Monday, September 19, 2011

Ten New Teaching Activities to Engage Students

Dear Rethinking Schools friends,

Several new developments for the Zinn Education Project, the online social justice teaching site that is a collaboration between Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change. First, we're delighted that we just passed 13,000 registrations. Over 13,000 educators are using resources at to "teach outside the textbook." This is very encouraging news as we enter the new school year, and as corporate-produced text materials more and more dominate the curriculum.

Not registered? It's free and gives you access to dozens of great teaching activities.

And we've just added ten new articles that describe numerous ways to engage students in rethinking history and society. All of these originally appeared in Rethinking Schools magazine or other Rethinking Schools publications. We've re-edited the pieces for the Zinn Education Project site, and they've been attractively laid out.

The new articles are described at and include:

-- Five Years After the Levees Broke: Bearing Witness Through Poetry
A teacher's reflection on the power of poetry to spark critical reflection on current issues of inequality surrounding disaster response in the United States.

-- Learning About the Unfairgrounds: A 4th-Grade Teacher Introduces Her Students to Executive Order 9066
Students hold a "tea party" and a mock trial to connect with a challenging novel.

-- Lewis Hine's Photographs
Students use photographs to spark creative writing and critical thinking about child labor issues and social justice.

-- Stenciling Dissent: A Student Project Draws on the Language of the Streets
Students connect protest art and history.

-- The Other Internment: Teaching the Hidden Story of Japanese Latin Americans During WW II
A unit combines poetry, photography, and role play to teach about the untold history of Japanese Latin American internment during WW II.

-- "Don't Take Our Voices Away": A Role Play on the Indigenous Peoples' Global Summit on Climate Change
A role play on the Indigenous Peoples' Global Summit on Climate Change asks students to develop a list of demands to present to the rest of the world.

-- The Coming of Pink Cheeks
A personal story of what happened to the Kikuyu people of Kenya when Europeans took control of their land.

-- Remembering Mahmoud Darwish
A teaching idea uses the famous Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish's work to inspire students.

-- Unleashing Sorrow and Joy: Writing Poetry from History and Literature
How to effectively incorporate poetry into history or literature classes.

-- "If There Is No Struggle...": Teaching a People's History of the Abolition Movement
A role play puts students in the position of abolitionists confronting difficult choices about how to end slavery.

Check these out at

Finally, if you will be in the Washington, DC area on September 21, join us for the dedication of the "Howard Zinn Room" at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville, MD. It's a benefit for the Zinn Education Project. The illustrious guests include Bernice Johnson Reagon, Amy Goodman, Dave Zirin, Laura Flanders, Medea Benjamin, Barbara Ehrenreich, Craig and Cindy Corrie (Rachel Corrie's parents), and Howard Zinn's son, Jeff Zinn. Details at

I hope to see you there.

As always, thanks for your support of Rethinking Schools.

Bill Bigelow
Curriculum Editor
Rethinking Schools
The Zinn Education Project