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Teaching Activities (Free)

The 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond.
Students “become” several of the social groups who participated in the 1934 Longshore Workers Strike—some of whom had to answer the question, “Which side are you on?”

Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Labor, Organizing, Social Class
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Michele Roberts, environmental justice coordinator | Zinn Education Project

The Big Red Dot of Environmental Racism

Teaching Activity. By Alma Anderson McDonald.
A teacher looks back on her childhood to discover the meaning of environmental racism. Linda Christensen offers ways to teach about this story with students.

Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: African American, Economics, Environment & Food, Racism & Racial Identity
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Suffragist and labor leader Agnes Nestor | Zinn Education Project

Birth of a Rank-and-File Organizer

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 7 pages.
Writing activity for students to complete the narrative of women workers striking at a glove-making factory, exploring possible outcomes.

Themes: Labor, Organizing, Social Class, Women's History
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COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI’s War on the Black Freedom Movement

Teaching Activity. By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca. 29 pages.
Through examining FBI documents, students learn the scope of the FBI’s COINTELPRO campaign to spy on, infiltrate, discredit, and disrupt all corners of the Black Freedom Movement.

Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity
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Yup'ik village children preparing salmon | Zinn Education Project

Climate Change and School in a Yup’ik Fishing Village

Teaching Activity. By Jill Howdyshell.
This article describes how climate change is hitting Indigenous communities in Alaska much harder than other places in the world. And yet, administrators still insist that school discussions should focus on student test scores.

Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: Economics, Environment & Food, Native American
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The Color Line (Lesson) | 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
Themes: African American, Laws & Citizen Rights, Native American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery
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Eduardo Relero Apple Store in Madrid | Zinn Education Project

Congo, Coltan, and Cell Phones: A People’s History

Teaching Activity. By Alison Kysia. 28 pages.
In this lesson, students learn about the colonial history of Congo, debate responsibility for crimes against humanity, and investigate the connection, past and present, between the exploitation of natural resources and violence.

Time Periods: 19th Century, 20th Century
Themes: Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, World History/Global Studies
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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 more representative of the entire country—including enslaved people, workers, and farmers? That is the premise of this role play activity.

Time Periods: 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery, Social Class
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Daughter of Earth: Reading, Writing, and Social Class

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 7 pages.
Students read a poignant excerpt from Agnes Smedley’s novel, Daughter of Earth, and use it to think and write about how schooling—their own included—teaches lessons about social class.

Time Periods: 20th Century, Turn of the Century: 1900 - 1909
Themes: Education, Social Class, Women's History
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‘Don’t Take Our Voices Away’: A Role Play on the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change (Lesson) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

‘Don’t Take Our Voices Away’: A Role Play on the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change

Teaching Activity. By Julie Treick O’Neill and Tim Swinehart. 16 pages.
A role play on the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change asks students to develop a list of demands to present to the rest of the world at a climate change meeting.

Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: Environment & Food, Native American, Pacific Islander, Science, World History/Global Studies
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The Draft Riot Mystery

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow.
Students are invited to solve a mystery, using historical clues, about the real story of the Draft Riots.

Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Immigration, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery, Social Class, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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The Election of 1860 Featured Image

The Election of 1860 Role Play

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow.
Role play based on the election of 1860 allows students to explore the political debates of the time and the real reasons for the Civil War.

Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Slavery, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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