The Southern Poverty Law Center released a report called "Teaching Hard History: American Slavery" which explores how little American high school students know about the origins of American slavery and the government's role in perpetuating it. Teaching History and Social Studies in an accurate and inclusive way is particularly challenging because most educators' understanding of American History is unfinished/incomplete. The Integrating Inclusive Content strategy is a resource that contains exemplary lessons and content that venture beyond what's usually included in the curriculum. It supports teachers to provide students with rich, inclusive learning experiences that reflect the dynamic perspectives and experiences of those whose lives and histories are not always reflected in the curriculum.
1. Review BetterLesson's Inclusive History Lessons and Resources document linked below. Once you've identified a resource you'd like to explore with your students (i.e. Using Textual Evidence to Gather Perspectives About the Trail of Tears or Answering Text-Dependent Questions to Understand Life in Harlem During the Harlem Renaissance), use BetterLesson's Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning (CRTL) Lesson Plan Template (resource below) to customize the lesson plan in a way that is responsive to the needs of your learners.
2. Extend the learning by reviewing and choosing additional lessons to teach from the list of Inclusive History Lessons and Resources (i.e. Jane Elliot's A Class Divided, Day 1 and Day 2 or Clint Smith's History Reconsidered which are linked in the Extending the Learning section below).
3. Debrief the lessons with your students by asking them questions such as, "What were some of your most powerful learning moments during this lesson?" and "What was most challenging about this lesson?"
Using inclusive content to provide students with rich, inclusive learning experiences that reflect the dynamic perspectives and experiences of those whose lives and histories are not always reflected in the curriculum is an excellent way to support students with disabilities. Using inclusive content as a tool for students requires significant executive functioning (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.), emotional regulation, reading, and written expression skills. In order to support students with disabilities in these areas, consider the following modifications:
Use structured handouts that help students with task initiation as well as provide clear benchmarks (bolded words, bulleted lists) to assess task completion when using inclusive lesson materials.
Use visual timers and verbal reminders to help students with task initiation and task completion when using inclusive lesson materials.
Depending upon the number of students with disabilities present in a classroom, teachers should consider increasing the amount of time they spend on explicitly teaching norms for inclusive content lessons. The first few rounds of inclusive content lessons used in a classroom should be followed by explicit individual and whole group feedback on engagement and task completion.
If multiple teachers are present, careful thought should be put into co-teaching models and how they integrate into a differentiated inclusive content lesson plan. See the resources in the resource section below for more information.
Integrating inclusive content is a great way to ensure learners are exposed to a diverse course of study that includes a full portrait of American History that reflects the perspectives and experiences of more groups than traditional curriculum may.
English learners may be required to use all four domains of language, reading, writing, speaking, and listening when engaging in activities using this strategy. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:
Explore the resources below to learn more about the importance of integrating inclusive content in classrooms. Several of these resources are also videos that you could share with colleagues or students to discuss the importance of integrating inclusive content.
Math teachers can refer to The Problem with Story Problems article by Anita Bright and Bec Young in the resources below for support in creating inclusive math lessons.
1. How can you ensure that the historical agency of people of color is explored in your inclusive content?
2. How can you ensure that the content you include featuring people of color is not only about oppression and struggle?
The Social Justice Standards support educators to explore how stereotypes affect us, how systemic discrimination influences our world, and how privilege influences justice. Applying and reflecting on learnings will deepen educators' anti-bias teaching practice.
Explore the webquests and role plays below for ideas of how to integrate inclusive content into your classroom.
Explore the "Setting the Stage" lesson by 5th grade BetterLesson ELA Master Teacher, Teresa Klein below.
Explore the "Applying TPCASTT To Two Poems" lesson by 9th grade BetterLesson ELA Master Teacher, Sirinam Khalsa, and the TPCASTT Poetry graphic organizer that accompanies the lesson below.
Explore the "Students Read Countee Cullen's Incident" lesson by 9th grade BetterLesson ELA Master Teacher, Sirinam Khalsa below.
Explore the "Poetry Station Rotations" lesson by 6th grade ELA BetterLesson Master Teacher Amy Coughanaur below.