June 15, 2009

How do you educate students about justice? Let NYSUT know!

Source: New York Teacher
Caption: An easy-to-use template for submitting lesson plans online is available for download in the Microsoft Word format.
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NYSUT invites you to share your lesson plans dedicated to educating students about justice, and changing the world for the better.

The statewide union is developing an online center - Speak Up, Speak Out: Educating About Justice - to showcase lessons that cut across the curriculum and share a common theme: a commitment to furthering social justice and giving students "hands-on" experiences.

NYSUT is encouraging educators from pre-K through college to contribute lesson plans on a variety of topics that help students achieve state standards while giving them opportunities to become active as citizens and community members.

The project "builds on and enhances" the union's well-received series of lessons drawn from the social justice legacy of Robert F. Kennedy, says NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi.

"Teachers and college faculty at all levels and in all disciplines teach themes of social justice every day, whether the topic is civil rights, ecology or poverty," NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira added. "We want to showcase and share quality lessons that offer students an opportunity to think critically, debate and engage on these issues, and become involved in improving the world they live in."

Lesson plans will be peer-reviewed and shared on online. They also will link to opportunities for students to become involved.

"As I visit classrooms across the state, I continue to be impressed by the thoughtfulness and creativity that teachers bring to topics of social justice," Neira said. "Our goal is to capture and share our members' best lessons and practices."

Neira said the online center will continue to evolve "and we welcome contributions on an ongoing basis." Peer review of the first round of submissions will begin this summer.

"I invite our members to take advantage of this opportunity to share their wonderful work with colleagues across the state," Neira said. "Lessons that not only educate but inspire debate and action are one of the many ways teachers change lives for the better."

Iannuzzi said educators can draw upon the many definitions of social justice and the many responses about how to make the world a better place.

"We expect the lessons shared through this center will be a starting point for continuing creativity and engagement on these critical issues," Iannuzzi said.

NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler, who spearheads the union's social justice agenda, said this commitment "underscores our daily work and manifests itself in many ways: in our support for farm worker rights, in our work with the New York State Labor-Religion Coalition and other service groups, and in our efforts to inspire new generations of students to improve the world they live in."

Cutler encouraged educators to review the series of lessons created last year in a ground-breaking partnership between NYSUT and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Social Justice. Those lessons paved the way for this new online initiative. (To see them go to www.nysut.org/rfk .)

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