Sample Activities and Lessons
The activities provided on this website were selected to aid districts in developing K-12 curriculum which incorporates instruction on diversity and inclusion in an appropriate place. The lesson plans, units and resources highlight and promote instruction about diversity, including economic diversity, equity, inclusion, tolerance, and belonging in connection with gender and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, disabilities, and religious tolerance (N.J.S.A. 18A:35-4.36a). Educators should carefully review the activities and resources before using because they are best positioned to make decisions about what is most appropriate for their students.
- 26 Mini-Films for Exploring Race, Bias and Identity with Students
New York Times documentaries ranging in time from one to seven minutes that tackle issues of race, bias and identity. The mini-films are accompanied by teaching ideas, related readings and student activities.
- Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage and History in the U.S.
A Teacher’s Guide from EDSITEment offering a collection of lessons and resources for K-12 social studies, literature and arts classrooms that center around the experiences, achievements and perspectives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across U.S. history.
- Breaking Bias: Lessons from the Amistad
The New Jersey State Bar Foundation has created this curriculum and guide, which looks at African American history through an anti-bias lens and highlights the contributions that African Americans have made to the United States as well as the lessons our country has learned from this history.
- Children’s Books: Portrayals of People with Disabilities
A search tool containing information and synopses of children’s and young adult literature about or having to do with people with disabilities. The name of the author and illustrator, year of publication, publisher, appropriate grade level and award status of the book is provided.
- An Educator's Guide to Expanding Narratives about American History & Culture
A collection from PBS Learning Media showcasing the ideas, achievements and contributions of American people of all backgrounds across eras. The content highlighted within each topic is intended to expand the scope of voices centered in curricula by elevating Black, Indigenous, and People of Color stories.
- Emerging America Model Lessons on Disability History
A variety of inquiry-based, teacher-designed lessons that demonstrate strategies to enliven historical content through engaging learning activities and incorporating a rich mix of primary sources sets that align disability history with common U.S. History topics.
- Immigrant History Initiative
The organization produces videos, lesson plans and curriculum to educate and empower communities through the untold stories of immigrant diasporas in America.
- Let’s Talk: Facilitating Critical Conversations with Students
A guide for educators that offers classroom-ready strategies teachers can use to plan discussions and to facilitate conversations with students about social inequality and discrimination.
An online conversation platform that is purpose-built to cultivate skills and offer practice in civil dialogue between middle school, high school and college students in different parts of the United States. Like a modern-day “pen pal” program, Mismatch connects students across distance and guides them through structured, meaningful conversations with one another.
- Museum of disABILITY History
Virtual exhibits, lesson plans and primary resources that examine people with disabilities throughout history.
- National Geographic Race Discussion Guide for Teachers
A guide designed to foster authentic classroom dialogues, cultivate safe learning environments and provide students with the opportunity for cross-cultural understanding. This guide was published as a companion to “The Race Issue” (a special edition issue exploring race and diversity in the 21st century) and includes a wide range of resources.
- Native Knowledge (NK) 360° Education Initiative
The Smithsonian Institute provides educational materials, virtual student programs and teacher training that incorporate Native narratives, more comprehensive histories and accurate information to enlighten, and inform teaching and learning about Native America. NK360° challenges common assumptions about Native peoples and offers a view that includes not only the past, but also the vibrancy of Native peoples and cultures today.
- Teaching with Historic Places
A collection from the National Parks Service that offers more than 160 classroom-ready lesson plans that use historic sites as a means for exploring American history that highlights African American, American Indian, Asian American & Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Immigrant and Women’s history. Educators and their students can work through these online lesson plans directly on the computer or print them out and photocopy them for distribution.
- The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
The Museum offers an authentic and unique perspective on the American story. The website portal gives teachers access to lesson plans, curriculum sets by ethnic group and other tools to blend Asian and Pacific Islander histories into social studies, language arts and history courses.
To learn more about various topics, events, people(s) and time periods use primary and secondary source collections such as the Digital Public Library of America, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Internet History Sourcebooks Project, Library of Congress, National Archives and Smithsonian Institute.
- Exploring Gender Stereotypes Through Role Plays
The lesson plan offers role play activities and essential questions that provide children a chance to use creative, dramatic expression to consider not only the roots of gender stereotypes, but also the consequences and strategies for counteracting them.
- Family First Grade Unit
An inquiry driven unit that engages students in expanding their understandings of families and the idea that families can be both similar and different. Although much of family life may be shared—language, religion, culture and traditions—there are important differences across these elements. The compelling question “How can families be the same and different?” offers students opportunities to explore a range of family dimensions, such as structure, activities and traditions.
- Holidays Kindergarten Unit
An inquiry driven unit that encourages kindergartners to expand their study of self and others by deepening their understanding of the role of traditions, holidays and symbols in establishing cultural identity and unity. The compelling question “What makes holidays special?” reflects an enduring conversation about how and why people engage in ritual and tradition.
- Identity Kindergarten Unit
A kindergarten inquiry driven unit that leads students through an investigation of self by recognizing that all humans have both unique and similar characteristics. By investigating the compelling question “Is everyone unique?” students begin to see how they are similar to and different from their classmates.
- What is Ableism?
The lesson plan enables students to share what they already know about physical disabilities, stereotypes regarding people with disabilities and issues of fairness and accessibility. In addition, students will start learning vocabulary for talking about ableism.
- Analyzing Gender Stereotypes in the Media
Students analyze and critique messages about gender that they get from various media. Students will focus on toys and toy advertisements, challenging themselves to think past what advertisements tell them about their gender identity.
- Exploring Your Immigrant Stories
Through hands-on exercises, students will discover similarities and differences they share with other children and learn to appreciate diversity among their peers and the diversity of immigrants all over the world.
- The Rich Tapestry of Religion in the United States
The three lesson unit helps students assess the religious diversity of the United States, explore different religious and non-religious worldviews, and consider how freedom of religion relates to their own lives and the lives of others.
- Understanding My Family's History
After exposure to relevant literature in class, students will research their family history by interviewing their parents. They will use this information along with visual props to tell their story to classmates.
- In My Other Life
Students examine the world through multiple perspectives to learn about examples of what it might be like to grow up in Asian, African or Latin American countries.
- Native American Cultures Across the U.S.
Activities for students to explore multiple sources and perspectives to understand diversity within and across Native Americans. In addition, students will compare how American Indians are represented in today's society with their actual customs, traditions and way of life.
- Poverty and Unemployment: Exploring the Connections
The lesson explores the connections between poverty and unemployment. Discovering that there are not enough living-wage jobs available for everyone who wants one, students begin to see how poverty is caused by systemic factors, not individual shortcomings.
- Underreported Stories of Migration
The unit asks students to consider the following questions: How are migrants portrayed in the news and media? Who gets to tell the story of migration, and what aspects of the story tend to go underreported? How do these stories and the perspectives from which they’re told, impact our own perceptions of migration?
- Brick by Brick: Exploring and Archiving the History of the City of Newark
Students explore the intersection of the history of the City of Newark (aka Brick City) and global migration using a variety of historical documents, texts and visuals in which everyday people and the disenfranchised occupy an important space of representation.
- Debunking Stereotypes About Muslims and Islam
An activity that is designed to help students identify similarities and differences between the United States Muslim population and the entire United States population.
- Disability History in the Classroom
Lesson plans that integrate disability history with larger themes commonly addressed in secondary U.S. history, civics, government and law courses. All the lessons use primary sources, background essays, provide pedagogical objectives and include a study guide.
- A Historical Primer on Economic (In) Equality
Classroom experiences that critically investigate the causes and meaning of poverty in our own nation offer students tools for change, and new ways to interpret the world around them.
- Not “Indians,” Many Tribes: Native American Diversity
An EDSITEment lesson plan designed to bring awareness of Native American diversity as students learn about three vastly different Native groups. Students will explore archival documents such as vintage photographs, traditional stories, photos of artifacts and recipes to understand how the interaction between environment and culture influenced Native American diversity.
- Perspectives and Their Implications: Riding the Wave of Human Connection
Activities in which students explore concepts of migration through the lens of cultural identity and perspective. What are elements of culture that shape us, shape how we see others, and shape how we are seen in return? Students will investigate shifts in cultural norms and stereotypes specific to forced migration and captivity as depicted in The Tempest by William Shakespeare and supplemented through a variety of texts, discussions, and reflections.
- Restoring Women to World Studies
The unit enables students to better appreciate how gender functions within different societies at different times; understand how it both shapes individual lives and offers individuals opportunities to shape society; see similarities in women’s experiences as well as differences; and appreciate that experiences of gender are influenced by other categories of identity (class, race, ethnicity, etc.) and are not frozen or merely restrictive but changing and challenged by women who respond to traditional understandings of gender roles and hierarchies.
- Teaching About Rights: Historical Context, Contemporary Challenges
The unit is intended for world History, World Geography and Comparative Government courses. Throughout the unit, students use primary sources to examine the gradual bestowal of rights on different groups, the rights currently guaranteed by individual countries and international bodies, and the areas where rights continue to be in conflict.
- The LGBTQ Rights Movement: An Introduction
The book explores the broader diversity of the LGBTQ community, especially in terms of race and ethnicity, creating a collective portrait of the LGBTQ movement that reflects this diversity. The book is divided between a readable, detailed, concise historical chronology and individual biographies of key figures in the history of the LGBTQ movement.
- Whites, Blacks, and the Blues
A lesson that enables students to explore the intersections of whites, blacks, and others around the blues and deepen their understanding of discrimination and prejudice. They will consider the ways in which music can, or cannot, create opportunities for people of different cultures, and with varying degrees of power, to relate to one another and find common ground.
The resources provided on this webpage are for informational purposes only. All resources must meet the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) accessibility guidelines. Currently, the NJDOE aims to conform to Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). However, the NJDOE does not guarantee that linked external sites conform to Level AA of the WCAG 2.1. Neither the Department of Education nor its officers, employees or agents specifically endorse, recommend or favor these resources or the organizations that created them. Please note that the Department of Education has not reviewed or approved the materials related to the programs.