Strong Response to Contest for Class Sets of A People’s History of the U.S.

On the release of the 35th anniversary edition of A People’s History of the United States, HarperCollins donated five class sets for the Zinn Education Project to give away to teachers. In addition, they donated 50 copies for a raffle at the 2015 National Council for the Social Studies Conference in New Orleans.

The Zinn Education Project held a contest for the class sets in November 2015. Teachers were asked to describe the impact of a lesson they had used from the Zinn Education Project website.

More than 200 teachers responded with inspiring stories about teaching people’s history, outside the textbook, with resources featured on the website.

The contest winners will be announced in early February. In the meantime, here are just a few of the wonderful stories and testimonials we received.

 Christopher Buehler, high school teacher, Portland, Ore.

My entire curriculum is based on lessons that can be found on the Zinn Education Project website. I use the Constitutional Convention Role Play, Cherokee/Seminole Removal Role Play, the Tulsa Race Riots, and many others.

The Zinn Education Project is my compass in a sea of corporate textbooks, packaged common core curriculum, and standardized testing.

One lesson that really worked this year was the Constitutional Convention Role Play. Students actively simulated what the “highest law of the land” might look like if the “Founding Fathers” looked more representative of the actual population of the time. The conclusions drawn by 14-year-old learners were more critical and prolific than I hear in most adult conversations I have about the Constitution.

Greg Smith, high school teacher, Chicago, Ill.

There’s no way I could be as effective in pushing students’ thinking and getting them to critically question the otherwise accepted narrative of history without the resources and ideas provided by the Zinn Education Project. If nothing else, it continues to push my own thinking of how to present and examine history.

Mark Gauthier, high school special ed teacher, Los Angeles, Calif.

My recent experience with the “For My People” lesson from Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice by Linda Christensen produced some of the most extensive, creative and revealing personal statements about the personal and social values of my students. We extended the lesson to include updated songs from DJ Jazzy Jeff and Jay Rock with Kendrick Lamarr to see how other writers have responded to Margaret Walker’s call for organization and activism.

Combined with a viewing of the recent film Selma and discussion of voting rights attacks in 2015, we had some lively discussions and wonderful writings in our high school English classes. Christensen’s lesson outlines and advice are spot on and help students connect, examine and extend learning in a more personal way.