civil rights march

Resources for Integrating Social Justice Into Your Classroom

by Marsha Rakestraw As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., and his legacy, today, it’s important to remember that, with global challenges growing and violence, injustice, cruelty and destruction flourishing, it’s vital that we address issues of social justice (human rights, environmental preservation, animal protection, media, culture, and changemaking) with students — to help them…

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war & peace

Children’s Picture Books About War and Peace

by Marsha Rakestraw Some children have known war their entire lives. As journalist and peace teacher, Colman McCarthy says, “Why are we violent, but not illiterate? Because we are taught to read.” We teach children science, math and competition, but not peace. We offer them lessons on good character and anti-bullying, but often don’t model…

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Resources: Making Connections

Making Connections, Creating Solutions

This activity helps students think about how we are all connected and how our actions impact others and the environment and inspires students to learn more about issues that interest them and to create solutions to address local and global challenges. Recommended for grades 5 and up. Time: Three to four 45-60 minute class sessions

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beauty in nature

Resources for Reexamining Columbus Day

by Marsha Rakestraw Today is Columbus Day in the U.S., and this year, as in generations before, elementary schools all across the country will teach another group of children that, “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue” and discovered America. It is a fact that Columbus sailed to North America in 1492 and encountered Native…

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post it notes

Inspiring Changemakers to Find Solutions with the Rethink Challenge

by Marsha Rakestraw One of the most powerful aspects of humane education is its focus on positive solutions. Educating students about global challenges is important, but it’s the integration of connection, creativity, critical thinking, and creating solutions that really feeds and enables students’ hunger for becoming changemakers for a better world. In the Summer 2014…

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dictionary

The Art of Circumlocution and Verbal Evasion: Exploring Euphemisms

by Marsha Rakestraw “You can’t be afraid of words that speak the truth, even if it’s an unpleasant truth….I don’t like words that hide the truth.” ~ George Carlin We use euphemisms every day, words and phrases that are a less direct or “nicer” way of talking about uncomfortable, harsh or sensitive topics. Sometimes they…

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women from africa

Changing the “Single Story” About Africa(ns) … and Others

by Marsha Rakestraw Recently I read two books, each featuring a female protagonist. One was by a black woman from Barbados, the book filled with characters of color living “normal” lives. The other by a white man who wrote about the tragic (and eventually redeemed) life of a young impoverished girl in Mozambique. Two different…

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display of magazines for sale

Magazine Scheme: Are We Here?

Students explore articles, images, and ads in magazines targeted to teen girls to explore messages about women and girls and the effect of those messages on young women and men. (The activity can also be modified to explore appropriate men’s magazines and messages about men and boys.) Recommended for grades 7-12. Time: 2 class periods…

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Resources: Mouse vs. Zucchini

Mouse vs. Zucchini: A Lesson on Perspective

Using a brief video featuring a mouse and a zucchini on a kitchen counter, students will consider the issue of perspective and discover and think about the perspectives of other people and of nonhuman animals. Recommended for grades 2-7. Time: 30 minutes

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plastic pollution

I Taught Kindergarteners About Plastic Pollution, and They Are Eager to Be Part of the Solution

by Elizabeth O. Crawford, Ph.D. During Earth Week 2018, I was a guest presenter to kindergarteners attending Island Montessori School (IMS) located in the beautiful, coastal town of Wilmington, North Carolina. As teacher educators often remark, classroom visits rejuvenate and inspire our work preparing the next generation of educators. When we spend time with children…

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