The events that transpired January 6th, 2021 at Capitol Hill are devastating. I was glued to my screen, energy draining out of me, exhausted. So many questions were running through my head:
- How did this happen?
- How were law makers allowing this to happen?
- How were community leaders letting this happen?
- Where was the security team for Capitol Hill?
- What is the future of our democracy?
- Why wasn’t this mob being treated the same way POC are treated during protests?
- Why were some people calling the destruction of property, looting, loss of life, and trespassing “peaceful”?
There’s so much on my mind. So I couldn’t imagine how overwhelming all this must be for students.
The American Federation of Teachers president wrote on Twitter about how difficult this is for teachers and linked to resources as well.
I decided to contribute and look for free resources you can use with your students today.
iCivics has a wealth of free civic education curriculum and civic education games that are completely free for teachers to use. From these lessons, I picked out the News Literacy unit. With news articles seemingly available on every social platform and news channel from Comedy Central to CNN to Fox, it is incredibly important for students to be able to determine what news articles are hyperbole and which ones are stating the plain facts. This News Literacy article also goes over how news companies monetize their articles, bias, opinions, satire, and the all important algorithms which determine what shows up on social media feeds under suggested tabs.
iCivics also has an abundance of resources on Peaceful Transfer of Power, Teaching Controversial Issues,
This is a lesson developed by Facing History and Ourselves. It gives comprehensive information on how to approach discussing the events of January 6th, 2021 at the US Capitol, including a self-reflection so that teachers can process what happened themselves, a conversation with colleagues, ideas on how to adapt it for remote learning, and sharing and creating a safe space with students in mind.
The Social Dilemma is a documentary on Netflix explaining not only the addictive nature of social media, but also how a person can spiral down the click funnel of conspiracy theories, straight from the mouths of the people who developed these technologies. A fictional family has a battle with social media addiction and exemplifies how socials can manipulate how we think while the big minds behind Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest explain what they did and how they regret what their technology has become.
This can be a great segue into a conversation on how blatant lies can be perpetuated in a society where the entirety of human knowledge is available at our fingertips.
The New York Times writers put out an article on debunked voter fraud claims as we approached Jan 6. This could be a good jumping off point for educators in discussing the elections. Of course, students may then be curious about how misinformation is getting out into the world, especially with all the information available on the internet. I would caution teachers to be strict with their discussion norms so that the safe space for discourse is maintained.
My friend Heather Cianci from It’s Lit Teaching has a great resource for analyzing any social justice literature. Social justice is incredibly important when breaking down current events in our day to day lives, and it needs to be integrated into our everyday curriculum. If you decide to integrate more social justice novels this year, this would make a great addition to your lessons.