Black Lives Matter in Schools Resources
Below are links to suggested lessons, films, books, readings, and general teaching guides. Themes connecting to the 13 principles of the Movement for Black Lives or the demands for the week of action are listed in parentheses where appropriate.
All Grade Levels
Readings for Educators
- A Talk to Teachers by James Baldwin
- What ‘White Folks Who Teach in the Hood’ Get Wrong about Education interview with Dr. Chris Emdin
- Some Considerations When Working with LGBT Students of Color from GLSEN
- Making Black Lives Matter in Our Schools by the editors of Rethinking Schools
Early Childhood & Elementary
Lessons for Early Childhood & Elementary
- Rethinking the U.S. Constitutional Convention: A Role Play [3rd-5th]
A role play on the Constitutional Convention which brings to life the social forces active during and immediately following the American Revolution with focus on two key topics: suffrage and slavery (intergenerational, Black families and Black villages)
- Lesson based on the book One by Kathryn Otoshi [PK-1st]
A read aloud is to show children that sometimes bullying can occur because someone feels isolated, and we can in fact come together and find common ground as long as we stand up for each other, and stand together (restorative justice, empathy and loving engagement)
- It’s Okay to Feel Different [PK-5]
This lesson helps students develop an understanding of the importance of diversity in a community (restorative justice, empathy and loving engagement)
- What is Community? [K-2nd]
Students will identify people and places that make their own neighborhoods special (diversity and globalism)
- Why Frogs and Snakes Never Play Together [PK-5th]
Students will read, act out, hear a reading, or watch a performance of a play that addresses the important topic of diversity and will spark a discussion about the topic of prejudice (diversity and globalism)
- Lesson based on the book Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle [2nd-3rd]
Students will learn about the oral traditions of two different cultures, and how two young children braved friendship and trust and learn about different forms of resistance by enslaved Africans including oral traditions through religion, alliances with other communities, and escaping enslavement to stay together (diversity and globalism)
- Exploring Gender Stereotypes w/ Role Plays [K-2nd]
Children will use creative, dramatic expression to consider not only the roots of gender stereotypes, but also their consequences and strategies for counteracting them (queer-affirming, trans-affirming, collective value)
- Introduction of Transgender and Nonbinary Identities with I Am Jazz [PK-2nd]
Students will be able to define the words “transgender” and “nonbinary” and give examples of ways to support people of all gender identities (queer-affirming, trans-affirming, collective value)
- My Family Rocks! [PK-2nd]
Students explore the definition of family, learn about different kinds of family structures and explore what makes their own family unique (intergenerational, Black families and Black villages)
- Understanding My Family’s History [K-5]
After exposure to relevant literature in class, students will research their family history by interviewing their parents and then tell their story to classmates (intergenerational, Black families and Black villages)
- Lesson based on the book Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate [4th-5th]
Students will read the story of George Moses Horton, an enslaved African who taught himself to read, and eventually became a renowned poet and write their own poems about freedom. Students will also learn that there were many forms of resistance by enslaved Africans including efforts to learn and teach others to read and write (intergenerational, Black families and Black villages)
- Lesson based on the book Milo’s Museum by Zetta Elliott [PK-2nd]
Discussion questions and class project to accompany Milo’s Museum (intergenerational, Black families and Black villages, centering Black women and femmes)
- Lesson based on the book Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence by Gretchen Woelfle coming soon [3rd-5th] (centering Black women and femmes)
- Lesson based on the book Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton coming soon [PK-1st] (ethnic studies)
Featured Books for Early Childhood & Elementary
- All The Colors We Are: The story of how we get our skin color by Katie Kissinger (bilingual)
- Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence by Gretchen Woelfle
- Milo’s Museum by Zetta Elliott
- Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
- Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford
- Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford
- The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton
- Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton
Featured Booklists for Early Childhood & Elementary
Readings for Early Childhood & Elementary
- Teaching Young Children About Race By Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen Edwards
- Black is Beautiful By Kara Hinderlie
- Heather’s Mom Got Married: Second Graders Talk about Gay Marriage by Mary Cowhey
- It’s OK to be Neither: Teaching that Supports Gender-Variant Children by Melissa Bollow Tempel
- Beyond Pink and Blue by Robin Cooley
- I Didn’t Know There Were Cities in Africa! By Brenda Randolph and Betsy DeMulder
General Teaching Guides for Early Childhood & Elementary
Middle School and High School
Lessons for Middle and High School
- The Color Line [9th-12th]
A lesson on the countless colonial laws enacted to create division and inequality based on race that helps students understand the origins of racism in the United States and who benefits (ethnic studies)
- #LastWords [ 7th-12th]
Students reflect on the last words of people killed by the police and read and respond to the poem 41 Bullets off Broadway by Willie Perdomo. (restorative justice, empathy and loving engagement)
- Promoting Social Imagination Through Interior Monologues [6th-12th]
Empathy, or “social imagination,” allows students to connect to “the other” with whom, on the surface, they may appear to have little in common (restorative justice, empathy and loving engagement)
- Black Muslims in the United States: An Introductory Activity [6th-12th]
This interactive lesson introduces participants to Black Muslims in U.S. history through a meet-and-greet activity, empowering participants to combat Islamophobia by sharing stories that challenge unidimensional caricatures of Muslims (diversity and globalism)
- ‘If There Is No Struggle…’: Teaching a People’s History of the Abolition Movement [6th-12th]
In this role play, students become members of the American Anti-Slavery Society, facing many of the real challenges to ending slavery (ethnic studies)
- Reconstructing the South: A Role Play [9th-12th]
This role play engages students in thinking about what freedpeople needed in order to achieve—and sustain—real freedom following the Civil War. It’s followed by a chapter from the book Freedom’s Unfinished Revolution on what would happen to the land in the South after slavery ended (intergenerational, Black families and Black villages)
- Burned Out of Homes and History: Unearthing the Silenced Voices of the Tulsa Race Riot [9th-12th]
Teaching about patterns of displacement and wealth inequality through the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot (intergenerational, Black families and Black villages)
- Maya Angelou’s A Brave and Startling Truth [7th-12th]
Students are challenged to create a performance piece to help the rest of the class understand the message or theme of Angelou’s poem (centering Black women and femmes)
- Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Role Play [9th-12th]
Students play the role of SNCC members, debating questions the organization faced while battling Jim Crow. Students gain a deeper understanding of how the movement evolved, what difficulties it faced, and most importantly, an understanding that social movements involve ordinary people taking action, but also discussing and debating a way forward. (ethnic studies)
- Resistance 101: A Lesson on Social Justice Activists and Strategies [6th-12th]
This role play activity introduces students to people throughout history, including many young people, who fought for social justice and civic change using a range of strategies. The lesson helps young people recognize their power to challenge injustice.
Films for Middle and High School
- PBS Black in Latin America
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. uncovers Latin America’s African roots in this four-part series.
- Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock
Documentary on the life of Daisy Bates, best know for her role with the Little Rock Nine.
- Ruby Bridges
The true story of Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old girl who helped to integrate the all-white schools in New Orleans.
Ava DuVernay’s in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.
- Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin
Documentary about the life of peace, labor, and civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.
- Intersectionality 101
Learn about intersectionality with this student-friendly video from Teaching Tolerance.
- All God’s Children
A political, social, and religious analysis of sexual orientation within the context of the traditional African American values of freedom, inclusion, and the Christian ethic.
- Hidden Figures
Based on the story of three African-American women working at NASA who served as the brains behind the launch into orbit of astronaut John Glenn.
- Eyes on the Prize
A comprehensive fourteen-part documentary history of the Civil Rights Movement.
- Sylvia Woods: “You Have to Fight for Freedom”
Dramatic reading of an interview with Sylvia Woods, a pioneer in the struggle of African-American and women trade unionists, who describes why she decided not to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” at school in 1919 when she was 10 years old.
- What Happened, Miss Simone?
Using never-before-heard recordings, rare archival footage and her best-known songs, this is the story of legendary singer and activist Nina Simone.
Readings for Middle and High School Educators
- Black Like Me by Renee Watson
- A Guideline for Teaching about Controversial Topics from Morningside Center
- Happening Yesterday, Happening Tomorrow: Teaching the ongoing murders of black men by Renee Watson
- Home Buying While Brown or Black from Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers (Gutstein and Peterson)
General Teaching Guides for Middle and High School
- Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers by Gutstein and Peterson
- Mikva Challenge Curriculum
- Civil Discourse in the Classroom – Teaching Tolerance
- Teaching Guide: Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality published by Rethinking Schools
- GSA Network: LGBTQ Inclusive Lessons and Activities
- Beyond Tolerance: A Resource Guide for Addressing LGBTQI Issues in Schools by NYCoRE
- Lessons on the Civil Rights Movement
- Teaching about Freedom Schools
- Teaching Guide. Freedom’s Unfinished Revolution: An Inquiry Into the Civil War and Reconstruction
- Teaching about 1963