New Lessons

How the Word Is Passed: Discussion Questions, Writing Prompts, and Teaching Ideas

By Bill Bigelow

Teaching ideas and discussion questions for How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith.

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From the New Deal to the Green New Deal: Stories of Crisis and Possibility

By Suzanna Kassouf, Matt Reed, Tim Swinehart, Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, and Bill Bigelow

The stories of twenty people whose lives were touched by the New Deal of the 1930s come to life in this classroom activity, intended to open students’ minds to the possibilities of a Green New Deal.

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No Option Except Escape: A Role Play on the Struggles of Climate Refugees

By WorldOregon’s Young Leaders in Action

In this role-play, students explore the challenges and perspectives of people — climate refugees — who have “no option except escape” from homes devastated by climate change.

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Teaching Climate Disobedience: Using the Film Necessity in the Classroom

By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

A lesson about multiple cohorts of climate activists: Indigenous leaders in the Climate Justice Movement, valve turners using civil disobedience to stop the flow of oil, and the legal team that uses the “necessity defense” as a political tool in the courts.

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“Riots,” Racism, and the Police: Students Explore a Century of Police Conduct and Racial Violence

By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

Students explore three documents produced in the wake of three major episodes of racial violence (1919, 1967, 2014) to understand the long trajectory of police violence in Black communities.

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Repair: Students Design a Reparations Bill

By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

In this lesson, students take on the role of activist-experts to improve upon a Congressional bill for reparations for African Americans. They talk back to Congress’ flimsy legislation and design a more robust alternative.

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Who’s to Blame? A People’s Tribunal on the Coronavirus Pandemic

By Caneisha Mills

This people’s tribunal begins with the premise that a heinous crime is being committed as tens of millions of people’s lives are in danger due to COVID-19. But who was responsible for this crime? Students weigh the evidence.

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The Rebellious Lives of Mrs. Rosa Parks

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.

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Films with a Conscience

An annotated list of more than 100 films that can help students gain insights into how the world works.

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Who Gets to Vote? Teaching About the Struggle for Voting Rights in the United States

By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

Unit with three lessons on voting rights, including the history of the struggle against voter suppression in the United States.

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How to Make Amends: A Lesson on Reparations

By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, Alex Stegner, Chris Buehler, Angela DiPasquale, and Tom McKenna.

Students meet dozens of advocates and recipients of reparations from a variety of historical eras to grapple with the possibility of reparations now and in the future.

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New York Breadline Feature | Zinn Education Project

What Caused the Great Depression? The Widget Boom Game

By Adam Sanchez

A simulation helps students understand the causes of economic crises.

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Police Tear Gas San Francisco Feature | Zinn Education Project

Who Made the New Deal? The Economic Recovery Conference Role Play

By Adam Sanchez

Through role play, students explore how different social groups influenced New Deal legislation.

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Sylvia McAdam (photo) | Zinn Education Project

Meet Today’s Climate Justice Activists: A mixer on the people saving the world

By Matt Reed and Tim Swinehart

Students learn the names and stories of dozens of climate justice activists.

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How Red Lines Built White Wealth: A Lesson on Housing Segregation in the 20th Century

By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

The mixer role play is based on Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law, which shows in exacting detail how government policies segregated every major city in the United States with dire consequences for African Americans.

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Deportations on Trial: Mexican Americans During the Great Depression

By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

In this role play students analyze who is to blame for the illegal, mass deportations of Mexican Americans and immigrants during the Great Depression.

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Reconstruction Mixer Collage (Updated) | Zinn Education Project

When the Impossible Suddenly Became Possible: A Reconstruction Mixer

By Adam Sanchez and Nqobile Mthethwa

A mixer role play that explores the connections between different social movements during Reconstruction.

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What We Don’t Learn About the Black Panther Party — but Should

 By Adam Sanchez and Jesse Hagopian

A mixer role play that introduces students to the inspiring and largely untold history of the Black Panthers.

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Teaching SNCC: The Organization at the Heart of the Civil Rights Revolution

By Adam Sanchez

A series of role plays that explore the history and evolution of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

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COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI’s War on the Black Freedom Movement

By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca
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.

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