Teaching Materials

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
Read More
Lessons in Solidarity: Grady Hospital Workers United (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Lessons in Solidarity: Grady Hospital Workers United

Teaching Activity. By Larry Miller. Rethinking Schools. Story and discussion questions about a teacher's own experience of labor solidarity.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Labor
Read More

Lewis Hine’s Photographs

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson. 4 pages. Rethinking Schools. 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
Read More

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
Read More
One Country! One Language! One Flag! (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

One Country! One Language! One Flag!

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 3 pages. Rethinking Schools. Discussion questions and teaching ideas for examining the history of the Pledge of Allegiance and the political milieu in which it was written.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Turn of the Century: 1900 - 1909
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Education, Immigration
Read More
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
Read More

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
Read More
Our Grandparents’ Civil Rights Era: Family Letters Bring History to Life (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Our Grandparents’ Civil Rights Era: Family Letters Bring History to Life

Teaching Activity. By Willow McCormick. Rethinking Schools. An elementary school teacher connects the Civil Rights Movement to students’ family history by asking their grandparents to share their memories of the Movement.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Civil Rights Movements
Read More

Paper Airplane Simulation

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. In this simulation, students make paper airplanes to learn about the origins and effects of “scientific management”—owners’ attempt to capture workers’ skills and knowledge, and then to exploit that knowledge to reorganize work and cut costs by deskilling workers.
Themes: Economics, Labor
Read More
Paradise Lost: Introducing Students to Climate Change Through Story (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Paradise Lost: Introducing Students to Climate Change Through Story

Teaching Activity. By Brady Bennon. Rethinking Schools. A high school humanities teacher introduces students to the human cost of climate change, building empathy for climate change refugees like those in the island nation of Kiribati.
Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, Pacific Islander
Read More
The People vs. Columbus, et al. (Lesson) | Zinn Education Project

The People vs. Columbus, et al.

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 8 pages. Rethinking Schools. A trial role play asks students to determine who is responsible for the death of millions of Taínos on the island of Hispaniola in the late 15th century. Roles available in Spanish.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764
Themes: Imperialism, Native American
Read More

Poetry of Defiance: How the Enslaved Resisted

Teaching Activity. By Adam Sanchez. Through a mixer activity, students are introduced to the various ways that enslaved people resisted the brutal exploitation of slavery. The lesson culminates in a collective class poem highlighting the defiance of the enslaved.
Time Periods: Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799, 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Language Arts, Slavery and Resistance
Read More
Presidents and Slaves: Helping Students Find the Truth (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Presidents and the Enslaved: Helping Students Find the Truth

Teaching Activity. By Bob Peterson. 7 pages. Rethinking Schools. How a 5th grade teacher and his students conducted research to answer the question: “Which presidents owned people?” Available in Spanish.
Time Periods: 18th Century, 19th Century
Themes: African American, Education, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
Read More
Promoting Social Imagination Through Interior Monologues (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Promoting Social Imagination Through Interior Monologues

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Linda Christensen. 3 pages. Rethinking Schools. Empathy, or "social imagination," allows students to connect to "the other" with whom, on the surface, they may appear to have little in common.
Time Periods: All US History
Themes: Language Arts, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, Women's History
Read More
Reading Between the Lines: An Art Contest Helps Students Imagine the Lives of Runaway Slaves (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Reading Between the Lines: An Art Contest Helps Students Imagine the Lives of Runaway Slaves

Teaching Activity. By Thom Thacker and Michael A. Lord. 4 pages. Rethinking Schools. An art contest is used as the basis from which students can examine primary historical documents (advertisements for runaway slaves) to gain a deeper understanding of the institution of slavery in the North.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799, 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
Read More
Reclaiming Hidden History: Students Create a Slavery Walking Tour in Manhattan (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Reclaiming Hidden History: Students Create a Slavery Walking Tour in Manhattan

Teaching Activity. By Alan J. Singer. Rethinking Schools. How a teacher and his students organized a tour of the hidden history of slavery in New York.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799, 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
Read More