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Talking About Race and Bias

A snapshot of tested resources to encourage classroom conversations

July 28, 2016
A circle of hands placed on top of one another, suggesting unity

After a summer punctuated by killings in the streets of American cities, many are hoping that schools will become places of dialogue, where broad conversations about race, racism, and systemic inequality can flourish. The Making Caring Common initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education offers a sampling of vetted resources [PDF] that provide guidance for educators who want to start these conversations. The resources are not meant to be comprehensive, but they offer a foothold and a place to begin. They include lesson plans and activities, best practices, and videos and reflection exercises. See our excerpt below.

This collection is one of several resource lists from MCC; the others focus on social media, sexual orientation and gender identity, and social emotional learning and the Common Core.

Best Practices

Creating an Anti-Bias Classroom
A set of practices from the Anti-Defamation League that K–12 educators can incorporate into their daily routines to foster a respectful and inclusive classroom. Also helpful: these additional anti-bias resources from the ADL.

Speak Up at School
This guide [PDF] from Teaching Tolerance provides strategies for responding to remarks made by students and by other adults and gives guidance for helping students learn to speak up. The guide also focuses on preparing adults to act as models for students.

Race: A Teacher’s Guide
A substantive teaching tool to help middle and high school educators understand and address race and human variation, from the Race Project.

Group Activity

Understanding Stereotypes
A lesson plan [PDF] from Discovery Education that helps students understand how assumptions can lead to stereotypes and unfair judgments about individuals and groups — and how biases affect our lives and our society. 

Writing Reflection

What's Your Frame?
A classroom activity from Teaching Tolerance that encourages students to reflect on their individual cultures and histories, their backgrounds, the norms they grew up with, and their values. The goal is to help students enlarge their perspective and recognize diversity of belief and background. 

Next Steps

Read and download Making Caring Common’s full resource guide to race, culture, and ethnicity [PDF].

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