Educators, It’s Time to #TeachResistance

Introducing a Resistance Toolkit for K-5 Educators

The time has always been right for anti-bias education in our schools. But the time has never been more urgent than right now.

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, schools are reporting a surge in incidents of hate, bullying, and bias. As educators, we are obligated to respond. We know our work goes beyond reading, writing, and math skills. We also work each day to instill values of kindness, courage, and citizenship in our students. That’s why we must #TeachResistance in our classrooms.

What is #TeachResistance?

#TeachResistance is a series of sample lesson plans, tips for implementation, and additional resources for elementary educators that focus on the theme of resistance. It was created by a group of New York City-based educators and parents who felt compelled to teach the young people in our lives how to respond to the wave of bigotry and unrest. You can read our Statement of Purpose here.

Each lesson plan is based on a read-aloud about a real or fictional young person who resists injustice in their life. The books we selected are One by Kathryn Otoshi, Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel, Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate, and Joelito’s Big Decision by Ann Berlak. The lesson plans include discussion questions, a related activity, and an “activist extension.”

For example, the suggested 4th grade lesson begins with a read aloud of Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate. George Moses Horton was a real life enslaved African who taught himself to read, and eventually became a renowned poet. While he remained enslaved until emancipation, he used his poetry to resist the inhumanity of chattel slavery. After students hear the story of George Moses Horton, they are asked to write their own poem about what freedom looks like, sounds like, and moves like, using Horton’s actual words as inspiration. Finally, students are invited to participate in a range of activist extensions including #StepUpScholastic, which asks people to write letters to Scholastic Books to advocate for more racial diversity in their book catalogs.

These lessons are a simple starting place for teaching the history, context, and power of resistance. We want the young people in our lives to know that they can fight back against injustice, and that there are many ways to do so. We hope these lessons will serve this purpose.

How to use #TeachResistance

We’re hoping that elementary educators across the country will use our #TeachResistance toolkit on January 20th to participate in a digital Inauguration Day Teach-In. Use the lesson plans in your classroom. Share them with colleagues in your school and larger community. Adapt them for your students and school community as you see fit.

Ultimately, how you use the toolkit is up to you. We’d be honored if you participate in our Inauguration Day Teach In, but the work to #TeachResistance is much more important, and much bigger than a single day. We know that this will be ongoing and perhaps endless work by educators, parents, and all those who want to prepare children to be active participants in democracy.

How to join us

We hope you’ll share stories and pictures of your experience using the toolkit on social media using our hashtag, #TeachResistance. You can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or via our Tumblr.

We also hope you’ll share your feedback, book suggestions, and your own lesson plans for resistance. You can e-mail them to us at teachresistance@gmail.com.

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