".

 

BY: Sammy Hurst

SOURCE: https://www.academia.edu/27280930/Title_Rethinking_Sexism_Gender_and_Sexuality-Reviewed_by_Hilary_E._Hughes_and_Vicki_Scullion

CHILDREN AND CRITICAL MEDIA LITERACY

The lesson plan that I found most interesting and powerful for elementary school children was teaching them to be sensible consumers. The lesson I found was on the Teaching Tolerance website called "Sensible Consumers". This lesson is geared toward grades 3-5 and aims to educate students on how to critically analyze digital advertisements and recognize stereotypes and bias online. Students will be given a handout and different advertisements to deconstruct and critically analyze. This is a social justice lesson, because even though more children continue to use digital media they are unaware of the unintended messages they receive by consuming it. Thus, this lesson gives children, at a young age, the tools to question what they are exposed to and be hyperaware of the advertisements and other media they consume daily. Furthermore, this lesson allows students to write to the creators of the advertisements that they analyze, and express their discontent with hidden messages they uncover. Additionally, I believe a good take home part to this lesson would be to ask students to critically analyze and reflect on some of their favorite movies or brand advertisements.

 

BY: Karly Bokosky

SOURCE:  https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/tolerance-lessons/sensible-consumers

TEACHING EMPATHY

empathy [em-puh-thee] (noun) the understanding of or the ability to identify with another person's feelings or experiences

Before we attempt to understand the differences between individuals, it is best to understand the tools needed to cooperatively communicate with someone who is different. Empathy is not something people are born with, and it is not even a guarantee that everyone has the chance to learn the proper way to be empathetic. It is typical to see a sympathetic response to someone else’s pain, but how does this affect an individual when they attempt to actually learn about others? Stepping into another person’s shoes requires several steps of learning behaviors and comprehending how one should be constructing actions and reactions. This lesson is relevant because it teaches young children how to be sensitive towards others by explicitly teaching consciousness of emotions in others. Social justice starts with understanding that even though people are innately different from each other, everyone shares the common ground of having pride in who they are and what they stand for. Developing a community of respect for each other begins with being able decipher the feelings of another person and creating a shared experience as each individual controls their reactions to each other and build a stronger relationship.

 

BY: Carly Croft

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/tolerance-lessons/what-is-empathy

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw&feature=youtu.be

INCLUSIVITY IS NOT A GUESSING GAME

This article is a lesson on social justice because the teacher is a great example of teaching in the way of social justice in that she truly knew and understood her 28 5 year-old students. Over time she got to know the three students on a personal level to understand and empathize with their frustration over not being able to enjoy birthday candies like the rest of the class. Since the teacher was aware of their cultural eating limitations, she was able to be prepared and have something for them so they too felt included and part of the birthday festivities. As we have discussed, getting to know your students’ lives is the first step to teaching in the way of social justice.
 

 

BY: Alyssa Kaplan

SOURCE: https://www.rethinkingschools.org/articles/inclusivity-is-not-a-guessing-game

A BACKLASH AGAINST ARAB AMERICANS

This resource dealt with the violence experienced in the United States, directed towards Arabs and Muslims, following the 9/11 attacks. The author explained that anyone “who looked Muslim,” including Sikhs, was a potential target for misguided acts of retribution. The author went on to say that President George W. Bush appealed to the nation for tolerance, but it did little to stem the hostility and violence. Muslim women were also harassed for wearing traditional headscarves. This lesson is a social justice lesson because it raises the awareness of the intolerance that people experienced. Today, our government talks about a “Muslim Ban,” and this lesson provides context for where that type of thinking comes from and how it unfairly targets people who simply want to practice their religion peacefully.

 

BY: Chris Collodel

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/texts/a-backlash-against-arab-americans

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S GENDER DIVERSITY

In this article, the instructor was challenged by a student because the student was questioning if the Shakespeare book they were reading was going to amount to a lesson. The instructor then attended a workshop about challenging the gender binary and realized what lesson she could implement on A Midsummer Night. Challenging the gender binary to anyone is a sensitive subject that not many people are comfortable talking about, but challenging it to seventh graders is a whole new level of risk. This teacher looked at the adjectives young students use to describe males and females and made the class think about the societal roles they are placed in just by the body parts they are born with. These students never questioned the adjectives they used until this instructor pointed out that "bromance" doesn't need to be a label if two women, who spend a lot of time together, don't have one as well. I believe this is a social justice lesson because gender binaries are extremely heightened in any school setting, so to challenge this way of thinking to relatively young students, is helping them critically think about the way they perceive gender for the rest of their lives.

 

BY: Marissa McShane

SOURCE: https://www.rethinkingschools.org/articles/a-midsummer-night-s-gender-diversity

UNPACKING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: RACIAL DISPARITIES

The lesson is focused on Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System.  This lesson is about racial disparities among drug crimes.  Part of the reading that is done is from "The Color of Justice."  The students will learn about how many Supreme Courts rule in regards to discrimination in the criminal justice system.  
This is a social justice lesson because it shows the students how criminalization is standing in for overt racism by reducing the rights of a racially defined person. The point is to show the students how this is not creating a fair society for everyone based on race.  My hope would be that students will want to make a difference after this lesson.

 

BY: Bridget Wilhelm

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/tolerance-lessons/racial-disparity-in-the-criminal-justice-system

THE MENDEZ CASE: A TALE OF TWO SCHOOLS

The article "A Tale of Two Schools" shares the story of the Mendez family and their case against a discriminatory school system. This story all takes place in Orange County, California and was used in the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case. This story shows students how social justice is achieved and the great effect it can have not only on their own community, but the greater society. It also shows Latino students that their community also contributed to the Civil Rights, something that is mainly taught at a Black vs. White issue

 

BY: Cecilia Hernandez

SOURCE: https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/texts/a-tale-of-two-schools

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