There’s a lot happening around the United States that your students should be aware of, especially after a long summer break…
Keep an eye on these arenas of politics and use these essential questions to frame discussions. Our All-Star teacher tips can help with lesson planning. — By incorporating these events into your lessons, you’ll help students develop civic competence and make your social studies curriculum even more relevant!
Here are our top 3 picks for U.S. events that you and your students should continue to watch and dive into learning about in the coming months:
1) What does it mean to be Black in the United States of America?
The Voting Rights Act (1965), which sought to outlaw voting obstacles for African Americans, is pretty recent when thinking historically.
If you put that era on a timeline in parallel with other well-know minority groups overcoming barriers, like the 19th Amendment (1919) guaranteeing Women the right to vote, you could predict that it might take another 40 years for us to see commercials entitled “Black is beautiful” on your favorite television stations, similar to this “Beauty is a state of mind” one for women.
“Black Lives Matter” is just easier to say and remember than a more-descriptive name like “Look at the history. Study it! You’ll see that we’ve got a lot more work to do together to achieve the uniquely American constitutional ideals of Equality, Rights, Liberty, Opportunity, and Democracy”.
Feel free to point to that U.S. Presidents poster on your wall and ask “Which of these guys is not like the other?” Keyword: guys. Better keyword: other.
All-Star Teacher Tip: Build a discussion culture in your classroom that makes sometimes-awkward moments OK. Then, design learning activities around the best questions you can come up with, like “Does reverse racism exist?” or “Is what’s happening now similar to any other historic protest periods?” when teaching about American imperialism or industrialism. Have your students unbundle and analyze music about it like this website does: “What if American history was more black than white?”.
As Socrates once maybe said: “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”
2) What role does Poverty and Opportunity play in the United States of America?
“Swing Vote” is one the best classroom films to use to discuss elections. Is there a better movie quote than this one: “If we are the richest country in the world, how come so many of us can barely afford to live here?”
Would the character above, fittingly named “Bud,” vote for Donald Trump?
While neither candidate is talking about poverty and opportunity enough, Trump has certainly tapped into the frustrations of poor, white Americans.
There are so many “Americas” and poor white is one of them.
“Opportunity” is one of the five founding ideals listed above, perhaps the most significant, and “Poverty” is the best way to describe a state where you have less access to it in the United States of America.
This Election might seem black-and-white, but there’s a lot more to learn here!
All-Star Teacher Tip: Watch “Swing Vote” with your family, then with your classes, then have everyone play our Election Challenge and discuss a question like, “Is the Electoral College fair?” in the classroom, at the dinner table, and with us!
3) Is the Presidential Election the most significant event this year?
But no matter what you do or say, it’ll seem that way.
Embrace the great American sideshow and squeeze every ounce of learning from it possible…that might Make America Great Again!
And program your social media to bring you the best resources from around the world wide web (see our follow lists from facebook and twitter) and teach your students to do the same, especially through fanschool.org/politics and fanschool.org/election.