How to address violence in the news with your kids.

Learn more
Common Sense


Civil Rights and Social Justice Resources for Classrooms

Our communities -- classroom and otherwise -- depend on the vigilant protection (and expansion) of our rights, respect for our differences, and continued fight for a more just, inclusive, and equitable world. For educators, this means inspiring students to become the next generation of critical thinkers and advocates for social change and equity. This collection of mostly free and web-based resources provides teachers with valuable professional development and classroom strategies for culturally responsive teaching and supporting diverse communities in the classroom. There are also tons of lesson plans and activities, as well as primary media, on challenging but necessary topics like racism, sexism, and genocide, as well as historical events like the civil rights movement and Japanese American internment along with contemporary social justice struggles. 

Continue reading

Top Picks


PrintPrint | Save as PDF

Anti-Defamation League

Toolkit equips teachers to tackle bias with ready-to-go resources

Bottom line: This site fuses meaningful curricular connections between challenging current events and class content, and is a helpful go-to for teaching tough issues.

Roots & Shoots

Lessons, activities, and projects promote social and environmental change

Bottom line: Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots will inspire you to lead change in your community.

Learning for Justice

Thought-provoking classroom resources support diversity education

Bottom line: It's an invaluable teacher tool to help reduce prejudice and encourage tolerance in schools, as well as within society as a whole.

Library of Congress

Dig into famed library's collection of research goodies

Bottom line: The Library of Congress delivers the best of America's past and present, and with teacher support it could be a reliable research resource for students.

Critical Media Project

Relevant media clips get students examining identity, culture

Bottom line: Teachers will need to take time to build effective lessons, but if they do, this is a useful, relevant, high-interest resource for deconstructing identity and building critical thinking and empathy skills.


Extensive humanities resource offers deep well of great content

Bottom line: The National Endowment for the Humanities has put together an outstanding place for art, history, language, and literature.

Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility

Brave, caring approach to teaching social justice tackles tough topics

Bottom line: An important free resource for educators seeking to embed social justice education.

National Archives

Access U.S. history with treasure trove of docs, genealogy, and other resources

Bottom line: NARA's website wasn't designed for kids, but they can definitely use it to research and learn about history, genealogy, and the U.S. population and government.

Digital Public Library of America

Organized digital library features piles of useful primary resources

Bottom line: DPLA is at the top of the list of high-grade, online primary source collections if teachers make effective use of what's on offer.

Common Sense Selection

My Hero

Global community of storytellers share inspiring examples of humanity

Bottom line: Free resource that teaches kids about all kinds of heroism, gives them skills to tell stories, and offers a platform to share them.

When Rivers Were Trails

Point-and-click story shares Native perspectives on forced migration

Bottom line: Offers a valuable alternative perspective to the colonial history found in U.S. classrooms, through a familiar, Oregon Trail-style format.

American Archive of Public Broadcasting

Comprehensive collection of public radio and television broadcasts

Bottom line: A valuable resource for teachers who want to incorporate multimedia into their curricula.

Annenberg Classroom

Civics website makes teaching the Constitution manageable, meaningful

Bottom line: Go for the videos, stay for the lessons: Annenberg Classroom saves teachers' prep time when teaching the Constitution, current events, or other civics lessons.

Do I Have a Right?

Law sim lets players practice pairing rights with amendments

Bottom line: Standout iCivics title helps learners new to the U.S. Constitution get great practice matching amendments to individuals' rights, and have good fun doing it.

Facing History and Ourselves

A wealth of resources explore racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism

Bottom line: These valuable materials empower students to understand and address difficult ethical choices -- past and present.

Ken Burns

Dynamic video clips explore cultural themes throughout U.S. history

Bottom line: A huge time-saver and an effective way to share Ken Burns' brilliant documentaries with students.

That's Your Right

Card game gets students to wield the power of the Bill of Rights

Bottom line: This is a high-quality, surprisingly fun way to see how the Bill of Rights relates to everyday situations.

Zinn Education Project

Resources, lessons help teach a more inclusive version of U.S. history

Bottom line: Free downloadable resources encourage critical thinking and active learning in search of a more accurate picture of American history.


Explore survivor testimony with lessons, video on teacher-geared site

Bottom line: IWitness allows students to reflect upon the past, looking toward today’s values and society. Students build knowledge about the past using a dynamic, specific tool.

National Museum of the American Indian

Valuable resources offer needed perspectives, require adaptation

Bottom line: This site is great for the planning phase and has excellent resources for bringing in Native perspectives and histories, but it will need some tweaking to fit well into classrooms.


Civics site offers a PBS-guided approach to thoughtful debate

Bottom line: This is a powerful framework for building critical media literacy, but teachers might need to bring in some extra perspectives.

YR Media

Dynamic site harnesses creative young talent to speak truth to power

Bottom line: This fresh and socially aware website will draw students in with catchy -- often controversial -- topics, but keep them there with quality content.

Stanford History Education Group

High-quality, document-based lessons spark stellar historical inquiry

Bottom line: A gold mine of cross-curricular literacy lessons that encourage sound, research-backed strategies for reading, analysis, and critical thinking.

Voices of Democracy

Vast collection of primary source documents a solid starting point

Bottom line: A great place to begin when you want to make history feel more real, but "begin" is the operative word; plan on creating your own scaffolding.


Extensive, highly searchable collection of the world's constitutions

Bottom line: Quickly and easily access almost any country's constitution, locate an excerpt, or compare governments.


LA riot videos shake up dominant narrative

Bottom line: This artful re-examination of the '92 LA riot can offer new insights and diverse perspectives, if students don't get too lost in the design.

Liyla and the Shadows of War

Stark, arresting game offers emotional perspective on war's human toll

Bottom line: The short length and powerful themes make this an effective way to help students consider the brutal effects of war on families.

Parable of the Polygons

Dynamic interactive helps classrooms explore topics of bias, diversity

Bottom line: A fascinating way to address how communities become segregated due to individual bias.

The Republia Times

Unassuming editorial sim elegantly exposes the business of bias

Bottom line: What this game lacks in pizzazz it makes up for in smarts, and it's certain to get students thinking and talking about bias and media politics.

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

Deep, complex database is challenging but a peerless research tool

Bottom line: This is a highly academic site for better and for worse; it's filled with deep, research-backed resources and primary sources but is intimidating without clear guidance.

The 1619 Project

Striking resources can add depth, rigor to lessons on slavery's legacy

Bottom line: These high-level materials will add depth and context to lessons about slavery, but they need scaffolding to connect with students.

Get tips for using these tools in the classroom

See related resources