Anti-Bias Study Guide (Secondary Level)

A High School Curriculum
  • For Educators
  • Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

GRADE LEVELS: High School (grades 9, 10, 11, 12)

TOPICS: Respectful Dialogue, Cultural and Values, Bias, Bullying and Cyberbullying, Media and Stereotypes, Social Injustice

COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS: Arts, Behavioral Studies, Civics, History, Language, Writing

Buy the Curriculum

It’s recommended to use the curriculum in conjunction with a training from your local ADL office.

About the High School Curriculum

The Anti-Bias Study Guide (Secondary Level) is for educators to use primarily with students in grades 9–12 as supplementary material to enhance existing curricula. The materials have been designed to assist educators and students in exploring ways to ensure that the tenets of freedom and equality on which this country was built become realities. This anti-bias curriculum includes 32 lesson plans organized into five instructional units. The lesson plans encourage young people to: (1) explore societal issues arising from bias, bigotry and discrimination; (2) improve critical-thinking skills; (3) examine diverse viewpoints; and (4) take leadership roles in promoting justice and equity in their schools, communities and society at large.

A CD accompanies the Anti-Bias Study Guide (Secondary Level) that includes all Student Handouts (English and Spanish Versions), lists of Additional Resources for Students and Educators and Correlations of Lessons to the National Standards.

The material in this anti-bias curriculum fits most naturally in Social Studies and English classes; however, it is also connected to other subject areas, providing excellent opportunities for team teaching and cross-discipline learning. An integrated approach to anti-bias education is significantly more powerful than one that asks young people to think about prejudice and discrimination only on certain days or with particular teachers.

Anti-Bias Education

Schools in the United States have long played a vital role in supporting the nation’s democratic ideals. Providing all students with a quality education—one in which academic and social development are inseparable goals—is essential to creating equal access to opportunity and fostering responsible citizenship.

Educational environments that reflect the rich diversity of the community, nation and world assist in opening young people's minds and actively engaging them in their own learning. Research has shown that prejudice is countered when schools and classrooms foster critical thinking, empathy development and positive self-esteem in young people.

Anti-bias education is a comprehensive approach to learning designed to actively challenge stereotyping, prejudice and all forms of discrimination. Creating inclusive, respectful classrooms where young people feel comfortable talking about difficult but important issues is an ongoing effort and working for social justice is a life-long endeavor. To prepare for successful learning of anti-bias concepts in the classroom, teachers should consider some criteria for creating positive, anti-bias environments where respect for diversity is taught, modeled and experienced firsthand.

With comprehensive anti-bias education, the mastery skills that participants acquire include the following:

  • Young people understand the various dimensions of identity and apply this understanding to their thinking and behavior.
  • Young people develop an understanding of basic terms and concepts relating to prejudice and discrimination and apply this understanding to their interactions with others.
  • Young people increase their understanding of the impact of culture on communication and apply this understanding to their interactions with others.
  • Young people develop the capacity to recognize and acknowledge bullying, prejudice and discrimination in themselves, in others and within institutions.
  • Young people develop and put into practice skills to challenge bullying, bias and discrimination in themselves and others.

Overview of Units

Unit I: Building a Strong Foundation provides lesson plans that allow teachers and young people to create a climate conducive to the honest exchange of ideas. The lesson plans build on one another, developing a deeper understanding of the importance of listening to others and sharing ideas from diverse perspectives.

Unit II: Cultural Identity and Values provides an opportunity for young people to research and share their cultural heritages. This unit also provides opportunities to critically explore the complexities of United States culture and to examine the benefits and challenges of a pluralistic society.

Unit III: Analyzing Information is devoted to helping young people improve their critical thinking skills. The lesson plans provide opportunities for young people to objectively analyze sources, to evaluate data and to investigate historical and current events from multiple perspectives.

Unit IV: Identifying and Examining Bias gives young people an opportunity to examine sources of bias and to understand how bias manifests itself in U.S. society. Additionally, lesson plans in this section introduce young people to the concept of institutional discrimination, the role of the media in society and how bias and bigotry affect everyone.

Unit V: Challenging Bias encourages young people to understand the various roles that individuals play with regard to biased behavior, namely, targets, aggressors, bystanders, confronters and allies. Lesson plans are designed to encourage activism, advocacy and personal responsibility for confronting and interrupting prejudice.

Anti-Bias Framework

Each lesson in Anti-Bias Study Guide (Secondary Level) has a core activity for young people and extension ideas that include writing activities and fit within English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum. Educators may find it useful to use specific lesson plans from a particular unit to support ongoing curricular content; however, we encourage the consideration of using the units sequentially. By progressing through the units in this manner, students build a strong foundation for analyzing and confronting bias. Each section consists of 5–7 lesson plans. All of the lesson plans build upon the previous lessons/units and are highly interactive, modeling a participatory process that encourages youth to actively engage with issues that affect their classroom, school and community. As young people work together and share diverse perspectives and backgrounds, solving problems, brainstorming and discussing the material, they learn to communicate respectfully, cooperate and improve their critical thinking skills. Research indicates that all of these abilities are associated with decreased discriminatory behavior.

Developing a plan for using this anti-bias curriculum in conjunction with the standard curriculum should take into account both the academic skills needed to successfully engage in the lesson plans as well as the level of maturity and experience required to discuss diversity issues safely and effectively.

It's recommended to use Anti-Bias Study Guide (Secondary Level) in conjunction with a training from your local ADL office. This anti-bias training provides a framework for the curriculum's use in the classroom. It also helps participants: (1) recognize bias and the harm it inflicts on individuals and society, (2) explore the value of diversity, and (3) improve intergroup relations and combat racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice and bigotry.

ADL offers half-day and full-day workshops.

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