Revised Social Justice Lesson Plan

Social Justice Lesson Plan Template

Contextual information: Social Justice in Symbols

Grade level: 8th

Subject: Social Studies

Lesson time length: 80 Minutes

Characteristics of the class: (multi-age or grade level, developmental level, etc.) The class is made up of 29 students, 15 girls and 14 boys. There are 5 students with IEPs and special modifications.

Social Justice Standards (Teaching Tolerance): (Check all that apply)

Identity X 1. Students will develop positive social identities based on their membership in multiple groups in society. X2. Students will develop language and historical and cultural knowledge that affirm and accurately describe their membership in multiple identity groups. ___3. Students will recognize that people’s multiple identities interact and create unique and complex individuals. ___4. Students will express pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people. X5. Students will recognize traits of the dominant culture, their home culture and other cultures and understand how they negotiate their own identity in multiple spaces. Diversity X 6. Students will express comfort with people who are both similar to and different from them and engage respectfully with all people. X 7. Students will develop language and knowledge to accurately and respectfully describe how people (including themselves) are both similar to and different from each other and others in their identity groups. X  8. Students will respectfully express curiosity about the history and lived experiences of others and will exchange ideas and beliefs in an open-minded way. __X_9. Students will respond to diversity by building empathy, respect, understanding and connection. X 10. Students will examine diversity in social, cultural, political and historical contexts rather than in ways that are superficial or oversimplified.
Justice X 11. Students will recognize stereotypes and relate to people as individuals rather than representatives of groups. __X_12. Students will recognize unfairness on the individual level (e.g., biased speech) and injustice at the institutional or systemic level (e.g., discrimination). ___13. Students will analyze the harmful impact of bias and injustice on the world, historically and today. __X_14. Students will recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics. ___15. Students will identify figures, groups, events and a variety of strategies and philosophies relevant to the history of social justice around the world.   Action __X_16. Students will express empathy when people are excluded or mistreated because of their identities and concern when they themselves experience bias. X 17. Students will recognize their own responsibility to stand up to exclusion, prejudice and injustice. X 18. Students will speak up with courage and respect when they or someone else has been hurt or wronged by bias. X 19. Students will make principled decisions about when and how to take a stand against bias and injustice in their everyday lives and will do so despite negative peer or group pressure. ___20. Students will plan and carry out collective action against bias and injustice in the world and will evaluate what strategies are most effective.
X Empowered learner- Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. X Computational thinker-  Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.
  Digital citizen-  Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical.   Creative communicator-  Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
  Knowledge constructor- Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.   X Global collaborator- Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.
  Innovative designer- Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.    

 ISTE Standards for Students (click all that apply)

Purpose/Rationale: We see symbols every day in all aspects of our lives. Symbols are used to convey ideas, qualities, emotions, material objects/products, opinions and beliefs. Unfortunately, symbols are also used to convey hate and bias. Lately, we have seen a lot of hate symbol graffiti in public spaces and specifically the swastika, which in most circumstances is understood as an expression of anti- Semitism. There has reportedly been an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, including the display of swastikas on school and college campuses, sidewalks, places of worship, online, on doors, buildings, dorm rooms, buses, school and public bathrooms, vehicles and other places. The proliferation of other hate symbols is also of increasing concern.

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to reflect on the importance of symbols in our society, understand more about specific hate symbols, and identify strategies for responding to and eliminating hate symbols.

Materials and Technology Tools:

Instruction sheet




Students will be able to analyze the history of different hate symbols by reading an article and conducting research.

Students will be able to evaluate the use of hate symbols by creating their own podcast and discuss solutions to the issue.

Instructional Procedures: (please remember to integrate technology tools)

Introductory Activity:

Begin with a discussion about hate symbols- have students write down what a hate symbol is to them and what it means. Have them then share with a partner. Then, Show a variety of images of Symbols (positive, neutral and negative) and as you show them—one at a time— ask students: What does this symbol mean or represent? 
Elicit and define symbol as a person or a concept that expresses, represents, stands for or suggests an idea, quality, belief, action or material object. Explain that symbols take the form of words, sounds, gestures, ideas or visual images and are used to convey other ideas. Ask students to share other examples of visual images or symbols. As examples are shared, explain that they can be (1) neutral like a logo for a product or social media platform, (2) positive like an emoji or (3) negative like a swastika. If students don’t share negative or hate symbols, ask: What symbols of hate have you seen and/or heard about lately? Make three columns on the board/smart board and put each of the symbols in each of the categories as students share examples of symbols: 
List as many as possible and begin to focus in on the negative or hate symbols, adding as many examples as possible. Explain to students that we are going to focus on understanding the origins, meaning and current day usage of several hate symbols. Explain to students that lately, we have seen a lot of hate symbol graffiti in public spaces and specifically swastikas, which in most circumstances are understood as an expression of anti-Semitism.? Explain that since 1945, the swastika has served as the most significant and notorious of hate symbols about anti-Semitism and white supremacy for most of the world outside of Asia. Explain that we are going to discuss this hate symbol as well as others. 

Developing Activity:

Part 1: (30 mins)

Explain that the class will be using a “jigsaw” strategy to learn more about hate symbols. Divide students into six small groups and explain that the jigsaw strategy provides an opportunity for small groups of students to learn about different aspects of a topic and then teach each other. 

  1. To manage the jigsaw, have students count off by 6s and assign each number one symbol from the Background Reading on Hate Symbols to read (uploaded to Google Classroom on their chromebooks). Allow ten minutes for them to read silently. Have students in each group sit in groups to read their article. 
Group #1: Swastika
Group #2: Burning Cross Group #3: Confederate Flag Group #4: Noose
Group #5: SS Bolts
Group #6: Celtic Cross 

  2. Divide students into new small groups so that each group has someone who read a different article (i.e. each group will have a person that read articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6). When the groups are formed, give each student 2–3 minutes to summarize their assigned article and share information about the hate symbol they learned about. They should address the following if it was included in their reading or preliminary research: (1) the origin of the symbol, (2) the group(s) targeted, and (3) how the symbol is used currently. 

After the small group sharing and discussion, reconvene the class and engage all students in a class discussion by asking the following questions:

Was it easy or difficult to summarize the information in your article and share with others? 

What new information did you learn by reading your article and hearing about other hate symbols? 

What makes each of these symbols unique? What do they all have in common? 

When people see these hate symbols in their everyday lives, how do you think they feel when they see them? How do you think targeted group(s) feel when they see them? 

What do you think the impact of hate symbols are on individuals? Communities? And society at large? 

What are some things we can do to prevent and stop hate symbols from being written/drawn?

Part 2: (20-25 mins)

Have students work in their groups to create a podcast expressing how they feel about these symbols and how they can be used. Students may conduct further research if they wish, or as a group they can just discuss how they feel/ possible solutions for the problem. Each student must contribute in their groups on the podcast. Each group must come up with a solution they feel can contribute to solving this problem within their community. The podcast should be AT LEAST 10 minutes long, and MAX of 20 mins long.

Concluding Activity:

Have students think about a symbol they would like to create that expresses the opposite of hate—for example: love, respect, diversity, inclusiveness or friendship. Have students say aloud what those symbols would look like and if time permits, give students a few minutes to draw those symbols and then share with the class.



Concluding drawing

Observation of Part 1 activity  

Feedback from peers: (Located in Discussion) –Fix the title

-Add to the context of the class


Address the following:

  1. What did you do to insure that you had met your objectives in this lesson?

I reviewed my objectives as I wrote each part of my lesson plan. I ensured that my students will understand the difference between a symbol and a hate symbol, and that my students understand where they come from. I then had my students evaluate these symbols and what can be done in the community to prevent these hate symbols from appearing within our community again.

  • What were some of the strengths in the lesson?

I gave students a lot of leeway. I allow students to go about their podcast freely- they can make it however they want. I also think I scaffolded it well- presenting vital information that they will need to form their own opinions on the topic and allowing them to talk about it in a group setting and to brainstorm possible solutions to ending the problem.

  • What are some things that could be improved in this lesson?

If students struggle with creating a podcast, I would include more structure- adding questions that as a group they should discuss and answer. However, I would like to see how they do with little structure first and more student centered.

Combating Stereotype Threats

The article, “Reducing Stereotype Threats” retrieved from the Teaching Center Website, defines stereotypes as a”phenomenon in which a person’s concerns about confirming a negative stereotype can lead that person to underperform on a challenging assessment or test.” In other words, those who feel they fit a certain stereotype, will underperform due to the pressure of confirming their stereotype threat, leaving their performance negatively impacted. Unfortunately, this happens everyday within our classrooms.

Numerous studies have been conducted which explore the idea of stereotype threat. There is significant evidence that this happens to our students who feel under pressure to not confirm their own stereotypes and in the end under perform on assessments and other challenges. Fortunately, there are strategies teachers can use within the classroom to combat these stereotypes.

Teachers can begin by conducting fair testing and assessments, that means free of any bias. Students should be able to understand that testing is used to measure their abilities and not their values. Teachers should also value diversity in the classroom and look up to diverse role models. They should also promote a communitive environment where they can share ideas and learn together as one team and understand that failure is a chance for them to learn together. Teachers should also be giving positive feedback to their students, even when they don’t answer a question correctly, they should praise the attempt and always look for ways the student has grown. Lastly, teachers should always promote a positive growth mind set so that students worry less about appearing “smart” and put more effort into learning.

Steele, Claude. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi: and other clues to how stereotypes affect us. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

“Reducing Stereotype Threat.”