Social Justice: Lesson Planning Resources

August 18, 2017 / by Lisa Hollenbach

When events like those in Charlottesville, Virginia happen, we watch the news in disbelief and despair. We scroll endlessly through our Twitter feeds -- tweeting, retweeting, sharing resources, and keeping abreast of the latest developments. Maybe what you saw invoked anger, maybe sadness, maybe fear.

The question that remains is, what are you going to do about it?

Teachers need to talk with their students about race, but before you begin to explore race, bias, and identity in your classroom, you'll need to do a bit of work to be sure you're prepared.

When you're ready, the resources below can help spur discussions about implicit bias, privilege, and systemic racism, and empower students to work toward a more just society.

Be Thoughtful About Curriculum

The resources we use in our classrooms say a lot about our values and priorities. Think about the types of resources you can include to support dialogue, critical thinking, and questioning. Also, be intentional about including more liberatory texts that challenge traditional textbook narratives by telling the stories of workers, women, Native Americans, African Americans, and others whose impact has been overlooked or dismissed.

Here are a few great resources to help you start to shift your curriculum:




Teaching Channel Videos

Teaching for Civic Engagement

If you’ve been wondering how to engage young people in civic action and prepare them to address the great challenges of our age -- from climate change to racism -- you need to see our Educating for Democracy in the Digital Age series.


VIDEO: Encouraging Students to Take Action 

This video shows Matthew Colley’s students thinking about the root causes and effects of  contemporary social problems. You can learn about how Matt teaches for civic engagement all year long and pick up some of his best resources here.


In Infographics for Change, Chela Delgado’s students design an infographic to visually represent a theory of change around a contemporary issue.

Although not in this same series, you can see students express themselves around social issues through 3D art in Walls and Barriers: Using Art to Express Social Issues.

Reading Like A Historian


VIDEO: Reading Like a Historian: Overview 

The Reading Like a Historian methodology "turns history into a series of questions instead of a series of answers." Students become “Historians in Training,” beginning their investigations with questions to focus their learning. Most lessons include one or more primary source documents, which allow students to practice skills like Sourcing, Repetition, Re-Assessing Reliability, Contextualization, and Corroboration.

You'll also notice how movement and space are important in Turn to Your Partner and Philosophical Chairs.

One added benefit of this Tch video series is that after you view, you can head over to Stanford Education Group’s website and check out the history curriculum and lesson plans available for you to use in your classroom.

Curated Curriculum, Reading Lists, & Resources

Conversations About Race


Related Resources

Intersectionality of Social Justice

Conversations about race are front and center right now, but we can’t forget that oppressive systems such as racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and the like are inherently interconnected and can’t be examined separately from one another.

Here are a few resources from Tchers Voice that extend beyond race to discuss social justice and equity in other spaces:

Teaching for social and racial justice is some of the most important work we can do together. I encourage you to lean into the discomfort, have courageous conversations, forgive yourself when you make mistakes, and be patient but persistent. We have a long way to go, but we'll get there -- together.

Topics: Class Culture, Equity, Social Justice, Lesson Planning, Social Studies, Supporting Students, Video Playlist, Summer Learning, Media Literacy

Lisa Hollenbach

Written by Lisa Hollenbach

Lisa Hollenbach is a former high school Social Studies teacher and Department Chair, an adjunct professor, working with pre-service social studies teachers and behavioral science students, and serves as a mentor for the Teacher Leadership program at Mt. Holyoke College. Lisa is passionate about storytelling, teacher voice and leadership, collaboration, innovative instruction, social learning, and redefining professional development. Lisa is a member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council, several ECET2 Steering Committees, and is a Co-Founder, Director, and Writing Coach for the National Blogging Collaborative, a non-profit organization that cultivates and supports the capacity of all educators to use their unique voice to elevate the craft of teaching and learning. Lisa leads the Collaborative in engagement and social media storytelling. Connect with Lisa on Teaching Channel, on her blog, or on Twitter: @lisa_hollenbach.

Read Next

Sign up for the Teaching Channel newsletter to get the latest articles, videos, and resources delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning.

Recent Blogs

Search Blogs

      2022-July11-12months_300x600 (003)


      We're always looking for new TCHERS' VOICE bloggers! If you're interested in writing an article, please get in touch with us. 

      Learn More