Teaching Materials

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 An art contest is used as the basis from which students can examine primary historical documents (advertisements for runaway slaves) to gain a deeper understanding of the institution of slavery in the North.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
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The Rebellious Lives of Mrs. Rosa Parks

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. In this mixer lesson, students learn about Rosa Parks' many decades of activism by taking on roles from various times in her life. In this way, students learn about her "rebellious life" before, during, and long after the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Women's History
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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
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Michele Roberts, environmental justice coordinator | Zinn Education Project

The 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, Climate Justice, Environment, Economics, Racism & Racial Identity
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Remembering Mahmoud Darwish

Teaching Activity. By Naomi Shihab Nye and Linda Christensen. An essay, poem, and teaching idea utilizing famous Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish's work to help students "name the invisible forces that imprison them."
Time Periods: 20th Century
Themes: Art & Music, World History/Global Studies
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Rethinking the Vietnam War | Zinn Education Project

Rethinking the Teaching of the Vietnam War

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. Rethinking Schools. A role play on the history of the Vietnam War that is left out of traditional textbooks.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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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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Rethinking What We Know About the Vietnam War (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Rethinking What We Know About the Vietnam War

Teaching Activity. Zinn Education Project. 21 pages. Two lessons to introduce key facts about the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers, documents that provide essential history that is often ignored by textbooks.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, World History/Global Studies
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A Revolution of Values

Teaching Activity. By Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 3 pages. Text of speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Vietnam War, followed by three teaching ideas.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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Salt of the Earth: Grounds Students in Hope

Teaching Activity. By S.J. Childs. Rethinking Schools. 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, Latinx, Social Class, Women's History
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School Days: Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n’ Roll! (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

School Days: Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Teaching Activity. By Rick Mitchell. Rethinking Schools. Description of a course on the history of music in the United States.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Art & Music, Civil Rights Movements, Racism & Racial Identity
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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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Sharecroppers Challenge U.S. Apartheid: The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

Teaching Activity. By Julian Hipkins III, Deborah Menkart, Sara Evers, and Jenice View. Role play on the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) that introduces students to a vital example of small “d” democracy in action. For grades 7+.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Organizing
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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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solar house from Rethinking Schools magazine | The Zinn Education Project

Solar Power Comes to Math Class

Teaching Activity. By Flannery Denny. Rethinking Schools, Summer 2019. A math educator brings data from a friend’s solar panels — and the story to win them in their community — into her 7th-grade classroom to build a bridge between math and climate justice education.
Time Periods: 21st Century
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, Math
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Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union: Black and White Unite? (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union: Black and White Unite?

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. Role play on farm labor organizing in the 1930s shows how racism had to be challenged to create effective worker alliances.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: African American, Labor, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity
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