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Current Events Classroom

About Current Events Classroom

Selma to Montgomery March Participants Flags
Peter Pettus, photographer. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-08102

The Current Events Classroom is a collection of timely and relevant brief lesson plans that assist K-12 educators in teaching news topics and other issues of the day. Each lesson helps students analyze the topic through an anti-bias, diversity and social justice lens. [Download Lesson PDF]

The Selma to Montgomery March for Voting Rights

Summary

In March 2015, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March for Voting Rights, which led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act later that year. The anniversary provides a good opportunity to teach about activism and voting rights then and now.

After the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which largely addressed racial discrimination and segregation, voting rights for African Americans remained difficult during that time, especially in the South. In the early 1960s, there had been a great deal of organizing and protesting around voting rights and in February 1965 the murder of civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson by state troopers while he was participating in a peaceful voting rights protest led activists to organize a huge protest march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The purpose of the march was to push for voting rights legislation and it took three attempts to complete the march; the first attempt on March 7 came to be known as “Bloody Sunday” because Alabama state troopers rushed the marchers at the Edmund Pettis Bridge with whips, nightsticks and tear gas and beat them back to Selma. On March 15, President Johnson announced to a joint session of Congress that he would bring them an effective voting rights bill. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law on August 6, 1965.

This high school lesson will give students background information about the historical struggle for voting rights and the Selma to Montgomery March that took place in Alabama in March 1965. Students will also explore voting restrictions today and gain insight into what can and should be done to preserve the right to vote.

Grade Level

9-12

Time

45-60 minutes

Common Core Anchor Standards

Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening


[Download PDF]

Elementary School Lessons

We Can All Be 'Kid President' (PDF)
This lesson uses Kid President’s video on Martin Luther King, Jr. to talk with students about activists and their qualities and activities. Students will identify and explore famous and ordinary activists and conduct research on an activist. (Grades 2-5)

Who Is Malala Yousafzai? (PDF)
Malala Yousafzai in 2014 is the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize at age seventeen. Students learn about Malala, why she won the prize and explores what it means to be an activist. (Grades 4-7)

Mo'Ne Davis and Gender Stereotypes (PDF)
Mo'Ne Davis, a 13 year old girl, made news headlines because of her distinction in Little League Baseball. This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about Mo'Ne Davis and explore gender stereotypes about sports and in other areas of their lives.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964: 7 Ways to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary (PDF)
Includes a variety of teaching strategies about the history of discrimination and racism in the United States, the struggle for civil rights, the Civil Rights Act, and the strides we have made as well as the work that remains to be done. (Grades K-12)

Identity-Based Bullying (PDF)
When bullying targets aspects of a person’s identity, it is called identity-based bullying, and may include bias about appearance, race, culture, gender and gender expression, language, religion, socioeconomic status, disability and sexual orientation. This lesson will help students define and understand identity-based bullying, reflect on experiences they have had and analyze scenarios and come up with potential solutions. (Grades 2-5)

Who Am I? Identity Poems (PDF)
Lesson provides an opportunity for children to learn more about poetry, understand the role of metaphors and comparisons in poetry and reflect on aspects of their identity in order to write an acrostic poem about themselves. (Grades 2-5)

Toys and Gender (PDF)
Holiday season is a time of year when children and families think about buying toys for children. This lesson gives students the opportunity to learn about and reflect on how toys are influenced by gender stereotypes and how children and their families are impacted by those messages. (Grades K-3) UPDATE: Subsequent adaptations of this lesson have been included for PreK students.

What is Marriage Equality? (PDF)
Lesson provides an opportunity for students to explore marriage equality, gain background information about it, and reflect on their own thoughts and feelings about marriage equality. UPDATE: As of October 2014, the U.S. Constitution guarantees marriage equality for same-sex couples in 25 states plus District of Columbia. (Grades 4-8)

MIddle School Lessons (Recent)

The Trap of Masculinity: How Sexism Impacts Boys and Men PDF)
Lesson will help students explore how we, as a society, view boys and men and understand concepts of masculinity. Students will reflect on those messages, identify where those concepts and stereotypes come from and begin to understand how they can be challenged. (Grades 8-12)

Beyond Stigma and Stereotypes: What is Homelessness? (PDF)
Students gain an understanding of who is homeless, the reasons people become homeless and the ways in which homeless people are victims of violence and harassment. Students will also explore how, as a society, we stigmatize and stereotype people who are homeless.

Should Washington's NFL Team Change Their Name? (PDF)
Students learn about the controversy, understand different perspectives about the use of Native American mascots in sports and reflect on their own points of view through activities and writing. (Grades 8-12)

Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act Fifth Anniversary (PDF)
Provides an opportunity for students to understand the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, learn about how hate escalates and consider what young people can do in their schools and communities to prevent hate crimes. (Grades 6-12)

Who Is Malala Yousafzai? (PDF)
Malala Yousafzai in 2014 is the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize at age seventeen. Students learn about Malala, why she won the prize and explores what it means to be an activist. (Grades 4-7)

Who are the Children at Our Border? (PDF)
Students learn about the unaccompanied children at the U.S. border, read and reflect on two children’s stories and consider their opinion about the situation and what to do about it by writing a persuasive letter. (Grades 7-12)

Student Dress Codes: What's Fair? (PDF)
Students reflect on their own opinions regarding student dress codes, identify school and students needs and perspectives and design their own dress codes that satisfy both student and school needs. (Grades 6-12)

Civil Rights Act of 1964: 7 Ways to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary (PDF)
A variety of teaching strategies about the history of discrimination and racism in the United States, the struggle for civil rights, the Civil Rights Act, and the work that remains to be done. (Grades K-12)

What is Weight Bias (PDF)
Students discuss and define weight bias, identify stereotypes about overweight and obese people and explore what can be done about weight bias in their classroom, school and society at large.

Middle School Lessons

60 Years Later: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education (PDF)
Students learn about the court ruling and study two infographics to analyze and reflect on the modern day “school-to-prison pipeline” and the opportunity gap. (Grades 6-12)

Responses to Bias: Donald Sterling of the L.A. Clippers (PDF)
Students learn about Donald Sterling’s racist statements, discuss what they would do in certain stakeholder roles and explore the different responses. (Grades 6-12)

Who Was César Chávez? (PDF)
Students learn about César Chávez, the strategies he used to create change for the migrant farm workers and analyze and reflect on modern day civil rights and labor struggles. (Grades 6-12)

Stereotypes of Girls and Women in the Media (PDF)
Students examine certain media forms and their portrayals of women and girls and how media shapes public perception and can perpetuate bias.

The Sound of Silence in Football: Derrick Coleman (PDF)
Students discuss this inspiring football player, learn more about Derrick Coleman’s life and reflect on a story written by a deaf teenager.

Nelson Mandela: ‘A True Hero of Conscience’ (PDF)
In celebration and memory of the life of Nelson Mandela, this lesson provides students the opportunity to learn, in several ways, more about Nelson Mandela and his extraordinary life.

What is Marriage Equality? (PDF)
Lesson explore marriage equality, gain background information about it, and reflect on their own thoughts and feelings about marriage equality. (Grades 4-8)

High School Lessons (Recent)

The Selma to Montgomery March for Voting Rights (PDF)
Lesson will give students background information about the historical struggle for voting rights and the Selma to Montgomery March that took place in Alabama in March 1965.

The Trap of Masculinity: How Sexism Impacts Boys and Men (PDF)
Lesson will help students explore how we, as a society, view boys and men and understand concepts of masculinity. Students will reflect on those messages, identify where those concepts and stereotypes come from and begin to understand how they can be challenged. (Grades 8-12)

Exploring Solutions to Address Racial Disparity Concerns (PDF)
This lesson will help students reflect on some of the underlying problems and issues that have emerged from recent cases, undertake research and present viable solutions.

Is Gaming a Boy's Club? Women, Video Games and Sexism (PDF)
This advanced high school lesson provides students an opportunity to learn more about the world of video games and understand how sexism and misogyny are perpetuated in gaming. (Grades 11-12)

Anti-Semitism Around the World: Global 100™ (PDF)
Provides an opportunity for students to understand about anti-Semitic attitudes and stereotypes by people around the world and consider what can be done about anti-Semitic attitudes.

Addressing Hate Online: Countering Cyberhate with Counterspeech (PDF)
Students define and learn more about cyberhate, reflect on their own experiences with cyberhate and explore the role of counterspeech in being an online ally.

Should Washington's NFL Team Change Their Name? (PDF)
Students learn about the controversy, understand different perspectives about the use of Native American mascots in sports and reflect on their own points of view. (Grades 8-12)

Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act Fifth Anniversary (PDF)
Provides an opportunity for students to understand the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and how hate escalates. Also see Analyzing Hate Crimes Statistics (PDF). (Grades 6-12)

Who are the Children at Our Border? (PDF)
Students learn about the unaccompanied children at the U.S. border, read and reflect on two children’s stories and consider their opinion about the situation. (Grades 7-12)

High School Lessons

Student Dress Codes: What's Fair? (PDF)

Students reflect on their own opinions regarding student dress codes, identify school and students needs and perspectives and design their own dress codes that satisfy both student and school needs. (Grades 6-12)

Privilege, Discrimination and Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System (PDF)
Students learn about unearned privilege, examine racial disparities in the criminal justice system and explore the role of privilege in the different interactions white and people of color have with law enforcement.

Microaggressions In Our Lives (PDF)
Explore what microaggressions are, how they have experienced them and what can be done to counteract them.

Bias, Bullying and Bad Behavior in the NFL (PDF)
Students reflect on the news story about two Miami Dolphins football players in a situation involving bullying and bias.

Self-Defense and Racial Profiling (PDF)
Discuss the homicide of Renisha McBride, who was shot to death while seeking help after being in a car accident and analyze the role of self-defense and racial profiling.

Nelson Mandela: ‘A True Hero of Conscience’ (PDF)
Students learn more about Nelson Mandela and his extraordinary life.

High School Lessons

What is Happening in Ferguson, MO? (PDF)
Students learn about the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown and reflect on their thoughts and feelings about the case, analyze the militarization of the police and explore activism.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964: 7 Ways to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary (PDF)
A variety of teaching strategies about the history of discrimination and racism in the United States, the struggle for civil rights, the Civil Rights Act, and the work that remains to be done. (Grades K-12)

60 Years Later: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education (PDF)
Students learn about the court ruling and study two infographics to analyze and reflect on the modern day “school-to-prison pipeline” and the opportunity gap. (Grades 6-12)

On the Rise: Anti-Semitism in Europe (PDF)
Students define anti-Semitism, identify and categorize incidences of anti-Semitism and learn about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Transgender Identity and Issues (PDF)
Learn about transgender identity and issues, the barriers faced by people who identify as transgender or are gender non-conforming and how we can make schools safe for them.

Responses to Bias: Donald Sterling of the L.A. Clippers (PDF)
Learn about Donald Sterling’s racist statements, discuss what they would do in certain stakeholder roles and explore the different responses. (Grades 6-12)

What is the Dream Act and Who are the Dreamers? (PDF)
Students learn about the DREAM Act, reflect on different perspectives about it and identify their own opinion to defend in writing.

Who Was César Chávez? (PDF)
Students learn about the strategies he used to create change for the migrant farm workers and analyze and reflect on modern day civil rights and labor struggles. (Grades 6-12)

Stereotypes of Girls and Women in the Media (PDF)
Examine certain media forms and their portrayals of women and girls and how media shapes public perception and can perpetuate bias.

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