The site has an extensive collection of powerful curricula that teachers can use as-is or adapt to their students' needs. Lessons tend to be one to two hours long and units can last a few weeks, so teachers should take time to plan and think about the best ways to integrate these materials into their classroom. Most lessons are designed for whole-class instruction, but supplementary materials can be used for independent research and review.
Due to the sensitive nature of the topics covered, it's important to create a safe environment that nurtures respect for multiple perspectives and open discussion. If possible, teachers should attend one of the professional development sessions, not only to learn about any new content, but also to pick up some instructional strategies associated with the program.Continue reading Show less
Facing History and Ourselves is a free website with resources for teaching about and combating hatred and bigotry. The website has free lesson plans, units, resource collections, videos, and podcasts, and the materials here are interdisciplinary as well as Common Core-aligned. For example, the social studies unit, Choices in Little Rock, explores civic choices and includes supplementary writing strategies and prompts.
Educators receive immediate access to most of the materials after they create an online profile. There are curricula on a variety of topics, including the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, Civil Rights, Darfur, and Bullying. Facing History also offers a number of professional development opportunities for educators, including webinars, workshops, and after-school classes. A fee is associated with most of the professional development programs; however, some free webinars are available and financial assistance is offered.
Facing History and Ourselves offers engaging curriculum resources that are intended to help students become socially responsible adults. Studies have shown that these materials are effective in reducing prejudice, encouraging tolerance, increasing knowledge, and improving academic skills. As an example, Facing History’s core unit on the Holocaust, Decision-Making in Times of Injustice, begins with students creating a class contract to foster a respectful environment. The unit continues with an examination of the choices made by those living in Germany during the WWII era. As students study the history, an emphasis is placed on helping them build personal connections, as seen with the "Where I'm From" poetry activity.
Overall, the site is well-organized and easy to navigate, and support for teachers is extensive. Introductions explain the rationale for each lesson, and there are detailed procedures, links to relevant materials, and extension activities. In all, students can certainly benefit from participating in these powerful lessons.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.
Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.
Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.