Lesson Plans

Champions of Change

Students analyze a variety of primary sources to consider how African American song took root as a means of spreading the message of equality  and as a critical part in unifying America in the struggle. After, students investigate the influence of contemporary music and musicians on memorializing the successes of the past and emphasizing the…

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Making a Mark: Marching & Leaping Towards Reform

Students make connections between protest, reform, and legacy through investigation of the 1963 March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, the poem “Crossing” by Jericho Brown, and an excerpt of a conversation about leaving a legacy to your country with poet, teacher, and activist Sonia Sanchez. After, students consider civic…

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Civic Actions to Impact the Future

Students make connections between the past, present, and future of the environment through their own imaginings, analysis of a primary source image, and the poem “Letter to Someone Living Fifty Years from Now” by Matthew Olzmann. After, students might assess waste or pollution in their school or local community, then consider actions they could take…

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The Importance of Voting

Students consider the importance of voting as they analyze primary sources and the poem “One Vote” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. They then learn more about the connection between poetry and the women’s suffrage movement. After, students may investigate a contemporary politician or activist advocating for voting rights and present their findings to the class.

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A New National Anthem

Students analyze the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner, then investigate how a 1991 musical rendition of the song by Whitney Houston and a poem by Ada Limón provide them with deeper insights and understanding of the U.S. National Anthem. After, students create a new version of the national anthem by either creating an erasure…

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Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

By pairing primary sources with poetry, students consider the proverb, “Good fences make good neighbors” in the context of their own lives as well as in a local, national or global context.

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How Did Birds Gain Political Protection?

Students analyze a variety of primary sources to investigate the impact turn-of-the-20th-century women’s fashion industry had on migratory birds, grassroots political efforts taken to protect the birds, and subsequent state and national laws. After, students will research a contemporary biodiversity issue and create a poster, flyer, or written announcement to inform people and call them…

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Do Our Parks Do What They Are Supposed to Do?

Students analyze primary source images and texts to investigate Frederick Law Olmsted’s theories of park purpose, design and development, then use what they’ve learned to assess a local park. Students may then make a proposal to the applicable local agency to preserve or renovate a park they identified.

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Map: Poetry & Environmental Justice

Students analyze NASA images depicting climate change and maps denoting Indian land cessions*, then read the poem “Map” by Linda Hogan. After, students discuss how the poem, images, and maps provide context to the theme of environmental justice. Students follow up and take action by researching local instances of environmental justice / injustice and write…

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Pairing Pictures & Poems to Tell Stories

Students analyze images and texts to learn the power of pairing pictures with poems to tell stories about the historical issue of child labor and issues affecting children today.

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