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Social Class

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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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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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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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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Factory workers | Zinn Education Project

Free to Think, Talk, Listen, or Sing

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 6 pages Students work with a chapter from Milton Meltzer’s classic book, Bread and Roses, to see the impact of late 19th century factory work on workers’ home lives.
Themes: Labor, Social Class
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The Homestead Strike

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 10 pages. This role play activity on the famous 1892 Homestead Strike, explores the possibility of solidarity among workers of very different backgrounds and at different levels in the workplace hierarchy.
Themes: Immigration, Labor, Organizing, Social Class
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Labor Songs

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 7 pages. Students explore the power of songs to build solidarity and increase understanding. This is the final activity from Bigelow and Diamond’s labor history book, The Power in Our Hands, and draws on the other lessons.
Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Organizing, Social Class
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Lewis Hine’s Photographs

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson. 4 pages. Using photographs to spark creative writing and critical thinking about child labor issues and social justice.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Industrial Revolution: 1877 - 1899, 20th Century, Turn of the Century: 1900 - 1909
Themes: Art & Music, Immigration, Labor, Media, Social Class
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Modern Times

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. This lesson uses Charlie Chaplin’s hilarious classic film, Modern Times, to help students think about the impact of “scientific management” on the workplace.
Themes: Economics, Labor, Social Class
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Organic Goodie cartoon | Zinn Education Project

Organic Goodie Simulation

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 7 pages. Lesson engages students in a lively simulation that helps them experience some of the pressures that lead workers to organize.
Themes: Economics, Labor, Organizing, Social Class
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Salt of the Earth: Grounds Students in Hope

Teaching Activity. By S.J. Childs. The author describes how she introduces students to the classic 1953 film, Salt of the Earth, about a miners’ strike in New Mexico.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Labor, Latino, Social Class, Women's History
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Shutdown!—Confronting Plant Closures

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. In this role play activity, students assume the roles of union members and attempt to figure out how to respond to a threatened plant closure.
Themes: Economics, Labor, Organizing, Social Class
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Stepping into Selma: Voting Rights History and Legacy Today (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Stepping into Selma: Voting Rights History and Legacy Today

Teaching Activity. Teaching for Change. 2015. Introductory lesson on key people and events in the long history of the Selma freedom movement.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Organizing, Social Class
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“Taylorizing” Burgers: A Fantasy

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 8 pages. In this playful activity, students utilize the principles of “scientific management” to restructure a burger joint—one that has been run a good deal more democratically and imaginatively.
Themes: Economics, Labor, Social Class
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Teaching SNCC: The Organization at the Heart of the Civil Rights Revolution

Teaching Activity. By Adam Sanchez. 24 pages. A series of role plays that explore the history and evolution of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
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, Social Class, Women's History
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