Thinking on Education: Teaching Civil Disobedience

She Stood for Freedom: Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

As we teach history, one of the many important ideas from the world’s shared history is the use of civil disobedience to motivate change.

This is sometimes a tricky concept for younger children, because they are so ingrained with rules at home and at school.

“Don’t cross the street without looking both ways.”

“Don’t hit your sister.”

“Don’t touch the hot stove.”

“Don’t jump on the bed.”

“Don’t yell.”

Sometimes we all — not just children — struggle with the nuances of breaking a law because it is a bad one. That very struggle is why we view those who improve society through civil disobedience as heroes.

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws,” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote. “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Junior Memorial in Washington DC, USA

As dictionaries define it, civil disobedience is the refusal to comply with certain laws as a peaceful form of political protest. Or, as Emmeline Pankhurst, a late-1800s British suffragist, put it:

Teaching Civil Disobedience“We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.”

For her own acts of civil disobedience, Pankhurst was arrested about 20 times throughout the 40 years she campaigned for women’s right to vote. British women gained that right in 1928, just a few weeks after Pankhurst’s death.

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland was one of many white and black protesters who spent time in prison for their actions during the Civil Rights Movement. Mulholland faced violence and anger when she joined friends at a 1963 Woolworth’s sit-in in Jackson, Mississippi, but didn’t back down or retaliate.

Many others throughout history caused important change through their civil disobedience.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi led the Salt March in 1930 — a peaceful protest of British rule in India and its unfair taxes and production restrictions on Indian salt. As Gandhi made the 240-mile march on foot, villagers along the way gathered to the cause.

Teaching Civil DisobedienceChange did not immediately happen for the Indian people after this, but Gandhi’s act inspired others, and eventually brought great change for his people.

Claudette Colvin

Civil disobedience almost always takes time to be effective, and sometimes multiple people must resolutely rise up before the spark of hope catches. Before Rosa Parks’ quiet but monumental act, one teen did the same in March 1955.

Claudette Colvin
Courtesy PBS

Claudette Colvin was a 15-year-old high school student in Montgomery, Alabama. As she explained in a March 2018 interview with the BBC, when the driver asked her to give up her seat in a full bus, she refused.

“He wanted me to give up my seat for a white person and I would have done it for an elderly person but this was a young white woman,” she said in the interview.

Colvin told the bus driver she’d paid her fare, and had the right to remain where she was. Police arrested her and placed her in an adult cell, not a juvenile detention center, Colvin said. Her mother bailed her out about three hours later.

In 1956, after the ensuing Montgomery Bus Boycotts, Colvin was one of four people to testify to the United States Supreme Court about bus segregation. The court ruled to end segregation on buses.

The Tank Man

1989 was a year of changes — with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the uprising in Romania, and the arrest of Manuel Noriega. But one lone man in China became an emblem of the fight for freedom worldwide.

In Beijing that year, student-led demonstrations protested China’s Communist government, and called for basic human rights. The students stationed their main protest near their “Goddess of Democracy” statue in Tiananmen Square.

China’s government responded with military force, killing many with sprays of gunfire and tanks. One man, known only to history as the Tank Man, symbolized the Chinese government’s suppression of human rights and the students’ protest.

Tank Man
Courtesy Britannica

On the morning of June 5, after massive violence and deaths just the night before, the Tank Man faced down a line of tanks as they rolled into the square. Caught on video by journalists, the man blocked the tanks as they tried multiple times to maneuver around him. Even as gunfire could be heard around him, he alone gestured to the tanks to turn back.

Eventually, the tanks went around him and continued on, but his effort became a symbol to the world.

Teaching Civil Disobedience

These are just a few examples of those who used civil disobedience for the betterment of themselves and others. Brave change-makers of history can inspire students today to be the change they want to see in their own society.

“Whenever people ask me: ‘Why didn’t you get up when the bus driver asked you?’ I say it felt as though Harriet Tubman’s hands were pushing me down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth’s hands were pushing me down on the other shoulder. I felt inspired by these women because my teacher taught us about them in so much detail,” Colvin said of her experience.

Even at a young age, students can and should learn the importance of civil disobedience, explained Andrea S. Libresco, professor of Social Studies Education at Hofstra University, in her 2018 National Council for the Social Studies article. Libresco highlighted how two children’s books — “The Little Book of Little Activists,” by Penguin Young Readers, and “The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist, by Cynthia Levinson — can show students their own power.

Teaching Civil Disobedience
Youngest Marcher, by Cynthia Levinson

Using these books, Libresco suggested various learning strategies to engage students:

Use primary source images and discuss the freedoms and rights the participants are protesting for.
Dig deep with questions such as:
  • Who has the power to make — and change — rules and laws in society?
  • What are citizens’ responsibilities to their community?
  • What are governments’ responsibilities to its citizens?
  • What situations might call for different kinds of protest?
  • Besides a march, what are other methods of protest?
  • What obstacles do people face in their struggles for change?
  • How do you measure the success of a movement?
  • Are there any issues about which you feel strongly enough to protest?
Create project-based learning where students research issues and represent their research in one of the following ways:
  • Talk to family and friends about an issue
  • Learn or write a song or poem about the topic
  • Write letters to a company or public official
  • Make a mural
  • Post informational signs at school
  • Go to a local meeting or hearing
  • Hold a fund-raiser with an educational component
  • Add an article about the topic in a school newspaper or website
  • Attend a demonstration with their families
“The message is this. The world doesn’t have to be the way the world is. Good people can act, and the world can be better, and so can we.” Freeman Hrabowski III
Children have a keen sense of right and wrong and can be true change-makers in their communities. Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, witnessed this in his own life. In a PBS broadcast, he described how, at the age of 12, he participated in the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963.

That experience was a powerful example to him, to the world at that time, and to others today. Just last year, after learning about the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963, fifth graders from Case Elementary School in Akron, Ohio joined others in the National School Walkout to protest gun violence.

“The message is this. The world doesn’t have to be the way the world is. Good people can act, and the world can be better, and so can we,” Hrabowski said.

Thinking on Education: Using Screens and Print Effectively in the Classroom

Studies show we all read more today than in previous generations. While printed books and magazines are still a part of our lives, much of our reading consumption is digital.

While technology innovation allows education to reach many students more efficiently, some educators worry that it is also limiting some students’ skills. At the forefront of this is reading literacy, comprehension and other critical skills.

Screens vs. PrintDigital reading is changing the way we read, suggested Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice at the University of California, Los Angeles, at February’s Learning and the Brain conference in San Francisco.

Wolf postulated “that one of the threats of this shift is that it will hurt humans’ ability for deep reading, which she describes as involving empathy, background knowledge, critical analysis, imagery and reflection,” Sydney Johnson reported Feb. 18, 2019 in “Reading Fuels Empathy. Do Screens Threaten That?”

“The sum of these processes helps prepare citizens to be critical thinkers and empathetic — or not,” Wolf said.

Wolf and others worry that this lack of connection could seriously affect students’ future.

“We are in this moment where ‘other’ is becoming a threat,” Wolf said at the February conference. “The compassionate imagination of childhood begins with understanding that there are others outside of ourselves. We have never needed the role of story more than right now for our children to understand a compassionate sense.”

Studies back up Wolf’s assertions. Geoff F. Kaufman of Carnegie Mellon University and Mary Flanagan of Dartmouth College found that students’ decision processes change when approaching a problem digitally vs. in print.

Utilizing a board game format — or that same game translated to an iPad — they tested subjects’ ability to prevent a health outbreak. Flanagan and Kaufman were surprised when their study showed that analog users  communicated significantly more with their teammates and performed better than digital users.

“[T]he app-game players focused on dealing with immediate, local outbreaks of disease. Those playing the board game were more likely to keep a ‘big picture view’ of which people outside an immediate outbreak might be vulnerable, and they worked together more as a team. Overall, the board game players were better at stopping the outbreak and winning the game,” Kaufman and Flanagan said in May 2016 Education Week report.

This is concerning. Today’s classrooms throughout all levels of education are not ruled by just paper and pencils, but also through keyboard and tablet. Because of this, ultimately the discussion cannot be about “Screens vs. Print,” but where to utilize each more effectively.

Pros and Cons

Flanagan and Kaufman researched further and tested subjects with other tasks either online or in print. They found some pros and cons to both media.

In their studies, digital readers recalled concrete facts and details better than print readers. But print readers scored better when asked to infer meaning and relationships, or ponder abstract concepts.

Other studies found that “students who typed notes on their laptops rather than writing them on paper tended to take down information verbatim rather than summarizing concepts.” Those who summarized the concepts, rather than recording them verbatim, remembered more a week later.

Many educators find digital content is often more engaging for reluctant readers than a sheet of paper or a book. Unfortunately, these same readers tend to skim while reading online, and do not comprehend the text as deeply, or “construct complex arguments, or make connections to their own experiences,” according to a 2014 Education Week article.

Screens vs. PrintWe cannot ban technology from the classroom, though.

“It is fair to say that reading digitally is part and parcel of living and learning in the 21st century .… No matter how complex the question of reading across mediums may be, teachers and students must understand how and when to employ a digital reading device,” said Lauren Singer, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, and Patricia Alexander, a University of Maryland professor, in a 2017 Inside Higher Ed article.

Singer, Alexander, Wolf, Flanagan, Kaufman and other researchers hope more study will lead to ways of helping students develop what Wolf calls a “bi-literate” brain, where they can benefit from the assets of both medium.

For now, these experts suggest teachers use a hybrid approach.

“There are many times when you are trying to get students to compare facts and figures. If you are making a timeline for World War II, it might be really great to have digital technology to optimize comprehension of details like that,” Flanagan said in the 2016 article. “But when you want students to think more analytically about something, especially when you are asking something new — ‘How would you compare what happened in World War II to the Gulf War,’ say — that may require a shift in thinking. You may want to get off the screen for that for a little while.”


Studies Weekly Social Studies and Science materials allow students and teachers to read and complete activities both online and in print. For more information, visit studiesweekly.com.

Tackling the Bard: Teaching Shakespeare to Elementary Students

William Shakespeare’s works may be more than 400 years old, but their messages still resonate today.

Even after all this time, Shakespeare’s characters and themes still live within each of us, as Maggie Trapp, a UC Berkeley Extension instructor pointed out in a January 2018 Berkeley “Voices” blog. And his wordplay and characterization both entertain, but challenge us.

“These plays have managed to speak complicated truths to all manner of audiences and readers for hundreds of years,” Trapp said in the blog post.

Alan Craven, professor emeritus at University of Texas at San Antonio, agreed in a 2013 UTSA article by Cindy Tumiel.

“The language is rich, the characters are complex and many of his basic themes — love, treachery, honor, bravery and political intrigue — still resonate today,” Craven said. “Humans still experience love, loss, betrayal, war, humor and tragedy, which gives Shakespeare a foothold in modern times.”

Teaching Shakespeare, though, can sometimes seem as scary as Macbeth’s fatal vision of a dagger. And with so much violence and innuendo in Shakespeare’s plays, how do we introduce Shakespeare to elementary and middle school students? And really, how do we get beyond the dreaded high school trudge through “Romeo and Juliet”?

Fear no more! As good luck would have it, helpful hints this way come.

Teaching Shakespeare1. All the World’s a Stage

…. And there are many players upon this world who have successfully performed Shakespeare for the masses.

Every Shakespeare unit should begin with a movie or stage viewing of at least a part of the play or scene. Think about it — would you prefer reading the script of the latest Avenger adventure or watching the movie?

Not all full movie or play versions are appropriate for kids, but many parts of these productions are suitable.

2. The Play’s the Thing

Shakespeare’s works were never meant to be “read and deadened behind a desk.” They are plays — meant to be performed and “explored on their feet,” as Mark Powell, artistic director of Prime Theatre said in 2014 article for The Guardian.

At the elementary level, students can use finger puppets, Legos, action figures or simple paper cutouts to discover short Shakespeare scenes and themes.

3. Is This a Book I See Before Me?

( , Undefined, 12

Shakespeare’s language is delicious, but as Brynn Allison points out in her 2017 lesson plan for We Are Teachers, he “was a wordy guy.”

“Cut to the important parts of scenes and summarize the less important parts,” she suggested.

Teachers can summarize the play and its characters for their elementary students, then delve deeper into just one important scene, or even just one important soliloquy or interchange between characters.

4. My Kingdom for a Comic Book?

Teaching Shakespeare
Macbeth

Another option — especially for lower level readers — is Mya Lixian Gosling’s stick figure Shakespeare comics at Good Tickle Brain. She’s created short comics for most of Shakespeare’s plays, and even the gorier ones are quite palpable with her clever drawings. Students can’t help but enjoy pairing her comics with more in-depth scene discussions.


These are but a few of the many ideas to successful sparked student’s interest in Shakespeare. For more ideas, start with the following:

teachingchannel.org/video/approaches-to-teaching-shakespeare

weareteachers.com/best-shakespeare-activities-printables/

readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson1031/terms.pdf

brighthubeducation.com/lesson-plans-grades-3-5/27536-teaching-shakespeare-to-elementary-students/

To view Studies Weekly’s resources on Shakespeare, login to your online account or visit our YouTube page.

Thinking on Education: Women’s Important Contributions to the STEM Fields

As educators all around the nation celebrate women’s roles in history this month, we want to highlight a few unique female contributions as well.

STEM education — or the emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math — is a hot topic in the industry. Tech leaders in every state are working towards coding and computer engineering classes for students all the way down to the elementary level.

Many of these leaders — through SheTech experiences and Girls Who Code events — focus on capturing the imagination of young women and girls. More girls need to realize women have been in every aspect of STEM fields almost since their beginnings.

Chemistry and Physics

Women and STEM
Marie Curie

Marie Curie, 1867-1934, was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and the only woman to win two Nobel Prizes in two different disciplines: one for chemistry and one for physics.

The Polish-French scientist is most famous for her work on radioactivity with her husband, Pierre Curie. But she also discovered two elements, polonium and radium.

Curie also broke education barriers. After her husband’s death in 1906, she was appointed to his vacant professorship and was the first woman to teach at the Maison de Sorbonne. According to Brittanica, she also founded medical research centers in Paris and Warsaw.

Engineering

Women and STEM
Edith Clarke

Edith Clarke, 1883-1959, earned her master’s degree in electrical engineering at MIT in 1919 — the first such degree awarded to a woman there. One of her job titles was “Computer.” Before the machines we know today, people were the computers of the past.

Clarke worked at AT&T and GE. While at GE, she analyzed and calculated mathematical models for transmission lines, and wrote many research papers on power distribution.

Clarke accomplished a number of firsts in her day. According to the Edison Tech Center, she was the first female electrical engineering professor in the United States. She also was the first woman to present a paper before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and later was the Institute’s first female fellow.

Engineering Design

Women and STEM
Olive Dennis

Olive Dennis, 1885-1957, was the nation’s first service engineer. She is most famous for riding the rails of the B&O railroad, traveling millions of miles in order to improve the rail traveler’s experience.

Dennis earned her master’s degree in civil engineering at Cornell, only the second woman to do so. Dennis started with the railroad as a draftsman, designing bridges. Soon she moved into her design engineering role, where she improved all aspects of rail travel. Through her research, she redesigned the trains’ chairs, windows and sleeping cars; and updated dining cars, restrooms and food offerings.

She was the first woman to become a member of the American Railway Engineering Association.

Mathematics

Before the 2016 movie, “Hidden Figures,” very few people appreciated the contributions of Katherine Johnson, 1939-1956; Dorothy Vaughan, 1910-2008; and Mary Jackson, 1921-2005. But without these women, America might not have even been a contender in that era’s race to space.

Women and STEM
Katherine Johnson, courtesy of NASA

Johnson spent more than 30 years calculating flight paths for America’s spacecraft. She is most famous for calculating the flight path for Freedom 7 in 1961, which sent the first U.S. astronaut into space. According to Brittanica, her calculations were so accurate that John Glenn asked her to verify the electronic computer’s calculations before his own flight orbiting the Earth.

Women and STEM
Dorothy Vaughan, courtesy NASA

Vaughan was NASA’s first African American manager. She oversaw the female computers of the segregated West Area Computing Unit. Their work contributed to the success of the early space program. According to NASA, engineers highly valued her recommendations and often requested that she personally handle challenging assignments.

Women and STEM
Mary Jackson at Work NASA Langley
Courtesy NASA

Early on, Jackson reported to Vaughan as one of her computers. She moved on to work with Kazimierz Czarnecki, conducting experiments in a 60,000 horsepower wind tunnel. After completing engineering courses, she became NASA’s first black female engineer in 1958. She went on to author numerous research reports. She also made a significant impact on the hiring and promotions of the next generation of female scientists.

Space

Women and STEM
Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa, born in 1958, was the first Hispanic female astronaut. She was also the first Hispanic — and second female — director of the Johnson Space Center. According to NASA, she went to space four times from 1993 to 2002. She logged almost 1,000 hours in orbit.

Ochoa earned NASA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal. She also earned the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award, as well as many other awards throughout her career. She has six schools named for her.

Discovering More

These are just a few women who made unique contributions to the STEM fields — there are many, many others. Though less prominent in some
textbooks, women are a part of history — from fossils to fission, and disease management to software development.

Students everywhere are lucky to have teachers who help them discover these women throughout history.

To discover a treasure trove of Women’s history videos, visit our Women’s History Playlist at YouTube.

Kristin Wolfgang: Studies Weekly Spotlight

Growing up, Kristin Wolfgang didn’t dream of being a teacher. But now she doesn’t dream of any other career.

Kristin WolfgangBefore heading into the classroom, Wolfgang worked at Borders Bookstore. She heard about a part-time Kindergarten teacher position and tried it out. Her fellow teachers asked her to lead small groups in reading.

“And I was hooked,” she said in an interview with Studies Weekly.

Wolfgang has been teaching for 19 years, and feels it’s not a job, but her calling. She is currently a 5th/6th grade teacher at The Volcano School of Arts and Sciences on the Big Island of Hawaii, but also taught in Austin, Texas.

“I love teaching. I love developing personal relationships with kids and showing them that they can do better. A colleague recently told me that she sees that I accept kids where they are and give them space and confidence to improve,” she said.

That brings her joy as an educator, as well as “creating curriculum, integrating technology and introducing kids to books!”

Studies Weekly Spotlight
Kristin Wolfgang’s students work with Studies Weekly.

Of course, even after almost two decades of teaching, she still finds the career challenging. Similar to how other teachers feel, sometimes she stresses about organizing all that is asked of her.

“There are so many things we are asked to do besides just providing instruction and assessment of students. I’m always struggling to collect and report data as well as to revise and maintain my curriculum maps,” she said. “I know that one thing that causes teachers to leave the field is the difficulty of prioritizing our tasks.”

Despite this, she still loves what she does day in and out. One of the things that helps her run her classroom smoothly is Studies Weekly.

“I love Studies Weekly. The articles are engaging and rigorous, and my struggling readers can read along with the articles online. I am also able to integrate reading standards into my Social Studies lessons by using suggestions from the Teaching Supplements. Having the newspapers for the entire year helps me to stay on pace in presenting the social studies curriculum,” she said.

Wolfgang first encountered Studies Weekly after moving from Hawaii to Texas. She used various Texas grade levels there, and ordered the USA publications after moving back to Hawaii two years ago.

Studies Weekly Spotlight
Kristin Wolfgang’s students make cuneiform letters in air drying clay.

She enjoys Studies Weekly so much, in fact, that she also writes 5th and 6th grade curriculum for us. She started writing just one question at a time in 2015, and now she’s working on Teacher Supplements. She was also on the team that recently wrote the Studies Weekly K-2 leveled readers.

Wolfgang juggles a lot, but all of what she does is for the betterment of students. Texas and Hawaii may be vastly different in geography, she says, but for her, it’s all about the kids.

“Kids are kids no matter where you go. I love being with them and helping them learn,” she said.

To learn how you can use Studies Weekly Social Studies in your classroom visit studiesweekly.com.

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Studies Weekly Online PlatformHere’s a handy guide to learning how to do just about everything at studiesweekly.com/online:

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Thinking on Education: Teaching the History of Voting Rights

Students sitting at the desks of today’s classrooms are America’s next voters. They literally will be the deciders of our nation’s future.

To that end, they must understand the importance and power of voting. We educators, in partnership with their parents, are in an important position to help them appreciate this responsibility. Teaching the younger generation about their civic duty has less to do with politics and more to do with freedom of choice.

“For the nation’s democracy to function properly and for government to provide fair representation, all eligible Americans must have the opportunity to vote — and be encouraged to do so. Our collective self-rule is established and fostered through free, fair, accessible, and secure elections through which the voice of every eligible American is heard,” said Danielle Root and Liz Kennedy, of the Center for American Progress, in a July 2018 article.

Teaching the History of Voting Rights

Teaching students the history of voting rights within the United States can help them better understand the weight and sway they have in exercising this right.

Our nation’s democratic process may be an example to others, but it took many protests, movements, and the mobilization of large groups of disenfranchised residents to get where we are today. Education about the history of voting in America expands students’ minds, and gives them a greater appreciation for their own ability to share their voice.

According to research by KQED, when George Washington was elected as our first president in 1789, only 6 percent of the population could vote. This was due to land ownership laws and states’ differing voting regulations. Thus, only white male landowners could vote.

In 1856, land ownership was finally removed from voting requirements, opening the poll doors to all white men.

Black Voters

Studies Weekly vote
African Americans vote for the first time, as depicted in 1867 on the cover of Harper’s magazine. Engraving by Alfred R. Waud.

In 1868, the U.S. passed the 14th Amendment, granting citizenship to former slaves. Legislators followed up with the 15th Amendment in 1870, declaring that the right to vote could not be denied because of race. As citizens, male African Americans could legally vote.

Despite this legislation, some states enacted measures, such as literacy tests and voting taxes to subvert African Americans’ ability to register to vote. In some states, groups used violence and intimidation tactics to keep these same voters away from the polls.

These subversive efforts continued until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was passed. It made it illegal for states to impose discriminatory restrictions on who could vote. This act came after decades of African American bloodshed while exercising their given right.

Female Voters

Studies Weekly vote
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, left, and Susan B. Anthony.

Women had been trying to acquire their own right to vote since 1848. It took them more than 70 years to successfully secure that vote in 1920. Well-known early leaders in this fight — Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth — died before seeing women prevail.

Minority Voters

Despite the 14th and 15th Amendments, many minority groups in America’s history had to forge their own difficult routes to voting.

Native Americans

Though they could be considered America’s first residents, Native Americans had no voting rights within the new republic. In 1876, the Supreme Court ruled that Native Americans were not citizens as defined by the 14th Amendment and had no voting rights.

Their path to polling places took many steps.

Studies Weekly voteAfter the 1887 Dawes Act, Native Americans could obtain citizenship and the right to vote only by giving up their tribal affiliations. The Indian Naturalization Act passed three years later, and Native Americans could apply for citizenship through an application process similar to the process of immigrant naturalization.

Decades later, Native American veterans were granted citizenship after they served in the military during WWI. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 also granted citizenship to Native Americans born in the United States. But, again, many states passed laws and policies during this time to prohibit Native Americans from voting.

Finally in 1947, after Miguel Trujillo — a Native American and former Marine — successfully sued New Mexico denying his right to vote, barriers to voting started to crumble. It still took until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for this right to be guaranteed.

Asian Americans

Though they were an integral part of building America, especially in the West, Asian Americans had no citizenship rights.

Studies Weekly voteThe Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barred people of Chinese ancestry from becoming citizens. Then 40 years later, the Supreme Court ruled that people of Japanese heritage were ineligible to become naturalized citizens. A Congressional ruling in 1925 barred Filipino Americans from citizenship unless they served three years in the Navy.

Finally, in 1952, the McCarran-Walter Act granted all people of Asian ancestry the right to become citizens.

Puerto Rico and D.C.
Studies Weekly vote
La Perla, a district in Old San Juan.

Congress passed further voting rights laws in the 1970s and 1990s to guarantee better access to polls and voter registration. But today Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories still do not have full voting representation in the federal government. Stateside, those living in Washington D.C. have the right to vote for president, but do not have any representatives in Congress.

Importance of Voter Turnout

The right to vote in American elections has a long history of conflict, and students need to understand the value of making their voice heard. Voter turnout on election days is one of the most powerful ways citizens can do that. It also can be an effective path to enacting change that strengthens the rights of all citizens.

“It’s essential that all of us turn out to vote. Every vote is a building block in our democracy. The more people who vote, the stronger our system of government becomes. As a nation, we should do much better. We can do much better,” said Linda A. Klein of the American Bar Association in an October 2018 article.

As former President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

We highlight women’s contributions to our nation’s history, often during Women’s History Month, and the right to vote is an important topic. During March, and throughout the year, voting rights should be a serious study for our students who will be our next generation of leaders.

Example of the Tennessee Social Studies Curriculum

Find more primary sources and articles about voting through your Studies Weekly online platform at studiesweekly.com/online.

 

 

 


For some other great lesson plan ideas, visit NEA.org at: www.nea.org/tools/lessons/informed-voter-education

Further reading:

“Increasing Voter Participation in America,” Center for American Progress, July 11, 2018

“11 Facts about Voting,” DoSomething.org

“Why is Voting Important? — Lesson for Kids,” Chapter 2, Lesson 26, at Study.com

“Key takeaways about Latino voters in the 2018 midterm elections,” Pew Research Center, Nov. 9, 2018

“How Millennials voted this election,” Brookings Institution, Nov. 21, 2016

“Voting: A Privilege, a Duty, and a Path to a Stronger Democracy,” American Bar Association, Oct. 9, 2018

“7 Reasons You Should Vote In This Year’s Elections,” Huffington Post, Feb. 19, 2016

kidsvotingusa.org

www.growingvoters.org

New Mexico and Oklahoma Publications win 2019 TAA Awards

Studies Weekly publications continue to win awards and recognition.

The Textbook & Academic Authors Association recently announced its 2019 Textbook Award Winners and two Studies Weekly publications took top spots.

Studies Weekly Award WinningTAA awarded “Oklahoma Studies Weekly – Our State, 6th ed.” as one of just two 2019 Textbook Excellence Award Winners for K-12. This publication, in magazine or newspaper format, uses Oklahoma’s history, geography, ecology, economy, and people to introduce social studies concepts in a vibrant, engaging, and age-appropriate way.

Chief Product Officer Kim Mogilevsky,
Editor-In-Chief Monica Sherwin, and Graphic Design Manager David Hall wrote the Oklahoma publication from the ground up with 100 percent new content, as part of the state’s adoption of Studies Weekly materials.

Studies Weekly Award WinningTAA also awarded “New Mexico Studies Weekly – Our State, 1st ed.” as one of just two 2019 Most Promising New Textbook Award Winners for K-12.

This publication, in magazine or newspaper format, provides a comprehensive overview of social studies topics — including complex issues like race and ethnicity, opportunity cost, and citizen rights and responsibilities — handled in a deft and engaging manner.

Mogilevsky, Sherwin and Graphic Designer Heather Larsson created the New Mexico publication also with completely original content.

The Textbook Excellence Award recognizes excellence in current textbooks and learning materials, and the Most Promising New Textbook Award recognizes excellence in 1st edition textbooks and learning materials, according to TAA information.

“Monica and I had a blast writing and developing these. We also enjoyed collaborating with our amazing designers, Dave and Heather, and so many other team members who helped to edit, review, post, print, box and ship the publications to our schools, teachers and students,” Mogilevsky said. “Producing quality publications is a labor of love!

To see how our award-winning publications can help your students, visit store.studiesweekly.com.

Studies Weekly Awards Studies Weekly Awards

Thinking on Education: Why are Discussions about Equality Flashpoints in the Classroom?

 

Gender equality

Gender Equality.
Feminism.

Racial equalityCivil Rights.
Racial Equality.

Human Rights Issues

These are some of the topics considered “controversial” in society, on social media, and in the classroom.

But why? In today’s society — more than 150 years since the end of America’s Civil War, almost 100 years since women gained voting rights in America, and 55 years since the Civil Rights Act — why are discussions about rights and equality still flashpoints?

Though our society made these important strides forward in decades past, strongly built foundations and beliefs still rumble beneath those issues. And sadly, there are too many people still unwilling to conduct an open dialogue about these uncomfortable truths, even today.

“It’s a conversation no one ever wants to have,” explained Loki Mulholland, Studies Weekly video manager, founding member of the Studies Weekly Diversity Board, Emmy award-winning filmmaker, and speaker on race relations in America, in a February 2018 presentation at Boise State University.

But he advocates having those conversations, because these issues still affect our students and people all over the world.

Global Inequality

Globally, racial and gender equality are still under attack, explained Tendayi Achiume, special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance at the United Nations, in two separate reports to the U.N. in March 2018 and July 2018.

“From crowds of youths marching to neo‑Nazi chants in Charlottesville, Warsaw and Berlin, to the racist and xenophobic attitudes of politicians in the highest levels of office worldwide … the assault on the human dignity of millions around the world has reached alarming proportions,” she said last March.

systemic equality barriers
Mother carrying her baby on her back at the Missira neighborhood in the city of Bissau, Guinea Bissau, Feb. 6, 2018.

That is why we must still talk about equality and rights. Yes, it is sometimes scary, but we — as educators of our nation’s students — need to thoughtfully and purposefully wade into these murky and muddy issues.

“We don’t give our students enough credit. They know what is going on and it’s our job to connect the dots of what is happening today to the past, and how they fit into that picture. We should be empowering our students to make decisions and draw conclusions,” Mulholland said. “If we don’t talk about it and work towards improving inequality, then nothing is going to change. The students play a role in addressing the inequalities they see around them.”

Discussing Inequality in the Classroom

Despite the current shouting matches between current political leaders, discussions on equality and rights do not need to be divisive. And the classroom is one of the most perfect places to have these discussions.

“Young people need to understand equality and know their rights, to understand both how they should be treated, and how they should treat others. Teaching these topics creates a safe place for students to explore, discuss, challenge and form their own opinions and values,” the Equality and Human Rights Commission said in a May 2016 statement.

Beyond Inequality: Systemic Barriers

Even beyond discussions around equality, we should also teach our students about societal equity and the systemic barriers that women, people of color, and other minority groups continue to face. This idea is best defined through this image, originally created by Craig Froehle:equality and equity and systemic barriersThe true history of America includes elements of systemic racism, systemic sexism and other systemic barriers to equality and equity for all. Our society still feels the effects of those today.

Mulholland pointed out just one example of this in his Boise presentation last year. He explained that just one generation ago, African American people — many who are still alive today — received truly inadequate and inaccurate education as a result of segregation. Education — which most of us believe today is the key to opportunity — was not equal or equitable.

Equality of Opportunity

In education, we’ve advanced far since that era of history. Today, educators implement a variety of processes that reach the learner where they are, to give them the best possibly equality of outcome. But we still have more to do, as explained in Stanford University’s “Equality of Opportunity and Education” project.

The Stanford project utilized philosopher Peter Westen’s idea that “opportunity is a three-way relationship between a person, some obstacles, and a desired goal. However, a person only has an opportunity if she has a chance of achieving that goal. One cannot have an opportunity if one faces insurmountable obstacles that make it impossible to secure the goal.”

Further, “for opportunities to be equal within a group, each member of that group must face the same relevant obstacles, none insurmountable, with respect to achieving the same desirable goal.”

It’s Only Us

Just like the fence image above illustrates, ideally all Americans may all be equal under the law, but may not have a true equality of opportunity.

Unfortunately, many American residents face insurmountable obstacles because of their gender, race, religion, culture, geography, socio-economic status or other minority identification. Because of this, they cannot reach the same heights others can.

So, until our we strategically remove these barriers and biases, we must still discuss equality and rights, and listen to and believe others’ experiences.

racial equalityWe need to stop seeing these issues as revolving around “us and them” and simply revolving around “us.”

“You have to be willing to open yourself up, to get uncomfortable and go there,” Mulholland concluded.

Chop it up, Highlight it! Getting the most out of your Studies Weekly Print Editions

 

If your students are just reading our Studies Weekly Social Studies newspapers or magazines each week, they are missing out on so many other experiences.

Studies Weekly How To
Student cutting and pasting articles from Studies Weekly papers.

We love our products so much and we love the teachers who help create our lessons. We also love coming up with new classroom strategies for using our publications.

You can see just one of the many ideas for fully utilizing them at http://pages.studiesweekly.com/how-to.

How to Use Studies WeeklyThe example there shows you how students can use the Studies Weekly Reading Label Challenge.

In this activity, your students: highlight facts, timelines, sequence, informational texts, main ideas and supporting details, and identify Tier 3 vocabulary words.

You can also see how to create mini ELA lessons that ask your students to identify pronouns and verbs.

Fully Using Studies Weekly

We design our print products to be very hands-on and fully consumable.

(And, no, we don’t mean your students will enjoy munching on them for lunch!)

How to use studies weekly
Student cutting out images and articles from Studies Weekly print publication.

When we say consumable, we mean cutting out our images for a 3D Graphic Organizer or an interactive notebook. Or highlighting and discussing facts versus opinions, the main idea, or point of view in our informational texts. Or using our Primary Source Analysis Tool to observe, reflect and question the source right there on the paper.

How to use Studies Weekly
Student cutting and pasting with scissors and glue for a pop-up activity.

On every weekly publication, we include learning activities your students can do right on the publication — vocabulary crosswords, writing prompts, inquiry strategies and ‘Think and Reviews’.

But that’s not all.

Professional Development on Demand

Our Professional Development on Demand page highlights even more ways to use and consume your Studies Weekly publications. You can explore those at studiesweekly.com/online/pdod.

Plus, we share ideas with our teachers here at our blog. Here’s some examples:

And if these aren’t enough ideas, we have a great Facebook community of teachers who share their own Studies Weekly projects and lesson plans as well.

But wait, there’s more!

(Sorry, yes we know we sound like an obnoxious infomercial).

Studies Weekly Online

Through the Studies Weekly online platform students can:
Through the Studies Weekly online platform, teachers can learn:
How to Use Studies Weekly
Student cutting up Studies Weekly for a Pop-up activity.

 

All these tools and resources are available through each teacher and student account on studiesweekly.com/online.

Your online access is free with your subscription to Studies Weekly.