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Posts Tagged ‘Social Studies’

How to Support Inclusion When Teaching Controversial Political Issues

This is the latest in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. The previous post in this series examined U.S. teens, politics, and information literacy.


Today’s top political issues are controversial for a reason: they affect our lives. Students are no exception, which is why classroom discussions about controversial political issues risk offending or alienating students, especially those who are marginalized by society. Shielding students from discomfort is tempting, but avoidance goes against the aims of learning about controversial political issues, one of which is political literacy.

But maintaining a safe, welcoming, and accepting learning environment for every student is essential. Fortunately, there are ways to ease some of the negative aspects of teaching controversial political issues. The following strategies, which have been adapted from Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy’s The Political Classroom, will help you support inclusion in the classroom.

Know your students. At the beginning of the semester, get to know your students’ views, political ideology, and personal circumstances by conducting an anonymous survey.

Choose wisely. Based on the survey results, pick political issues that are relevant, ethical, and most likely to facilitate learning.

Time it right. Schedule the least controversial issues first, and then build up to more controversial issues as the semester progresses. Evidence suggests that students become more respectful of one another once they know their classmates. Students also develop stronger civil-discourse skills over time.

Do your research. Before teaching an issue, research it thoroughly. Being informed gives you confidence and helps you keep class discussions relevant and free of false claims.

Ensure civility. During class discussions, enact and enforce the norms of civil discourse. Most students are unfamiliar with how to engage in civil debates, especially given today’s political climate. Your guidance is essential.

Get feedback. At the end of the semester, get feedback from students by conducting another anonymous survey. Ask students about what they learned and their overall experience, including whether they felt uncomfortable, offended, or alienated. Learn from the feedback, adjust accordingly, and repeat the process next semester.

Of course, there are no perfect solutions. No matter what you do, some students may become offended or alienated during discussions involving controversial political issues. But by following the strategies outlined above, you will help make your classroom more inclusive for all students.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series on teaching controversial political issues to students.

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SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

United Nations Day

In 1945, the charter of the United Nations went into effect and the world entered into a new era of cooperation among countries around the world. In honor of this monumental event, every October 24 since 1948 has been celebrated as United Nations Day.

The UN’s roots are in the League of Nations, an organization formed after World War I and promoted by President Woodrow Wilson, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. While the League ultimately failed, the idea of an international organization to keep world order was taken up again after World War II, growing out of the establishment of the Allied Powers during the war.

While the success and effectiveness of the UN has been questioned–notably by Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign–it has been a forum for countries to air grievances, cooperate on humanitarian matters, act as a check against aggression and promote human rights, a cause that was taken up by Eleanor Roosevelt and that resulted in the UN Declaration on Human Rights.

United Nations Research Topic

United Nations Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

You can use eLibrary to supplement your Social Studies class lessons on history, civics and world affairs. Our Research Topics are a good way to provide students with background information and in-depth articles, videos and more. Possible strategies:  Assign whole RTs or specific articles from them as background for discussion; have students select topics for research, selecting from a list of RTs; have students search in eLibrary to discover RTs and other resources related to the UN.

See the following for a sample of relevant resources eLibrary has to offer:

United Nations

League of Nations

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Woodrow Wilson

Eleanor Roosevelt

Fact Sheet: U.S. Teens, Politics, and Information Literacy

This is the latest in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. The previous post in this series discussed how educators can choose controversial political issues ethically.

In December 2016, the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research polled 13- to 17-year-old U.S. teenagers on politics and government, civic engagement, and information literacy. Here is an overview of the results:

Politics and government. Overall, teenagers have a pessimistic view of U.S. politics and government. About 8 in 10 believe the nation is divided on important values. Many teenagers find little commonality with those who are different from them, such as people who live in other geographical areas and people in other political parties. Additionally, a majority of teenagers have negative views on the system and functioning of government, including how political leaders are chosen and the ability of government to solve problems. Despite teenagers’ pessimistic views, over half believe that the American dream still exists, and most have positive or neutral views on the future of the country.

Civic engagement. Teenagers have a high level of civic engagement. In fact, almost 9 in 10 teenagers have taken part in at least one civic activity, the most popular being volunteering and raising money for a cause. Fewer teenagers are involved politically, perhaps unsurprisingly given their age and their views on politics and government. A majority have never expressed their political beliefs online, and a whopping 88 percent have never participated in a protest, march, or demonstration (though this may have changed some given the high number of protests, marches, and demonstrations in recent months).

Information literacy. A majority of teenagers reported learning about information literacy skills in school, but a sizable number of teenagers said they have not. One-third had never discussed how to evaluate the trustworthiness of online content. Some 40 percent never discussed the value of evaluating evidence used to support opinions. And 42 percent never discussed how to find varying social and political viewpoints online.

There are some lessons to be learned from this poll. First, civic engagement is high among teenagers, but this fails to translate into political participation. Educators should focus on teaching students how they can be a part of the political system and effect change. Second, teenagers believe that they have little in common with those who are different from them. Educators can help break down barriers and close this empathy gap by exposing students to different people, ideas, and viewpoints. And third, too few students are learning the necessary information literacy skills, especially as they relate to cyberspace. With the spread of fake news, educators should prioritize strengthening information literacy skills for the digital age.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series on teaching controversial political issues to students.

Subscribe via email to Share This and never miss a post.


SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, an off-the-books celebration of all things pirate. The idea was hatched in 1995 when friends John Baur and Mark Summers (aka Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy) began, inexplicably, to insult each other in pirate lingo while playing racquetball. So, in honor and in the spirit of this incredibly important holiday, eLibrary presents …

Six stream-of-consciousness Research Topics vaguely related to International Talk Like a Pirate Day:

Piracy in the Caribbean: This is what we all think of when we think of pirates–eyepatches, peg-legs, fighting with swords. We tend to think of pirates as happy-go-lucky adventurers, but their short careers were often filled with brutality.

Piracy in the Caribbean RT

Piracy in the Caribbean Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Piracy in Somalia: At the other end of the timescale is modern-day piracy in which gangs hijack cargo ships off the coast of Somalia and hold them for ransom. The hijackings fell off in 2013 due to security actions by vessel owners and increased naval patrols. (The Tom Hanks movie Captain Phillips portrays such an incident.)

Piracy in Somalia RT

Piracy in Somalia Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Parrots: OK, let’s lighten things up a bit. What can I say? Beautiful parrots that would make Long John Silver proud.

Parrots RT

Parrots Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Treasure Island: This is the book that provided pretty much all of the stereotypes we know about pirates.

Treasure Island RT

Treasure Island Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Barbary Wars: Back in the day, the Barbary states (current day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) demanded American merchant ships pay tribute or be attacked by “Barbary pirates.” Then Thomas Jefferson became president, and he was having none of it. He (and successor James Madison) used military force to end the practice. (For a famous incident in the Barbary Wars, see this post from last year: Stephen Decatur Burns the USS Philadelphia.)

Barbary Wars RT

Barbary Wars Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Linguistics: Well, I said vaguely related, and it is Talk Like a Pirate Day …

Linguistics RT

Linguistics Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

While this has been a lighthearted post, we are serious about providing content for your classroom, and the information above gives you an idea of the breadth of information–history, modern issues, science, literature–contained in our collection of more than 11,000 Research Topics. You can see how a trip to eLibrary could bolster classwork, assignments, and discussions on just about any topic with introductory and in-depth material.

And, arrrrren’t you glad I made it through this without a bit of cheesy pirate talk?

The Stonewall Riots and the Birth of Gay Liberation

Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, New York City, 2011 [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike Generic 2.0 license] [via Wikimedia Commons]

Peace, love, and condemnation

We generally consider the 1960s in the United States as an era of peace and love. But the homosexual communities during this decade were commonly condemned by mainstream society.

Homosexuality was still classified as a “mental disorder” by the American Psychiatric Association. Police raids were conducted in establishments known to be “gay-friendly.” Homosexual acts were illegal, and many people were arrested for engaging in them. Some were fined; others were sentenced to long prison terms–even lifetime sentences. There were not many places where a gay man or woman could be open about their sexuality. Countless lesbians and gays lived “in the closet,” an existence in which they could not express their true selves.

The year was 1969

Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, 2011 [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike Generic 2.0 license], [via Wikimedia Commons]

Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, New York City [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, CC BY-SA 3.0] [via Wikimedia Commons]

During the 1960s, New York City was home to the largest gay population in the country. The city was also considered to be one of the most aggressive against this alternative culture.

As the night of June 27 turned to June 28, in the year 1969, the New York City police conducted what they thought would be a routine raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Previous raids always resulted in arrests and not much opposition from the bar’s patrons.

Not on this night.

On this 1969 summer night, the gay liberation movement was born.

Out of the melee, pride emerges

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, gay patrons, regularly harassed by the New York City police, took a stand. Word of the demonstration spread and many joined the riot at the Stonewall Inn. Protests broke out throughout the city. They continued for days, despite police attempts to control the crowds. Shouts of “gay power” and singing of “We Shall Overcome” rang through the streets.

The Stonewall riots inspired local and national dialogue about gay civil rights. Very soon after the riots, a gay advocacy group in NYC was formed and a newspaper was launched. In commemoration of the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades were held in Greenwich Village, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Two years after the riots, nearly every major U.S. city had established a gay-rights organization. And in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

Nearly five decades later…

Forty-eight years after the Stonewall riots, the gay liberation movement has evolved to encompass the civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. Incredible strides have been made in the LGBT movement:

In 2000, Vermont became the first U.S. state to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples; four years later, Massachusetts was the first to legalize gay marriage. A June 2015 Supreme Court decision legalized same-sex marriage in all states, a huge victory for the LGBT movement.

What constituted a hate crime in the United States was expanded in 2009 to include crimes motivated by the victim’s gender, sexual orientation or identity or disability. 

In 2011, the Obama administration addressed the United Nations and announced that LGBT rights are “one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time” and that the country would support international efforts promoting LGBT rights.

Transgender rights became a mainstream issue after the turn of the century and quickly picked up momentum. By 2013, two major federal rulings advanced equal opportunity employment for transgender people. The year 2013 also heralded further progress in the struggle for transgender rights: California enacted the first U.S. law protecting transgender students, and the American Psychiatric Association eliminated its diagnosis “gender identity disorder.”

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, otherwise known as LGBT Pride Month. It was established in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. It is a time of celebration, commemoration, and remembrance: a celebration of living freely, openly, and honestly; a commemoration of all that the LGBT community has contributed and what the LGBT rights movement has accomplished; and a remembrance of members of the LGBT community who lost their lives to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.

Join SKS and its June Spotlight of the Month in honoring LGBT Pride Month. Learn about the history of the gay rights movement and follow its path as it is forged in the United States and many countries around the world.

“The Stonewall riot may have been the start of a civil rights movement, but it was not the beginning of our history.” ― Tom Cardamone, author, and activist

Teddy Roosevelt, Our National Monuments, and The Antiquities Act of 1906

On the 8th of June, 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt signed into law the Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities, more familiarly known as the Antiquities Act of 1906. The law gives the President of the United States the authority, by executive proclamation, to create national monuments from federally-owned public lands in order to protect important “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.” On September 24, 1906, almost four months after he signed the bill, Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower in Wyoming as the first national monument in the United States. Devils Tower was the first of many that he would designate as national monuments under his presidency.

Since the first day of its signing, the law has been steeped in controversy pitting lawmakers, landowners, and resource extraction industries against environmentalists, conservationists, and federal land managers who have sought greater protections. Just last month President Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review national monuments created since 1996, which the President called “a massive federal land grab.”

With this review now taking place it’s a perfect time for science and social educators alike to explore with their students the history and background of the Antiquities Act and the lands the act is meant to protect. There are some basic question that teachers may want to ask their students:

  • What are national monuments and why do we need them?
  • What was the intent of the Antiquities Act of 1906?
  • What protections does the law afford, and what rights and responsibilities do landowners and lesees have inside national monument lands?
  • What scientific and cultural values do these national monuments have?

The current review by the Trump administration will look at around 24 national monuments designated since 1996, many of which reside in California, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. You can learn more in eLibrary about our nation’s national monuments and the national parks that were originally designated as monuments. Not yet a subscriber to ProQuest products? Request a Free Trial here!

Here is a partial list of the national monuments under review by the Trump administration:

Bears Ear National Monument
Vermilion Cliffs
Canyons of the Ancients
Giant Sequoia National Monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

And here is a sample of national monuments and national parks that were originally designated as national monuments:

Chaco Canyon (New Mexico)
Mesa Verde National Park
(Colorado)
Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (Arizona)
Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
Olympic National Park (Washington)
Muir Woods National Monument
Death Valley National Park (California)
Katmai National Park and Preserve (Alaska)
Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)

Teaching Activity: Tracing the Effects of Slavery

Frear’s Silk Dept (circa 1882), via Wikimedia Commons

This activity comes from the CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF, which features more than 70 activities to help teachers make the most of our country, state, and province reports.

Grade level: 9–12

Objective: Students will understand the geographical scope of the slave trade. They will be able to trace some of the lingering socioeconomic and cultural effects of slavery across the world. See the Teaching Activites PDF for Common Core and other national curriculum standards met by this activity.

Time requirement

Preparation: 30 minutes

Monument of the Four Moors, Livorno, Italy, via Wikimedia Commons

In-class: 50 minutes, less if students read selections at home

Materials

CultureGrams World Edition

Helpful maps from UNESCO

Understanding Slavery Initiative (timelines, maps, paintings, and images of artifacts)

Instructions

  1. Explain to the students how, besides being a general atrocity and a personal tragedy for the millions of Africans who were sold as slaves, the African slave trade has had a major effect on the history of the world. Slavery has influenced the historical development and current cultural and socioeconomic conditions of many nations: African nations from which individuals were captured and nations in the Americas to which Africans were brought as
  2. Divide the class in half to form two groups. Have each group read from these selections in class or at home:
Group One Group Two
United States (History) Angola (History)
Antigua and Barbuda (History, Arts, Holidays) Botswana (Religion)
Barbados (History, Language, Arts) Malawi (History)
Haiti (History, Population) Mozambique (History)
St. Lucia (History, Population, Holidays) Senegal (History)
St. Kitts and Nevis (History, Flag description) Sierra Leone (History, Population, Religion)
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (History, Holidays)
  1. Ask the students in Group Two to discuss the circumstances surrounding the African side of the slave trade, in addition to any long-lasting effects it has had on populations or
  2. Ask the students in Group One to discuss the history and cultural impact of slavery in those countries. What did it take to end slavery? What types of economies were created as a result of the slave trade? How did it influence the arts and languages of the Americas?
  3. Have each group prepare a short presentation to share their findings with the other group.
  4. As a class, analyze the Country and Development Data for all of the countries. Which statistics might slavery have influenced and how?

Carving of slave caravan, alternate, Lake Malawi Museum ,by Tim Cowley via Wikimedia Commons

Extension activity

For background information, read the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) report on modern-day slavery (summary of facts below).

  • Almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour – 11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys.
  • Almost 19 million victims are exploited by private individuals or enterprises and over 2 million by the state or rebel groups.
  • Of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.
  • Forced labour in the private economy generates US$ 150 billion in illegal profits per year.
  • Domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors most concerned.
  • Migrant workers and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to forced labour.

Explain to the class that slavery still exists and briefly discuss the various forms it takes (i.e. child and bonded laborers, sex slaves, domestic servants, agricultural workers, etc.). For homework, instruct students to look up a current event dealing with a form of modern-day slavery, then do a write-up that summarizes the event and analyzes the laws and circumstances that result in continued slavery; they might also compare the effects of modern-day slavery with those of the African slave trade.

In this article, students can put a face to modern descendants of the African slave trade and hear their perspectives.

How Educators Can Choose Controversial Political Issues Ethically

This is the third in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. Previous posts in this series discussed the benefits and aims of teaching controversial political issues.

How Educators Can Choose Controversial Political Issues Ethically


In 2014, school officials in Rialto, California, had to apologize after students were asked to write an argumentative essay on whether the Holocaust occurred. The assignment presented students with a false controversial issue and implied that Holocaust denial was a valid position despite empirical evidence that proves otherwise. Although extreme, this incident demonstrates the ethical perils of choosing topics when teaching controversial political issues.

How can educators choose and present controversial political issues ethically? There are no easy answers. Educators, however, can take some steps to ensure that teaching about a controversial political issue doesn’t become a controversy.

Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy, authors of The Political Classroom, argue that educators should be well prepared and use good professional judgment, which considers classroom context, evidence-based research, and educational aims. To prepare, educators should be able to identify four types of issues and consider three criteria to determine whether an issue is indeed controversial.

Identify the Type of Issue

Is the issue empirical or political?

Empirical issues can be answered through methodical inquiry. All empirical issues have a “correct” answer based on facts, although the answer may not yet be known. Political issues involve matters of public policy. Although empirical data is often used to support public-policy positions, political issues also involve considerations that are not necessarily fact-based, such as ethics and morals.

Is the issue open or settled?

Open issues are a current matter of controversy. Settled issues are no longer controversial and have widespread agreement. Both empirical and political issues can be open or settled.

Here’s an overview of the four types of issues:

1. Open Empirical: An issue that can be answered with facts, but a debate is still occurring because the evidence is conflicting or lacking. Example: Are self-driving cars safer than traditional cars?

2. Settled Empirical: An issue that has been answered with facts. Example: Are opioids addictive?

3. Open Political: A public-policy issue that has multiple, opposing viewpoints. Example: Should the United States implement single-payer health care?

4. Settled Political: A public-policy issue that is no longer considered controversial or open for debate. Example: Should women have the right to vote?

Why is identifying the type of issue important? Educators teaching controversial political issues must be sure not to present settled issues as open. Educators must also recognize the difference between issues that can be answered with facts alone (empirical issues) versus those that can be answered with opinions in addition to facts (policy issues).

Consider the Criteria for Controversy

Identifying whether an issue is empirical or political and open or settled may seem easy, but things are not always so simple. Some issues are empirically settled, but large segments of society may not agree. According to scientists, climate change is real and genetically-modified foods are safe, but sizeable numbers of Americans are skeptical of those positions. Some educators believe it is unethical to present issues as controversial when empirical evidence or their own moral code suggests otherwise. Other educators believe they are doing their students a disservice if they ignore issues that are currently being debated in the political sphere.

Here are three possible criteria to consider when choosing a controversial issue:

1. Behavioral: This criterion considers an issue controversial if sizeable numbers of people in society disagree on the issue regardless of empirical evidence.

Upside: This standard reflects what society thinks.

Downside: This standard may ignore empirical evidence. If sizable numbers of people believe in a conspiracy theory, despite the evidence, is it ethical to present this as a controversial issue?

2. Epistemic: This criterion considers an issue controversial if sizable numbers of people in society disagree on the issue, and there are multiple, logically grounded viewpoints on the issue.

Upside: This standard reflects what society thinks while also considering reasonable, evidence-based viewpoints.

Downside: People disagree on what is considered reasonable, which suggests that educators should ignore controversial political issues if viewpoints are considered unreasonable.

3. Politically Authentic: This criterion considers an issue controversial if it is being debated in the political sphere (e.g., legislation, political campaigns, and protest movements).

Upside: This criterion addresses current issues being debated in the political sphere, which prepares students for life in a democracy.

Downside: Viewpoints on politically authentic issues are not always grounded in logic.

Although The Political Classroom’s Hess and McAvoy recognize that each standard has its merits and disadvantages, they most prefer the politically authentic criterion because it directly addresses an important aim of teaching controversial political issues to students: political literacy.

As stated earlier in the post, there are no easy answers on how to choose and present controversial political issues ethically. But thinking deeply about controversial political issues and using good professional judgment will help.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series on teaching controversial political issues to students.

Subscribe via email to Share This and never miss a post.


The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education is available on ProQuest Ebook Central or wherever books are sold.


SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

Four Ways to Facilitate Teaching About Immigration

Photo of an unaccompanied child who had crossed the border into the U.S.

South Texas Border – U.S. Customs and Border Protection provide assistance to unaccompanied children after they have crossed the border into the United States. Photo by Eddie Perez [Public Domain], via flickr

Teaching controversial political issues in the classroom is a challenging endeavor. Every day there is a hot button news story that may capture a students’ attention. This is an opportunity to teach the art of dialogue and develop critical thinking skills. One political hot button issue, in particular, has been receiving quite a bit of attention in the news lately – immigration.

Why Should Teachers Discuss Hot-Button Immigration Issues?

While discussing immigration in the classroom might be cause for discomfort among educators, it is an issue which should not be ignored. Immigration is a perennial issue which affects everyone. These days, it is especially relevant that teachers address the issue because of the changing demographics of the classroom. Some students’ personal lives may be directly affected by immigration policies — perhaps one or both of their parents are undocumented immigrants or maybe they are DREAMers. According to the Pew Research Center, there are approximately 3.9 million K-12 students (about 7.3% of the total) with at least one parent who is an undocumented immigrant in the U.S.

Additionally, teaching students about multiple sides of this issue helps them to learn to how to develop analytical and critical thinking skills to prepare them for participation in the broader society. But as with other controversial issues, teaching about immigration can be tricky.

To get you started, here are 4 key ways to introduce the topic of immigration to your classroom:

1. Develop a knowledge base and understanding of the issue.

In order to be prepared to discuss the topic in a balanced and nonjudgmental way, do your research ahead of time. You may want to consult with other teachers, outside experts or your media specialist for materials and information. In addition to developing a general knowledge base, drill down a bit deeper and familiarize yourself with state laws and policies that impact your students and local community. This can help in addressing the topic in a more sensitive manner that is tailored to your class.

While you are researching the topic, you may also want to jot down sensitive questions that might arise in the classroom so you are prepared to address them.

Delve into your library resources. If your school media center or local library has our ProQuest product, SIRS Issues Researcher, take a look at the Immigration Leading Issue for overviews, essential questions, timelines, and editorially-selected articles, which are perfectly geared for middle school and high school students.  Also, check out our latest Spotlight of the Month –which features a quote, content, and quiz on illegal immigration — and the list of teacher resources at the end of this post.

2. Don’t spotlight immigrant students during discussions.

If there are immigrants in your class, do not make them speak as representatives of their group during discussions on immigration. Spotlighting a student in such a way can embarrass them and also reinforce stereotypes about their background. The University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching recommends in its Guidelines for Discussing Difficult or Controversial Topics that teachers “[a]void assumptions about any member of the class or generalizations about social groups. Do not ask individuals to speak for their (perceived) social group.”

3. Help students to view an immigration issue from new perspectives.

Helping students view an immigration issue from a new perspective can not only help them hone their critical and analytical skills but can also teach them empathy. Professor Miguel Vasquez of Northern Arizona University, in his article Teaching Students to Consider Immigration with Empathy, suggests that teachers try incorporating “narratives, including stories, anecdotes, jokes, and myths, [to] help contextualize abstract and theoretical concepts, framing them within students’ life experiences.”

4. Use and teach appropriate terminology when discussing aspects of immigration.

Avoid using terminology that might be considered offensive or pejorative to some. For example, the Library of Congress recently replaced illegal alien with the terms noncitizens and unauthorized immigration. The New York Times’s style guide offers the following advice: “consider alternatives when appropriate to explain the specific circumstances of the person in question or to focus on actions: who crossed the border illegally; who overstayed a visa; who is not authorized to work in this country.”

Teacher Resources:

This list includes educational resources and lesson plans on both immigration and how to be welcoming and inclusive to immigrant students:

The Best Practical Resources for Helping Teachers, Students & Families Respond to Immigration Challenges

Educating About Immigration: Lessons for Teachers

An Educator’s Guide to the Immigration Debate

How Teachers Can Help Immigrant Kids Feel Safe

Lesson Plan: Incredible Bridges: “Every Day We Get More Illegal” by Juan Felipe Herrera

The New Americans: Lesson Plan: Immigration Debate

Welcoming Immigrant Students Into the Classroom

What Are Sanctuary Cities and How Are They Bracing for Trump’s Immigration Crackdown? (with Lesson Plan)

Share with Us

Do you have thoughts about or experiences with teaching about controversial issues in immigration for your students? We’d love to hear them! Tweet us #ProQuest.

Terrorism Resources in eLibrary

Osama bin Laden Research Topic

Osama bin Laden Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Next Tuesday, May 2, marks six years since Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The infamous terrorist leader of al-Qaeda had been wanted by the United States for a decade since he masterminded the attacks of September 11, 2001. While some may have thought that the success of Operation Neptune Spear would bring about some great sense of closure, the truth is that terrorism still never seems to be far from our minds. With the turmoil in Afghanistan and Iraq, the civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS and the churn of politics and the 24-hour news industry, it is difficult to get away from.

So, do you discuss it in class in the hope of helping students make sense of it or do you stay away for fear of stirring up anxiety? This post from a middle school teacher in which she talks about her experience and these guidelines from Operation250 and Facing History and Ourselves might give you some ideas on how to go about it.

If you decide to tackle the issue, eLibrary has many Research Topics that can provide your students information on terrorist groups, historical and contemporary incidents and the context with which to examine them. A good place to start is the ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Terrorism. This is a special page that compiles most of the terrorism Research Topics. You can use this page to easily see what we have and what you might want to use in the classroom, and you can even provide it to your students to allow them to browse. Of course, you and your students can also search around in eLibrary for more RTs and for up-to-the-day articles.