Laws & Citizen Rights

Climate Illustration - Schafer | Zinn Education Project

The (Young) People’s Climate Conference: Teaching Global Warming to 3rd Graders

Teaching Activity. By Rowan Shafer. Rethinking Schools. A teacher adapts the “Climate Change Mixer” designed for older students as a springboard for a unit on global warming and climate justice. She asks, "How could I bring up an issue so big and abstract, so gloom and doom, with 3rd graders? How could I not?"
Time Periods: 21st Century
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Native American, Organizing, World History/Global Studies
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Apalachicola River | Zinn Education Project

The Color Line

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A lesson on the countless colonial laws enacted to create division and inequality based on race. This helps students understand the origins of racism in the United States and who benefits.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799
Themes: African American, Laws & Citizen Rights, Native American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Constitution Role Play: Whose “More Perfect Union”? and The Constitutional Convention: Who Really Won?

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 23 pages. The U.S. Constitution endorsed slavery and favored the interests of the owning classes. What kind of Constitution would have resulted from founders who were representative of the entire country? That is the premise of this role play activity.
Time Periods: 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance, Social Class
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Deportations - 1500 Mexicans Loaded on Trains | Zinn Education Project

Deportations on Trial: Mexican Americans During the Great Depression

Teaching Activity. By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca. In this role play students analyze who is to blame for the illegal, mass deportations of Mexican Americans and immigrants during the Great Depression.
Time Periods: Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Immigration, Labor, Latinx, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity
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Five Years After the Levees Broke: Bearing Witness Through Poetry (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Five Years After the Levees Broke: Bearing Witness Through Poetry

Teaching Activity. By Renée Watson. 7 pages. Rethinking Schools. A teacher's reflection on the power of poetry to spark critical discussion and reflection on current issues of inequality surrounding disaster response in the United States.
Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: African American, Climate Justice, Environment, Art & Music, Language Arts, Laws & Citizen Rights, Media, Racism & Racial Identity
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How Red Lines Built White Wealth: A Lesson on Housing Segregation in the 20th Century

Teaching Activity. By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca. Rethinking Schools. The mixer role play is based on Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law, which shows in exacting detail how government policies segregated every major city in the United States with dire consequences for African Americans.
Time Periods: 20th Century, 21st Century
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Economics, Laws & Citizen Rights
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collage of six Black abolitionists in the United States.

‘If There Is No Struggle…’: Teaching a People’s History of the Abolition Movement

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 16 pages. Rethinking Schools. In this role play, students become members of the American Anti-Slavery Society, facing many of the real challenges to ending slavery.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Japanese American Internment Featured Image

A Lesson on the Japanese American Internment

Teaching Activity. By Mark Sweeting. Rethinking Schools. How one teacher engaged his students in a critical examination of the language used in textbooks to describe the internment.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Asian American, Democracy & Citizenship, Education, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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The Other Internment: Teaching the Hidden Story of Japanese Latin Americans During WWII

Teaching Activity. By Moé Yonamine. 18 pages. Rethinking Schools. Poetry, photography, and text are used in this role play to teach about the seldom told history of Japanese Latin American internment during WWII.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Asian American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Immigration, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, World History/Global Studies
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Rethinking the U.S. Constitutional Convention: A Role Play | Zinn Education Project

Rethinking the U.S. Constitutional Convention: A Role Play

Teaching Activity. By Bob Peterson. 14 pages. Rethinking Schools. A role play on the Constitutional Convention which brings to life the social forces active during and immediately following the American Revolution with focus on two key topics: suffrage and slavery. An elementary school adaptation of the Constitution Role Play by Bill Bigelow. Roles available in Spanish.
Time Periods: 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Native American, Slavery and Resistance, Women's History
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Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton | Zinn Education Project

Seneca Falls, 1848: Women Organize for Equality

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A role play allows students to examine issues of race and class when exploring both the accomplishments and limitations of the Seneca Falls Convention.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849
Themes: Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Women's History
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Stealing Home: Eminent Domain, Urban Renewal, and the Loss of Community

Teaching Activity. By Linda Christensen. Rethinking Schools. Teaching about patterns of displacement and wealth inequality through the history of Chávez Ravine and the building of Dodger Stadium.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, 21st Century
Themes: African American, Economics, Latinx, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Social Class
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Stenciling Dissent: A Student Project Draws on the Language of the Streets (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Stenciling Dissent: A Student Project Draws on the Language of the Streets

Teaching Activity. By Andrew Reed. Rethinking Schools. Teaching activity connects students to history of art as a means of protest and gives them opportunity and skills to create their own stencil with a powerful message.
Time Periods: All US History
Themes: Art & Music, Civil Rights Movements, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing
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Sun City – A Teaching Guide

Teaching Guide. By Bill Bigelow. Lessons to accompany the 1985 video "Sun City" that promoted the cultural boycott of South Africa initiated by Little Steven van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E St. Band.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: Art & Music, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, World History/Global Studies
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Classroom filling with water | Zinn Education Project

Teaching About Climate Change

Teaching Activities. By Bill Bigelow. 2009. Rethinking Schools. The environmental crisis requires a profound social and curricular rethinking.
Time Periods: 20th Century, 21st Century
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, Laws & Citizen Rights, World History/Global Studies
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What Rights Do We Have?

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. This lesson teaches some of the nuts and bolts of labor unions and then moves beyond to ask students to consider what rights they have at work, and to recognize that “rights” depend in large part on what people have fought for and won.
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Labor, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing
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Frances Harper, William Sylvis, Isaac Myers, and John Roy Lynch pictured. They were leaders of the Reconstruction Era in US history

When the Impossible Suddenly Became Possible: A Reconstruction Mixer

Teaching Activity. By Adam Sanchez and Nqobile Mthethwa. 25 pages. A mixer role play that explores the connections between different social movements during Reconstruction.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876
Themes: African American, Reconstruction, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Police use tear gas against participants in San Francisco’s 1934 general strike.

Who Made the New Deal? The Economic Recovery Conference Role Play

Teaching Activity. By Adam Sanchez. Rethinking Schools. Through role play, students explore how different social groups influenced New Deal legislation.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Economics, Labor, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing
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