I have been teaching history in Boston for 16 years, and I strive to teach my students that they have a voice and the power to take action. No text helps me do that more than Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and the supplementary materials provided through the Zinn Education Project. I find your materials to be well-crafted. For example, the role play activity where students take on the identity of people impacted by the U.S. – Mexico War generates excellent discussion each time I use it.
I use thought-provoking statements from Zinn’s text in mini-debate activities, such as a spectrum line. For example, I will ask students to stand along a line ranging from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree” in reaction to one of Zinn’s statements. By simply standing, they express an opinion. Student volunteers will then share why they have taken that particular position.
One of my favorite moments using A People’s History came this year when we read about the beginning of differentiation between indentured servants and slaves after Bacon’s Rebellion. A student said, “If racism was purposefully created, it means that people can un-create it.” I couldn’t hope for a better realization, and it is for moments like these that I am excited to continue to use materials from the Zinn Education Project in my classroom.