Teaching Materials

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.
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, Art & Music, Environment & Food, Language Arts, Laws & Citizen Rights, Media, Racism & Racial Identity
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The Fugitive's Song | Zinn Education Project

Frederick Douglass Fights for Freedom

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow.
A lesson to introduce students to the numerous and varied ways African Americans resisted their enslavement, using the autobiographical Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.

Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849
Themes: African American, Slavery
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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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Haiku and Hiroshima: Teaching About the Atomic Bomb

Haiku and Hiroshima: Teaching About the Atomic Bomb

Teaching Activity. By Wayne Au. 3 pages.
Lesson for high school students on the bombing of Hiroshima using the film Barefoot Gen and haiku.

Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944, Cold War: 1945 - 1960
Themes: Language Arts, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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History Textbooks: “Theirs” and “Ours”: A Rebellion or a War of Independence? (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

History Textbooks: “Theirs” and “Ours”: A Rebellion or a War of Independence?

Teaching Activity. By John DeRose. 4 pages.
Analysis of textbook passages from different countries, videos and books are used to explore different perspectives about the same event in history, i.e. “Philippine-American War” vs. “War of Philippine Independence.”

Time Periods: 20th Century, Turn of the Century: 1900 - 1909
Themes: Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, World History/Global Studies
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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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‘If There Is No Struggle…’: Teaching a People’s History of the Abolition Movement

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 16 pages.
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
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Inside the Volcano (Teaching Guide) | Zinn Education Project

Inside the Volcano: A Curriculum on Nicaragua

Teaching Guide. Edited by Bill Bigelow and Jeff Edmundson. 1990. 130 pages.
Fourteen interactive lessons on the history of Nicaragua.

Time Periods: 20th Century, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, World History/Global Studies
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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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Lawrence, 1912: The Singing Strike

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond.
Role play on the 1912 Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, Mass.

Time Periods: 20th Century, World War I: 1910 - 1919
Themes: Art & Music, Immigration, Labor, Organizing, Women's History
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Japanese American Internment Featured Image

A Lesson on the Japanese American Internment

Teaching Activity. By Mark Sweeting.
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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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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