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Current Events Classroom

About Current Events Classroom

Girl Writes Justice for Mike Brown in Chalk Ferguson Missouri
Loavesofbread, licensed under the Share Alike 4.0 International

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.

Lesson 1: What is Happening in Ferguson, MO?

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the situation in Ferguson, grapple with their thoughts and feelings about the case, analyze the militarization of the police and reflect on activism in order to effect change. (Download PDF)

Lesson 2: Privilege, Discrimination and Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to reflect on the killing of Michael Brown through the lens of race, privilege and power. Students will learn more about unearned privilege, examine the various levels of racial disparities in the criminal justice system and explore the role white privilege plays in the different interactions white and people of color have with law enforcement. (Download PDF)

Summary

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black teenager who was about to start college, was allegedly shot multiple times and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Following the shooting, hundreds of people gathered at the scene of the shooting to organize vigils to remember Michael Brown as well as protest to demand answers as to why he was shot. Over the course of the next several days, these protests, the majority of which were peaceful, were reportedly met with a heavily armed police department.

The story has captured the attention of the nation and the media. It struck a chord with many people who perceive the situation as emblematic of a trend in which a disproportionate number of young unarmed black men have been killed by police officers. The story continues to make front page headlines because of the way the police department in Ferguson and St. Louis have handled various aspects of the case and its aftermath, as well as the ongoing clashes between police and protestors. Michael Brown’s death and the circumstances around it raise issues of race, inequality, bias, power, police relations with the communities they serve, activism and social and economic justice.

Grade Level

9-12

Common Core Anchor Standards

Reading, Speaking and Listening

Download "What Is Happening in Ferguson, MO?"

Download "Privilege, Discrimination and Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System"

Elementary School Lessons

Mo'Ne Davis and Gender Stereotypes
Mo'Ne Davis, a 13 year old girl, has made news headlines because of her distinction in Little League Baseball. This elementary 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)
The Anti-Defamation League presents this special edition lesson that includes a variety of teaching strategies and resources to help you commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act with your students. The lesson provides an opportunity for educators to teach and students to learn more 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)
Bullying is a major problem in our schools. When it 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 elementary 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)
April is National Poetry Month, which is a good opportunity to explore poetry with your students. Because poetry does not require strict sentence structure or the usual grammar rules and conventions, young children are often open to and interested in experimenting with poems. This 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. In our society, very few toys are free of gender packaging and most toys are either associated with girls or boys. Often, those associations are stereotyped, so that “girl toys” tend to focus on domesticity, nurturing and appearance whereas “boy toys” emphasize building, action and aggressive play. This lesson will give 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)
This 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. (Grades 4-8)

Middle School Lessons

Civil Rights Act of 1964: 7 Ways to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary (PDF)

Lesson provides an opportunity to teach and learn more 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)

What is Weight Bias (PDF)
Lesson provides an opportunity for students to 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.

60 Years Later: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education (PDF)
Students will learn more about the Brown v. Board of Education ruling and study two infographics in order to analyze and reflect on the modern day “school-to-prison pipeline” and the opportunity gap that both exist in our public schools. (Grades 6-12)

Responses to Bias: Donald Sterling of the L.A. Clippers (PDF)
Students learn more about Donald’s 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 more about César Chávez, the strategies he used to create change for the migrant farm workers and to analyze and reflect on modern day civil rights and labor struggles. (Grades 6-12)

Stereotypes of Girls and Women in the Media (PDF)
Lesson provides an opportunity for students to critically examine certain media forms and their portrayals of women and girls. This is a two-part lesson that requires the students to conduct investigative work in between the two sessions. (Grades 6-12)

The Sound of Silence in Football: Derrick Coleman (PDF)
In this lesson, students will 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 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. (Grades 4-8)

High School Lessons (Recent)

Privilege, Discrimination and Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System (PDF)
Students learn more 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.

What is Happening in Ferguson, MO? (PDF)
Students learn more 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)
ADL presents this special edition lesson that includes a variety of teaching strategies and resources to help you commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act with your students. (Grades K-12)

60 Years Later: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education (PDF)
Students will learn more about the Brown v. Board of Education ruling and will study two infographics in order 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 have an opportunity to define anti-Semitism, identify and categorize incidences of anti-Semitism, gain an understanding of the Pyramid of Hate and learn more about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Transgender Identity and Issues (PDF)
Students learn more 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 and welcoming for them.

Responses to Bias: Donald Sterling of the L.A. Clippers (PDF)
Students learn more about Donald’s 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 César Chávez, the strategies he used to create change for the migrant farm workers and to analyze and reflect on modern day civil rights and labor struggles. (Grades 6-12)

Get Regular Updates

The Current Events Classroom is a collection of timely and relevant lesson plans that assist K-12 educators in teaching news topics and other issues of the day.

If you want to receive an update every time there is a new Current Events Classroom lesson (could be as often as weekly), send an email with your request to educationcurriculum@adl.org.

High School Lessons

Stereotypes of Girls and Women in the Media (PDF)
Provides an opportunity for students to critically examine certain media forms and their portrayals of women and girls. Students will consider how media shapes public perception and can perpetuate bias.

Microaggressions In Our Lives (PDF)
Students 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)
Students have the opportunity to 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. In both cases the shooter was white and also similar was the perpetrator's claim of self-defense.

Nelson Mandela: ‘A True Hero of Conscience’ (PDF)
In celebration and memory of the life of Nelson Mandela, this special edition of The Current Events Classroom provides students the opportunity to learn more about Nelson Mandela and his extraordinary life.

Analyzing Hate Crimes Statistics (PDF)
Students learn more about hate crimes, FBI's annual Hate Crime Statistics report and background on the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA).

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