Review by Jennifer Sitkin, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2014

Teaching Tolerance

Thought-provoking classroom resources support diversity education

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies

  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Teachers say (12 Reviews)

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Pros: Free educational materials on interesting topics that promote diversity, equity, and respect in the classroom.

Cons: The sheer quantity of resources could overwhelm; teachers will need quite a bit of time to decide how best to use these materials.

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.

There are so many ways to use the Teaching Tolerance program that teachers could possibly get overwhelmed. It's best to browse the site and try out one activity at a time, as you gain familiarity with the resources. For professional development, teachers can regularly read the site's blog -- magazine articles and presentations can help improve teachers' overall practice to better meet their students’ needs.

For the classroom, teachers can use the ready-made lessons and film kits to implement anti-bias curriculum. For school communities, educators can start Mix It Up activities to break down divisions and promote new relationships between students. The possibilities here are extensive; it could be as little as putting a recommended tip into practice, or as extensive as creating an entire course using the program's lessons. Depending on their classroom and school environments, teachers should tailor their use of the materials to address the specific challenges they face.

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Teaching Tolerance is an anti-bias program for schools established by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The site itself, primarily aimed at educators, has materials to promote equity and reduce discrimination in schools. Teachers can use the site's classroom resources, professional development materials, its blog, as well as a host other resources. The site provides film kits and lesson plans on a range of topics, such as school integration, anti-bullying, social justice, and gender equity. 

The site's search function uses topic and grade-level filters to help teachers find appropriate lessons for their classes -- many of the materials here are Common Core-aligned. There's also a link to the Teaching Tolerance magazine, which any teacher can receive free of charge. The articles can help teachers further their own understanding of diversity issues, as well as provide tips that can easily be integrated into the classroom. Included on the site is an overview of the program's popular Mix It Up at Lunch activity, including detailed information on how to get started.

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Teachers will find the Teaching Tolerance website full of powerful lessons and activities for the classroom. The program has won numerous awards, and the lessons and activities here are researched as well as school-tested. For anyone looking to improve school climate and help students explore real issues like bullying and discrimination, this is the place to go. 

Lessons here go beyond simply teaching content outside the context of personal experience; students are encouraged to find personal meaning in everything they learn. For example, in a lesson titled "Defenders of Justice," students don't just learn about key figures in the civil rights movement, they also discuss how to apply the principles they learn about in their own lives. There are a variety of similar lessons that incorporate different instructional strategies to engage all types of learners. Music, videos, and personal stories help improve accessibility for all, including ELL and special needs students. Debates, literature analysis, and data comparisons provide challenge, even for high-achieving students.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The lessons and activities here are relevant to kids and bound to engage. Students are encouraged to make personal connections to the content, as well as take ownership and action in working toward a more tolerant world.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Curriculum guides and materials are organized by topic and grade level. The lesson plans and activities use a wide variety of instructional strategies to deepen kids' understanding and raise awareness about diversity issues.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The program gives teachers a plethora of resources to use in teaching these eye-opening lessons. Resources are easy to access, but more guidance for new visitors could help the site's materials reach a wider audience.

Common Sense Reviewer
Jennifer Sitkin Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 12 reviews) (12 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Bonnie S. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Engage Students in Timely Topics, Cultural Diversity, and Historical Perspectives

This site is very valuable as a repository for lessons, with supporting media, as well as a resource for research, where background information can be culled for teaching and inquiry based projects.

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