Kicking Off Inquiry to Action (ItAG) Study Groups

December 31, 2009 0 comments

Chicago's Teachers for Social Justice is excited to launch Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs)-- an opportunity for educators and their allies to build community, access new resources, and link social justice with classroom practices. ItAGs are small groups of educators, parents, students, activists, teaching artists, and community members who meet to share experiences, dialogue about readings, exchange ideas and develop plans of actions. The goal of these ItAGs is to pursue a common inquiry on a social justice topic and create an action around this area of study.

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CURRICULUM: Understanding Social Systems through the Olympics Bid

This exhibit will present material on a student action-research project around the Olympics created for a History course. It's geared towards helping students understanding social and economic systems, events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of Illinois, the United States and other nations.

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Social Justice Movie Night: Avatar in 3D

December 15, 2009 0 comments

Both Teachers for Social Justice (TSJ-Chicago) and Chicago Youth Initiating Change (CYIC) invite you on a movie date to see:

AVATAR in 3D Film & Discussion
Saturday, January 23 6pm showtime
AMC River East 21 322 East Illinois Street
Chicago, IL

TBA. James Cameron's "Avatar" tells of the mystic, nature-loving Na'vi – tall blue creatures who inhabit the planet Pandora and must contend with humans intent on grabbing its resources. The film uses fantastic 3D technology, and aside from it's entertainment value, also prods discussion around capitalism, imperialism, occupation, eco-destruction, ableism, dissertion, resistance and traditional Hollywood race narratives. It has earned more than $1.1 billion worldwide since its release last month.

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Learn From Honduras: Teachers On the Front Lines!

December 5, 2009

Saturday, December 5
5:30pm - 7:00pm
1901 S. LOOMIS St., Chicago

* Hear from our very own TSJ delegates who went to Honduras with the La Voz de los de Abajo delegation in October...as they share in depth what TEACHERS are doing on the front lines of the Honduran People's Movement. To include video, photos & audio with Honduran teacher activists.
* Update on the struggles of the Honduran people for constitutional democracy!

All are welcome- please join in.

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2009 Teaching for Justice Curriculum Fair Recap

November 29, 2009 0 comments

Thanks everyone for coming to the Teaching for Justice Curriculum Fair and adding to the vibrancy of the TSJ community.

The energy, vibe, conversation, sharing that took place was really inspiring and we're so grateful to all of the event organizers, educators, presenters, youth workers, administrators, cultural workers, activists, parents, students and young folks who came out. The critical mass of volunteers was truly inspiring.

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Curriculum Fair Talkback & How To Get Involved in TSJ

November 28, 2009 2 comments

Curriculum Fair Talk Back and & How to Get Involved in TSJ: 4:00pm - 5:30pm

4:00 - 5:30pm
1901 S. LOOMIS St.(corner of 19th street in Pilsen)

* Help evaluate the Currculum Fair, we'd love to hear your thoughts & stories.
* Get involved in TSJ and planning the Spring calendar: Inquiry to Action Groups, Social Events, Movie Nights, Forums, Anti-Renaissance 2010 Actions, and more.
* Check out video highlights from the fair's speakers.

CURRICULUM FAIR EVALUATION FORM: We value reflections and would love if you'd take a few minutes to respond- click below::


Thank you! Read the Full Story


November 20, 2009 0 comments

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Teaching for Social Justice from the Ground Up

Teaching for Social Justice from the Ground Up from Teachers for Social Justice on Vimeo.

We are very excited that this November 20, 2010 will be the 10th Annual Teaching for Social Justice Curriculum Fair, co-sponsored by Rethinking Schools. This year's theme is "Another Education is Possible, Another World is Necessary!"

In "science fair" format, and completely grassroots volunteer-organized, the Curriculum Fair will provide over 600 educators, activists, parents, youth & community members with a space to share curricula, resources, and inspiration. We'll be making friends & building relationships, exploring ideas & projects, connecting our histories & struggles. All in a spirit of social justice and education for liberation.
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CURRICULUM: Using Maps to Explore Place Awareness Through Abstract Design

November 14, 2009 0 comments

DESCRIPTION: Even though students may live in a city, where the people they encounter each day come from all over, they might still be unfamiliar with any neighborhood outside their own. This lesson seeks to open the door to the exploration of Chicago neighborhoods and the unfamiliar through the use of mapping in abstract art. Students will explore the idea of creating artwork from the lines, shapes, and design of neighborhood maps. Students will select two neighborhood cutouts at random in addition to their own neighborhood, to trace and create an abstract design, exploring different techniques with oil pastels. They will utilize the elements and principles of line, shape, balance, and pattern in their composition. In the end, students’ compositions will connect the three different cutout neighborhood shapes into one cohesive design, allowing them to contemplate how these different shapes and neighborhoods exist in the same space. 

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Exploring the Roots of Youth Violence

November 13, 2009

A Youth-Led Action Research Curriculum Guide

Call for Curriculum Submissions

The Chicago Freedom School, Project NIA and Teachers for Social Justice are partnering to develop a youth-led action research curriculum guide in order to contribute to the ongoing efforts by young people and their adult allies to analyze the root causes of youth violence and to create local solutions.
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TSJ Extends Solidarity to Honduras

October 29, 2009

In October 2009 two members of TSJ traveled to Honduras with the La Voz Human Rights Delegation
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TSJ Solidarity Sendoff for the Honduras Delegation

October 3, 2009

Three months ago, U.S.-trained generals infamous for participation in the famous 1980s military death squads interrupted constitutional order in Honduras through a military coup d'état against democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya. In the wake of widespread reports of human rights violations and amidst a climate of intense repression and strong social resistance, La Voz de los de Abajo and Casa Morazan are organizing a solidarity delegation to Honduras next month. Teachers for Social Justice and others have been invited to send representatives and we will be sending two. You are invited to come learn about the resistance, express your solidarity with the people of Honduras, and celebrate the departure of this powerful Chicago-based delegation.

Solidarity Sendoff Dinner
Saturday, October 3rd
5:30 to 7:30 pm

Dinner will be followed by art, card writing & discussion, and feature photography of classrooms in Honduras. The celebration is also a fundraiser to cover costs of the delegation. As such, we're asking for a donation of $5 to $20. Dinner and dessert will be served!

Thanks for your support and we hope to see you there! Read the Full Story

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Protest School Closings!

October 2, 2009 0 comments

Wednesday, Feb 25, is the Board meeting where the Board will vote on the school closings. That's the big event...before that, Tuesday night is a candlelight vigil at the Board, 125 S. Clark St.

Keep watching for updates as plans come together!

The struggle continues! Read the Full Story

TSJ Movie Night - The Class

September 19, 2009

Teachers for Social Justice presents...

-- The Class --
Saturday, Sept. 19
Decima Musa
1901 S. Loomis (in Pilsen, at 19th st.)

The Palme D'Or film from the Cannes film fest this year (equivalent to an Oscar), from France, about a multicultural Parisian classroom...a GREAT film, will provoke a LOT of thought/discussion...

Here's the film's website, check it out and watch the trailer! http://www.sonyclassics.com/theclass/

PS--It's free...but we do ask a donation for the folks at Decima Musa, and they do serve food and drink. Read the Full Story

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Curriculum: Visual & Cultural Backgrounds through the Art of Robert Grober

September 5, 2009 0 comments

The contemporary artist Robert Gober gives subversive meaning to wallpaper in an installation at the AIC.

Using juxtaposition and repetition, he turns the racist history that makes up America’s cultural background into a visual background. My lesson invites high school students to consider how to make their American cultural background visible by using Gober’s wallpaper form to juxtapose and repeat images from the mainstream news media after editing them.

Curriculum Writer: Katie M.

Level: High School

Area: Visual Art

Download this Curriculum:

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Forum On Restorative Justice and the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Pipeline

May 29, 2009

EDUCATORS! Are you interested in restorative justice? Alternatives to the "schoolhouse to jailhouse" pipeline? Tired of seeing student unjustly and overly punished? Wanting to know about peer juries and how to make them work? Then join us THIS FRIDAY

May 29, 2009
5:00pm - 7:00pm
Decima Musa
1901 S. Loomis Street.
Chicago, IL

Teachers for Social Justice is hosting a forum on Restorative Justice and the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Pipeline. An experienced and expert panel of community organizers, educators and youth will be discussing the impact of alternative methods of discipline, how such methods have proven to reduce school violence, and the relationship between education and incarceration. Following the panel discussion, our panelists will lead breakout groups to work with forum attendees to set up restorative justice practices in their schools and communities, to learn more about breaking the link between the schoolhouse and the jailhouse, and to gain valuable resources.

You are invited to attend this unique and powerful event--it's open to

anyone and everyone so spread the word! Join us! Read the Full Story


Calling Teachers for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

March 24, 2009 0 comments

Update from Teachers for Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

Hello TSJ friends,

We just got back from the 250,000 Immigration Reform March in DC. Needless to say, I'm exhausted. However, I've come back reenergized!

Illinois Teachers and Educators! Here is your opportunity to advocate for your undocumented students. Teachers know first-hand the impact that the broken immigration system has on our students. Undocumented students deserve to have an opportunity at a real future!

We are currently working on a teacher-led action on April 10th to pressure Congress into passing Immigration Reform this year.  Let’s use the momentum from this weekend’s historic march, get yourself and any other teachers you know to the table. Our work isn’t over yet!

Let YOUR actions speak louder than words!

Email us to get involved: teachers4cir@gmail.com

Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=343369922786

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TSJ Movie Night: Life & Debt

March 19, 2009 0 comments

In the wake of the aftermath in Haiti and Chile, please join TSJ for a movie night filled with reflection, solidarity, and positive energy. 
TSJ Movie Night: Life & Debt

March 27th, 2010
Decima Musa, 1901 S. Loomis (pilsen area)
Chicago, IL

Tourists flock to Jamaica to escape realities as it is known for its sandy beaches, laid back life style, and crystal blue water.  However, the people of Jamaica can't escape the impact of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank in their daily lives.

The feature film 
Life and Debt tells the story of the day to day struggles of individual Jamaicans whose livelihood is determined by U.S. and other foreign economic agencies.  Unfortunately, this story is not true just for Jamaica; the parallel effects of structural adjustment are astounding and seen in Haiti and beyond. 
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Inquiry to Action Groups Finale Event

March 8, 2009 0 comments

Come to learn about the work of our 5 dynamic ItAGs:

* Education for Liberation Movement
* Art Education & Social Justice
* Hip Hop & Social Justice
* Early Childhood Education & Social Justice
* New Teachers for Social Justice

Saturday, March 13, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Decima Musa
1901 S. Loomis

Be a part of the process for making the ItAGs more sustainable. Feel free to join us for a drink & a conversation. Read the Full Story


Schools Close Despite Student Walkouts and Mass Protests

February 28, 2009

There was a huge, defiant protest of parents, students, and teachers at the Board meeting February 27th, 2009. Around 150 students walked out of Orr High School and picketed in front of the Board; buses and vans came from other schools. Some TSJ teachers took off work and some brought students to the protest.

Congratulations! Despite carefully prepared testimony and strong evidence, school protests, door to door organizing, petitions, and courageous stands by families, students, communities, and teachers, the Board went ahead and voted its plan to close, consolidate and reconstitute 18 schools. Abbott Elementary School parents were victorious in stopping CPS's plan to close down their school which is the heart of the Wentworth Gardens housing community. Congratulations to Abbott parents and staff for this important victory!!

Two things are clear:
1) There is a large outpouring of opposition and many strong parent and community leaders with the clarity and will to fight for quality education for all children in their neighborhoods. They are an inspiration and the base of a city-wide movement to take back Chicago public schools.

2) CPS administration has acted with complete disregard for the will of the community and all evidence contesting their plan. The "hearings" were a complete sham. Jobs in "turn-around" schools run by AUSL were already posted and postings closed by Feb. 20, 7 days before the board was supposed to weigh the evidence and make a decision about the schools. Parents at one school were told their school would be phased out even though officials had not looked at the evidence they presented. The board meeting was worse. Although we arrived at 6:30 AM they wouldn't let us sign up to speak until 8AM; they "reserved" exactly half the seats for CPS staff and only opened one overflow room to keep the public out of the public hearing. They kept out the hundreds of others who came to oppose the board's decisions even though there were empty seats in both rooms. They arrogantly disrespected the parents and students who spoke against the board's decision. Neighborhood schools are being replaced with magnet schools, disenfranchising communities of color and handing over their schools to gentrify neighborhoods and/or save the board money.

TSJ is working with an emerging coalition that includes Pilsen Alliance, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Save Senn, Midsouth Education Association, Blocks Together, parent groups at schools, and other community groups. Our common message is: Moratorium on all school closings until there can be an independent study of the effects on students and school communities. School decisions should be determined by the school community.

Next steps:
*Strengthen and expand a principled coalition for equitable and quality education in the hands of communities. Define what this means and develop a protracted plan of unified action.


*Build a campaign for an elected school board and the end of running schools as businesses for business. We need schools of social justice. Read the Full Story


Schools Affected (2009)

February 22, 2009

Las Casas Occupational - closed (don't want to renew the lease, building not in good shape) - students will go to home schools
South Chicago Elementary (under-enrolled), students going to home school
Peabody Elem 1440 W Augusta - receiving schools Ogden, Talcott, Lozano

Carpenter - receiving schools Ogden, Talcott, Lozano--PROBABLY SHIFTED TO PHASE OUT
Nia Foundation -
Princeton - students go to home schools

Abbott - consolidated into Hendrix
Schiller - consolidated into Jenner
Medill - consolidated into Smith-Joyner
Global Vision consolidated into New Millenium
Davis Developmental Center 91st Jeffery - will consolidate with Hughes into new building being built for Hughes (which burned down)

Phase out
Key - Ellington receiving
Lathrop - receiving schools Johnson and Lawndale
Hamilton - receiving Blaine, Burley, Audubon
Best Practice
Reed - receiving Banneker Parker and Nicholson

Johnson 1420 S. Albany
Bethune 3030 N, Lawndale
Holmes - 955 W. Garfield

Fenger HS
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Research Reports Support Moratorium on School Closings

February 21, 2009

Two studies were released on Tuesday Feb 17th at a GEM press conference. They can be found below at the Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education website. The first critiques CPS school closing criteria, examines patterns of gentrification and school closings, and has three case studies of schools to be closed (turn-around, phased out). The second analyzes ACT scores of charter and neighborhood high schools, and looks at differences in the student bodies.

This report provides data that can be used to examine Chicago Public Schools plan to close, consolidate, phase out or turn-around 22 schools announced January 16, 2009. This report builds on the framework and analyses of the Data and Democracy research paper released February 2008.
February 2008
Paper #1: Examining CPS' plan to close, consolidate 11 schools and turn-around 8 schools

Available for dowload in PDF*

The report provides data that can be used to examine the Chicago Public School district's plan to close, consolidate and turn-around several schools. Announced January 24, 2008, the plan - if approved - is to be implemented following a decision made by the CPS board at its February meeting. CPS announced it would use the turn-around model to address chronic under-performance in 8 elementary and high schools and relocations, phase-outs, consolidations, and closings to address underenrollment in 11 elementary schools. Data in this report show these schools are primarily in communities of color experiencing gentrification or rapidly changing demographics. Read the Full Story


HB 363: Moratorium on School Closings

Rep. Cynthia Soto's HB 0363 putting a one-year moratorium on school closings PASSED the House Education committee on Thursday Feb19th...an important step in the process! It next goes to the House floor, then to the Senate.

GEM (Grassroots Education Movement) people (including parents) came from Chicago and met w/ reps yesterday, then a number of people testified this morning at the committee meeting. A partial victory!
See the press release from Designs for Change, a GEM member.


State Rep Cynthia Soto (4th Legislative District) has introduced a bill that would (1) place a one-year moratorium on school closings, turnarounds, phaseouts, and consolidations; (2) establish a Joint School Facilities Subcommittee consisting of 3 members from both the State House and State Senate Education Committees; and (3) institute an equitable process for school openings, closings, repairs, turnarounds, phaseouts, and consolidations with wide community involvement, which would be in effect once the moratorium ends. [The bill]

Below are the 17 House Co-Sponsors of House Bill 363.  This large number of co-sponsors reflects the work of the GEM coalition, affected schools, and Representative Soto herself:

Luis Arroyo - Karen A. Yarbrough - Sara Feigenholtz - Maria Antonia Berrios, Marlow H. Colvin, William Davis, Paul D. Froehlich, Annazette Collins, Elizabeth Hernandez, LaShawn K. Ford, Esther Golar, Deborah Mell, Arthur L. Turner, Michael K. Smith, Thomas Holbrook and Monique D. Davis

The more we can add to this list, the stronger the momentum will be to pass the bill. Please help by CALLING your state rep on this point. Soto's press release which has "talking points" you can use.

To find the State Representative for your school address or home address, go to: http://civicfootprint.org.  Enter the address and all the elected officials for that address will be displayed. Thanks to Don Moore and Designs for Change for working on the legislative piece.
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Curriculum: The Whale's Stomach & Environmental Justice

February 5, 2009 0 comments

Preview: The bag of items represents the stomach contents of a dying, 28-foot female sperm whale found on a beach in North Carolina in December, 1992. Veterinarians concluded that none but the smallest pieces of plastic could have passed through the whale’s intestinal tract, and that the garbage was a large contributing factor to, if not the entire reason for, the whale’s death. It is assumed that sperm whales either mistake plastic for food, or, perhaps more likely, go after squid that are hiding in and around the garbage and accidentally swallow the plastic as well. Finding plastic in whales is uncommon, but this is not an isolated incident. Most whales who die do so off shore and are not found by people.

Level: Grade 4 and up
Time: 15-45 minutes
Relevant subjects: Science, Language Arts, and Social Studies

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Curriculum: Math & the Vanishing Rainforests

 A discussion of the importance of Rainforests and how we can analyze their health.

Writer: Pamela Krausz, Institute for Humane Education
Grades: 6 through 8
Areas: Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies

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Curriculum: More than a Label: Analyizing Attitudes & Practicing Tolerance

This activity inspires students to think about their own areas of bigotry and to identify how we develop our attitudes about others, and it empowers them to take action to reduce bigotry in their own lives and in society.

Curriculum Writers: Amy Morley, Kristina Hulvershorn, M. Ed., Institute for Humane Education

Grades: 9 & up
Time: 90 minutes
Relevant Subjects: Social Studies and Language Arts

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Curriculum: Analyzing Advertising

From the Institute for Humane Education and The Power and Promise of Humane Education.

Curriculum Writers: Amy Morley, Kristina Hulvershorn, M. Ed., Institute for Humane Education
Level: 5 and up
Time: 45-60 minutes

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Curriculum: Using Visual Arts to Explore Local Community

A visual arts lesson plan that allows students to explore their connection to their local community. For very young students to begin to foster a sense of community engagement and social justice, an important first step is recognizing one’s connection and relationship with the immediate community around them.

Using collage artist Bryan Collier’s book Uptown as a starting point, students will study the way that Collier integrates painting, photographic images, and other mixed media into collages that emphasize and celebrate the local cultural heritage of the neighborhood of Harlem. In similar process, students will choose a personally meaningful image from a wide selection of photos of places of interest from around their own local community, create a collage, and write a memory about their community. The exhibit will provide an explanation of the lesson, student work, and guidelines for how educators in other disciplines could use a similar process in their classroom.

Curriculum Writer: Annie S.
Level: Early Elementary
Area: Visual Art

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Curriculum: Examining Conflict Histories from Multiple Perspectives

The content focuses on the conflict surrounding labor unions from the perspectives of: the government, management, pro-union laborers, and anti-union laborers.

It should be noted that this was classwork for a college social studies methods class and taught to college-level peers.  The lesson would need to be adapted for younger students.  

Writers: Stephanie D., Gina C., and Sarah W.
Level: Elementary
Area: Social Studies

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Curriculum: Unit Plan: What Young People Should Know Before Joining the Military

“What Young People Should Know Before Joining the Military” is a unit designed for a 10th grade US History class. The historical component revolves around imperialism and the Spanish-American War. A contemporary connection is made through a look at imperialism and the Iraq War. The final project for the unit consists of group presentations on what CPS students should know about the military before they consider joining. The presentations were videotaped and then edited and compiled to make a 15-minute video that was posted on YouTube.

Writer: J. Cyriac M.
Level Grade 10
Area: U. S. History

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Class-produced Videos:

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Curriculum: Anti-Hate Campaign: Teaching Anti-Hate Using the Holocaust as a Lens

What is hate? Introducing the word HATE:

To begin our study about standing up against hate, the students and I brainstormed words and situations that we associated with the word HATE. We created a web on large chart paper that still hangs in the back of the room. From this discussion, my students mentioned ideas around gang fights in their communities, violence on the street and bullying in school. We talked about how hate can escalate into violence and how people get involved in violent acts that are fueled with hate.

The next day, the students were broken into groups to define vocabulary around hate and intolerance. The students created their own definitions and then created posters to depict the meanings. These posters to posted around the classroom for reference throughout the entire unit. Vocabulary used: Intolerance, discrimination, prejudice, axis powers, allied powers, genocide, segregation, and holocaust.
Day by day: How 5th graders began to understand how hate can escalate…

Compiled by Alissa L. and Liav S.

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Curriculum: Unit Plan: Realistic Fiction: Characters Just Like Me

Unit Description: This unit will be based off the Teachers College Writing Unit for Realistic Fiction and Reading Unit for Character Study. Students will explore their own identities. They will have multiple opportunities to embrace those identities, which promotes positive self-esteem. They will also learn how those identities can be the source of tension in various situations. Students will write Realistic Fiction pieces with characters that share similar identities to them. They will feature a situation where a particular identity is the cause of conflict.

Compiled by Alissa L. and Liav S., Brooklyn

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Resource: Community Building Activities

Most teachers spend some portion of the school year, especially early in the year, doing community building activities. Many of these activities are centered on getting to know each other. We believe firmly in “going deeper.” This includes developing students’ sense of self-love, acceptance and understanding of classmates, and strengthening listening skills in order to promote comfortable, safe learning spaces.

Compiled by: Liav S., Brooklyn
Download this Resource

Sample activities include:

CHAIN OF STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES – Students use sentence strips. On one side of the sentence strip the student writes one of his/her strengths (academic or personal). On the other side of the sentence strip the student writes one of his/her weaknesses. Students share these in a circle. As they share, students use a stapler to create a link in the paper chain. After each person shares, the class watches as the chain grows. The teacher explains how each person has strengths AND weaknesses. Teacher guides students to notice how flimsy a single strip of paper is compared to the chain. Teacher emphasizes that this year students do not have to feel alone when working on their weakness but rather that they have a support network. Our students frequently discuss their strengths and weaknesses openly and freely ask for help from their classmates. Our classroom environment is noticeably stronger because of these discussions around strengths and weaknesses.

STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES READ ALOUDS – Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patrica Palacco, “Raymond’s Run” by Toni Cade Bambara, found in the book of short stories called America Street, and Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick are valuable texts that support the students’ acceptance of their own and others’ strengths and weaknesses.

WEB OF COMMONALITIES – Sitting in a circle on the rug, one student starts by saying something about him/herself. Student then passes a ball of yarn to another person who shares that commonality. Students see how these commonalties make a web. They see how interconnected they are as well as how strong and intricate the community is with each and every commonality. The students really enjoy this activity! Later a bulletin board was created to visually show the activity and commonalities. Students, teachers, administrators, and parents loved looking at the bulletin board and began to see the values we are emphasizing in our classrooms.

CLASS BILL OF RIGHTS – New York State begins 5th grade Social Studies with studying local, state, and federal government. Students review concepts government, democracy, basic rights, values, and documents through creating their own Class Bill of Rights. Students also review the Bill of Rights and the NYC Dept. of Education’s Student Bill of Rights. Most classrooms create some sort of classroom rules. Our goals were to connect classroom rules to the mandated Social Studies curriculum AND establish strong communities.

IALAC – Lesson taken from Open Minds to Equality by Nancy Schniedewind and Ellen Davidson. Students learn what it means to feel “lovable and capable.” Students create a paper IALAC and slowly rip it apart while reading about a boy’s bad day. After ripping the paper IALAC, students are asked to put it back together. They call out “but I can’t!” or “it won’t work!” Explain to students that once somebody’s IALAC can be broken it takes a lot of tape, and love, to repair it. Reference students’ IALACs and characters’ IALACs throughout the year. An “IALAC” feels tangible to students whereas discussing self-worth and self-confidence is abstract. Students use this term throughout the year at school and home. They feel comfortable saying that their IALAC feels “low” or “broken.”

WRITING ABOUT OUR IALACS – Our mandated literacy curriculum (the Reading and Writing Project from Teacher’s College at Columbia University) requires that students begin the year by writing Personal Narratives. We viewed this Personal Narrative Unit as an opportunity to build our community and accomplish our academic goals. Students had to feel safe to share these stories to partnerships and have others read them. Going through the Writing Process with an important, personal story was motivating for students. This also emphasized that authors write with purpose and often reveal themselves in their writing.

ACTIVE LISTENING – During the first week of school, students created a Class Bill of Rights. The students chose to include “actively listen” as one of their agreements. A few weeks into the school year it became evident that students did not have a clear, or common, vision of what it meant to “actively listen.” These words had no meaning to them and therefore were not following the rule they had created.

Calling out is a common issue during classroom lessons. In order to bring the students’ attention to this issue, try this activity from ___________. Begin by having the students stand in a circle. Present them with the challenge of counting to 10. There is no set order of who speaks and if there are two or more people who speak at once, the class starts again at one. Students are excited with the challenge, and start the game strong! Their concentration is clear! Then, students quickly begin to get stuck around 2 or 3. Stop the students to discuss why this is happening. Students explain that their classmates are “getting too excited,” “want to speak REALLY badly,” “forgot the rules,” or “feel the rules are too easy and don’t want to follow them” to name a few. Teacher then explains how these same things are happening in the classroom during lessons. Students are forgetting the rules or feel they were too easy and therefore don’t have to follow them. Students see this connection and it serves as a review of classroom rules and expectations. Play this game during transitions moments throughout the year and the students rise to the challenge! Once they get to 10, push them toward higher numbers!

Students also participated in a simulation activity demonstrating the significance of “not listening.” Lesson taken from http://www.experiential-learning-games.com/listeninggames.html. Students then worked in pairs to describe Active Listening, its importance, and the danger of “not listening.” As a class, we constantly discuss how listening often seems so easy and effortless but it is actually quite difficult and is a skill that needs to be developed. Students were exceptionally responsive to our activities and constantly refer to it. Students enthusiastically decided to embark on a journey of developing this skill and wanted to start an Active Listening Campaign at our school. Students have discussed ideas such as an Active Listening art installation for other students to walk by in the hallway, offering Active Listening workshops to other classes, and creating public service announcements.

“I CAUGHT YOU” JAR – Students fill out strips of paper where they can compliment a classmate on something wonderful they saw them doing. Students write things like “thank you for playing with me at recess” or “you made my IALAC feel big by explaining the math problem to me.” Once a week, the teacher pulls out three slips to read aloud to the class. Once the jar is full, all the slips are handed out to the recipients even if they have not been read. Our students look forward to this each week. They really enjoy complimenting each other and building up their classmates’ IALACs.

COMMUNITY MEETINGS – Students participate in weekly Community Meetings. This is a forum for students to bring issues to the community that are negatively impacting the classroom culture (i.e. bullying, classroom jobs not being fulfilled, teasing, stealing). The teacher or students may act as facilitators and must help resolve the issue. These serve as means to deliberately practice Active Listening and participate in democratic problem solving.

Also shared by Liav:

Children’s Books We LOVE!

· Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
· America Street: A Multicultural Anthology of Stories by Anne Mazer
· Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
· Keep Your Ear on the Ball by Genevieve Petrillo and Lea Lyon
· Crow Boy by Taro Yashima
· Leon’s Story by Leon Walter Tillage and Susan L. Roth
· Iqbal by Francesco D’Adamo
· Fire From the Rock by Sharon Drape
· A Taste of Colored Water by by Matt Faulkner
· Esperanza Rising
· Harvesting Hope
· Si Se Puede! Yes We Can! Janitor Strike in L.A. by Diana Cohn
· The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco
· Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
· Luba, the Angel at Bergen Belsen by Luba Tryszynska-Frederick
· I Never Saw Another Butterfly by Hana Volavkova
· Anne Frank: Behind the Diary by Rian Verhoeven, Ruud Van der Rol, Tony Langham, and Plym Peters
· The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse
· Letters to Rifka
· Hip Hop Speaks to Children

Teacher Resources we LOVE!

Rethinking Columbus
Open Minds to Equality
Global Exchange Fair Trade Cocoa Unit and Chocolate Book




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Curriculum: Movement and Storytelling in Art

Movement is a powerful means of expression, and many artists have made
attempts to capture the feel of motion in their artwork. To get students to begin to
think about movement in their daily lives, specifically on their way to school (the
kinds of transportation used, the kinds of things they see in motion on their way,
and even the path they take through their neighborhood), and in preparation to
be thinking about puppet performance later in the semester, students will be
asked to engage themselves in studying various kinds of motion through
performing and line drawings to better their understanding of how to create the
illusion of movement, and how movement is involved in their own lives and in the

Curriculum Writer: Joshua R.

Level: Early Elementary

Area :Visual Art

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Traducir en Espanol

February 2, 2009 0 comments

Haga click empezar en Espanol Read the Full Story


Teachers Workshop on Youth Activism through SNCC

January 31, 2009 0 comments

Register now for an upcoming workshop for educators entitled “Teaching Youth Activism through the History of SNCC" co-sponsored by Teachers for Social Justice and the Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council. The workshop will examine youth activism through the history of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). By using stategies such as sit-ins and boycotts and launching campaigns like Freedom Rides and Freedom Summer, SNCC was a model for youth-led social change and one of the major organizational players in the Modern Civil Rights Movement.

Saturday, February 6, 10am-4pm
Thursday, February 11, 9am-3pm
Saturday, March 6, 10am-4pm 

Download Teaching Youth Activism – Flyer

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CURRICULUM: Translating Poetry into Imagery through Collage

DESCRIPTION: This project was inspired by poetry and the illustrations from the book, “A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams” by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet. The book is about the story of William Carlos and how he became a poet. Melissa took words from the poetry and created her illustrations. The purpose of this lesson is to give students skills for visually interpreting the worlds of others through poetry.

Curriculum Writer: Luthando M.
GRADE LEVEL: Secondary school

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CURRICULUM: Food Access & Food Justice

During the summer of 2009  thirty-five youth participated in a summer internship with the Umoja Community Builders (CB) Program.  CB is a rigorous, holistic program which engages youth in meaningful community change work while simultaneously developing their self awareness and professional skills.  Thirty-five students worked as interns, working 22.5 hours per week for 6 weeks.   

CB 2009 focused on the issue of food deserts and food justice in North Lawndale.  The trajectory of the CB curriculum was to begin by understanding food access as a problem, move from food access being a problem to an issue, research the issue of food access in North Lawndale and finally analyze and present research findings to stakeholders.   In the CB internship, a large focus was put on group work, critical thinking, and problem solving.  Once a week, CB interns worked with our partner, Free Spirit Media,  on creating a short film that documented their experience and work on food justice.

Each day of the internship consisted of multiple activities aimed at moving youth through the trajectory described above.  Attached are examples of two days of curriculum from the understanding food access as a problem unit of CB.  When teaching our interns about food access we engaged them through story telling and simulation activities, understanding that these methodologies were critical in making the issue of food access relevant and personalized for our interns.   Our curriculum is heavily based in dialogue, discussion, and reflection thereby creating a space for our interns to tell the stories of theirs and others’ communities. 

The attached curriculums are in draft form and pulled from the larger trajectory we were working within this summer. We have tried our best to pull out relevant activities that are adaptable to other settings.   It is our hope that the ideas and concepts behind these pieces of curriculum will both provide concrete activities you can do with your youth around food justice as well as inspire you to adapt and create new tools for teaching your youth about food justice.   We are happy to share other pieces of our curriculum with you. 

We also encourage you to take a look at our blog at www.umojacb.blogspot.com and our video on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RM7t132j0Hg

Curriculum Writers: Zarah C.,  William W., and Ilana Z.
Level: High School
Area: Social Science, Social Research

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CURRICULUM: Fulfill the Dream and Cultivating Youth Voice

The Good Life Organization, working in partnership with The Firehouse and community arts center, and Social Justice High School has developed a curriculum entitled Fulfill The Dream that focuses on building bridges in communities for the purpose of aiding youth in the discover and cultivation of their “voices”. This program teaching youth to develop a critical media literacy and understanding of their world, while also giving them room to use the arts to dream and use their voices to dictate what changes are possible. This program, which was piloted in LA in 2008, helped to bring the community together in Wilmington and put together a Hip-hop Revival which created an atmosphere for gang leaders to dialogue and agree towards working for peace. This program has currently adapted so that youth and adults in Lawndale can begin to assess their assets and creatively problem solve some of their communal issues together.

This workshop is meant to get youth to critically think about what sacrifices have been
made to get them to where they are today, where they want to be, and how they will
overcome challenges to get to where they want to be. It will further develop the ideas from
the last session regarding what they believe about reality and fantasy. In addition, it will
help youth begin considering what kind of legacy they wish to leave. Encourage youth to
consider challenges in their lives, and in the world that they are concerned about and how
might they overcome challenges and help find solutions.

Curriculum Writer: Roberto R.
Level: 7th - 12th grade
Area: Social Studies, English/Literature, Life Skills/ Social and Emotional Learning

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CURRICULUM: Exploring the Meaning of the Fist through Art

January 30, 2009 0 comments

DESCRIPTION: The everyday life of our urban high school students is often overlooked in the public school classroom.  These experiences are the very places where students are developing a sense of self and their own perspectives in relation to their cultural, social, and political environments.   Moreover, bringing the everyday into the classroom is a critical and necessary form of pedagogy.  In this lesson plan, students will utilize maps of Chicago while exploring the range of meanings that come along with the Fist, a hand gesture often associated with power and strength.  Inspired by local Little Village artist Antonio Martinez, the students will incorporate their own fists into a sculpture that will in turn become a collective installation.  During this process, students will interpret Martinez’s use of fists in his artwork and discuss how this hand form can communicate a range of things in various contexts. The students are also encouraged to explore what the fist means to them and relate this to their own life experience.  This is a great opportunity for students to reflect on and connect their own lives, culture, and urban environments to an art project.  
GRADE LEVEL:  high school (grades 9)
TIMELINE: one 55-minute period

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CURRICULUM: Investigating Sweatshops

Students Will Be Able To:
- Explain reasons why sweatshop labor exists.
- List some the problems associated with sweatshops in the U.S. and abroad.
- Contrast their own lives with the lives of sweatshop laborers.
- Suggest ways to help end sweatshop labor.

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Curriculum by Heart Read the Full Story

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CURRICULUM: Circle of Compassion, Food Justice

Students Will Be Able To:
1. Define the term factory farm.

2. Empathize with the feelings of factory farmed animals.

3. Identify some laws that protect companion animals (like dogs and cats) and endangered animals, but exclude farmed animals.

4. Identify some key differences in factory farms and family farms.

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CURRICULUM: Endangered Species & Environmental Issues

Students Will Be Able To:
  • List the causes, consequences, and ways to address the problems of endangered species, habitat destruction, global warming, and pollution.
  • Relate a specific example of the consequences of allowing trash to enter our oceans.
Curriculum Writer: HEART
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CURRICULUM: Heart - Understanding Stereotypes

Students Will Be Able To:

  • Recognize and discuss some stereotypes and prejudices that they may hold. 
  • Understand that stereotypes are often wrong and can be hurtful to others.

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CURRICULUM: Are You Sold? Understanding Advertising

Students Will Be Able To:
  • Recognize the ubiquity of advertising messages in their lives
  • Contrast wants and needs
  • Critically analyze about advertising messages
  • Understand the relationship between advertising and consumerism
Curriculum Writer: HEART
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Protest School Closings January 28

January 20, 2009

CPS is again ignoring community voice and public opinion and is proposing to close about 20 schools (or "turnaround" or consolidate or "phase out"). This is a continuation of the privatization/corporatization/destruction of public education in the city. R2010 is, and always was, a BUSINESS plan (linked to gentrification and the displacement of low-income people of color), it NEVER was an educational plan!

A strong coalition including many community organizations, school reform groups, the Chicago Teachers Union, the union rank and file caucus, and MANY teachers/parents/students from the affected schools are opposing and organizing on a city-wide basis.

The coalition is organizing a PROTEST at the next CPS Board meeting, January 28. There are two parts to the Board meeting...public testimony (starting at around 10:30, usually later), and the actual voting by the Board (later in the afternoon)

We are asking for people to come to 125 S. Clark St. (Board HQ) at 3:30 for a massive public protest. If enough people show up...we can make our voices heard!

We are also asking all CPS teachers to take a personal day and COME to the Board meeting. IF YOU WANT TO SPEAK, YOU NEED TO BE THERE VERY VERY EARLY (like 6AM) to sign up (first come, first served). And if you spoke there last month, you cannot this month.

Pack the Board Chambers! Come to the mass public protest at 3:30! The CTU is chartering buses from the affected schools, so our numbers should be large. Make your voice be heard too!!!

If you know anyone affected who would like to be involved, please contact us.

Organized by: Blocks Together, Caucus of Rank-and-file Educators, Chicago Teachers Union,
Chicago Youth Initiating Change, Designs for Change, Kenwood Oakland Community
Organization, Pilsen Alliance, Parents United for Responsible Education, Save Senn, Southside
United, Southwest Youth Collaborative, Substance, Teachers for Social Justice, and
teachers/parents/students from the affected schools. Read the Full Story

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CURRICULUM: Dismantling Disability Stereotypes With Political Cartoons

January 1, 2009 1 comments

Students will view political cartoons by Dave Lupton (“Crippen”) that address
stereotypes about people with disabilities. After discussing these stereotypes as well
as the visual qualities of a successful political cartoon, they will make their own car-
toons addressing disability stereotypes.

Download the Curriculum HERE

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CURRICULUM: Driving While Black/Driving While Brown: A Mathematics Project About Racial Profiling

The purpose of this project is to investigate racial profiling, or Driving While Black or Driving While Brown (DWB/DWB). African Americans and Latinos/as have complained, filed suit, and organized against what they believe are racist police practices—being stopped, searched, harassed, and arrested because they “fit” a racial profile—they are African American (Black) or Latino/a (Brown). But is this true? How do we know? And can mathematics be a useful tool in helping us answer this question?

Download the Full Curriculum HERE

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