Empowering Students, Challenging Bias

A Middle School Curriculum
  • For Educators
  • Grades 6, 7, 8


Grade Level: Middle School (grades 6, 7, 8)

TOPICS: Communication, Conflict Resolution, Identity, Media, Bias, Bullying and Cyberbullying, Injustice

COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language


Buy the Curriculum

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

About the Middle School Curriculum

Empowering Students, Challenging Bias is a curriculum for middle school educators who want to promote anti-bias concepts in order to create safe, respectful and equitable classroom and school environments. The curriculum is organized into five instructional units with 30 lessons in total. The lessons encourage students to reflect on their identity, understand and appreciate differences, explore societal issues arising from bias and discrimination, understand how people have historically confronted bias and injustice and take leadership roles in promoting justice and equity in their schools, community and society.

Educators may find it useful to use a specific lesson or lessons 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.

The curriculum can also be used in Advisory, Social Studies and Health classes as well as integrated into other subject areas. Advisors for after-school diversity and affinity clubs can use the lessons to help students understand issues and build upon that knowledge to create change in their school and community. An integrated approach to anti-bias education is significantly more powerful than tying it to one subject area.

The curriculum includes a bibliography, glossary and professional resources for educators.


Empowering Students, Challenging Bias is available 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. ADL offers half-day and full-day workshops

Overview of Units

Unit I: Setting a Respectful Classroom Tone provides lessons to build a solid foundation for students’ social and emotional skill development. The lessons help students feel safe in their classroom; expand their feelings vocabulary and empathize with others; communicate effectively; manage conflict; and learn to work as a team member.

Unit II: Identity and Differences provides lessons to build a sense of self and explore the concepts of identity and differences. The lessons help students consider various aspects of identity and the identity groups to which they belong; examine the positive and negative aspects of diversity; and explore groups, cliques and friendship.

Unit III: Analyzing Where We Get Information provides lessons to build students’ critical thinking skills in analyzing the information they receive and absorb. The lessons help students differentiate fact from opinion; explore the concept of perspective; consider various information sources; assess and analyze online information; reflect on misinformation, rumors and gossip; and learn about advertising and propaganda.

Unit IV: Understanding Bullying, Bias and Injustice provides lessons to build an understanding of the bias and injustice young people see in their world. The lessons help students understand what stereotyping and bias are; explore the different forms bias takes; reflect on bullying, identity-based bullying and cyberbullying; explore how media perpetuate bias; and gain insight into the escalation of hate.

Unit V: Challenging Bias and Injustice provides lessons to empower students to do something about the bias, discrimination and bullying they encounter. The lessons help students understand how to be an ally; challenge bias in words, actions and online; explore the differences between equality and equity; and engage in other projects that improve their school, community and world.