As you reflect on these classroom activities from the video, think about how you might adapt and extend them to your own teaching.
- Fifth-grade teacher Libby Sinclair personalizes the concept of stereotyping by having students recall examples of stereotyping that they have encountered. Later, Ms. Sinclair asks the students to find examples of stereotypes in literature they have studied on the Negro Leagues. The lesson ends with students writing letters to encourage a publisher to include more information about the Negro Leagues in baseball history books.
- Gary Fisher's eighth-grade students are studying the historic Amistad case, in which slaves took over a slave ship. The case resulted in a controversial trial that centered on the issue of property. Mr. Fisher provides background information about the case, then students read history books, watch a video, and review trial transcripts in preparation for a mock trial.
- Cynthia Vaughn introduces her first-grade students to the controversial issues that can surface in a community and shows students how to take action. Working in small groups, students use a model town to identify their concerns and discuss solutions with the each group's designated "mayor."
Consider your own classroom as you answer the following questions.
- What skills can students learn from dealing with controversial issues in social studies?
- What guidelines do you use for class discussions of controversial issues?
- How do you deal with different skill levels in discussions?
- What issues in your curriculum lend themselves to teaching and researching different perspectives?
- When teaching about a controversial issue, what is your goal for students?
Links to the Lessons
"Dealing with Controversial Issues" features the following teachers and lessons from the Social Studies in Action library:
Libby Sinclair: Understanding Stereotypes
Gary Fisher: The Amistad Case
Justin Zimmerman: The Middle East Conflict
Wendy Ewbank: Landmark Supreme Court Cases
Cynthia Vaughn: Leaders, Community, and Citizens
Steve Page: Economic Dilemmas and Solutions
Brian Poon: The Individual in Society
Mavis Weir: Migration from Latin America