October 17, 2008

Speak Up, Speak Out: Robert F. Kennedy, Champion of Social Justice

Source: RFK Center and NYSUT

RFK Curriculum Materials

We are pleased and honored to provide you with the accompanying unit lessons and resource materials designed to help instill in students the concept of social justice and the principles of a just society, using the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy.

"Speak Up, Speak Out: Robert F. Kennedy, Champion of Social Justice" draws on Kennedy’s mission and vision to help students grasp the principles and philosophy of social justice. Individual unit lessons have been created specifically for grades 4, 8 and 11. The materials have been developed by leading practitioners with input from primary sources who were close associates of Robert Kennedy. The lessons are consistent with New York State standards and are designed to achieve the standards through study of the life of one of our nation’s greatest heroes.

This project is the result of a collaboration of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation, New York State United Teachers, the Office of the Governor of the State of New York, and the New York State Education Department.

RFK Lesson Plans - Grade 4 (PDF)

  • RFK - Grade 4 - Introduction
  • RFK - Grade 4 - Lesson 1: What is Social Justice? What is Social Injustice?
  • RFK - Grade 4 - Lesson 2: Robert F. Kennedy: Leader of Social Justice
  • RFK - Grade 4 - Lesson 3: Bullying: A Social Injustice
  • RFK - Grade 4 - Lesson 4: The Power of a Group to Make Change
  • RFK - Grade 4 - Lesson 5: Speak Up Speak Out

RFK Lesson Plans - Grade 8 (PDF)

  • RFK - Grade 8 - Introduction
  • RFK - Grade 8 - Lesson 1: Social Justice and Robert Kennedy
  • RFK - Grade 8 - Lesson 2: Disenfranchisement of African-Americans
  • RFK - Grade 8 - Lesson 3: The Fight for Justice Continues
  • RFK - Grade 8 - Lesson 4: Bullied to Buy
  • RFK - Grade 8 - Lesson 5: A Community Working Together

RFK Lesson Plans - Grade 11 (PDF)

  • RFK - Grade 11 - Introduction
  • RFK - Grade 11 - Lesson 1: What is Social Justice?
  • RFK - Grade 11 - Lesson 2: Champion of Social Justice
  • RFK - Grade 11 - Lesson 3: The Civil Rights Movement
  • RFK - Grade 11 - Lesson 4: Champion for People Living in Poverty
  • RFK - Grade 11 - Lesson 5: How Can Student Action Make a Difference?

Coming soon to your classroom: lesson plans, RFK poster

Kara E. Smith - New York Teacher - October 2008

A new generation of students can learn about the work of Robert F. Kennedy, thanks to a groundbreaking partnership between NYSUT and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial.

The statewide union spearheaded the creation of original lesson plan guides for fourth, eighth and 11th grades highlighting the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy.

A former U.S. attorney general, Kennedy was a U.S. senator from New York when he was assassinated while running for president in 1968.

The project was carried out in collaboration with the office of Gov. David Paterson and the State Education Department, and underwritten in part through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

"Kennedy had a tremendous commitment to social justice and we're thrilled to help students throughout New York state learn about the many ways he advocated for those who were unable to advocate for themselves," said NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi.

The packets, containing the lesson guides, a classroom poster and other materials, will be mailed to leaders and grade-level teachers in early November. The next issue of New York Teacher will provide in-depth coverage of the project.

Lesson plans for "Speak Up, Speak Out: Robert F. Kennedy, Champion of Social Justice," were developed this summer by a team of educators to showcase Kennedy's commitment to social justice. A highlight of the summer lesson plan writing workshop was a presentation by Ambassador William vanden Heuvel, Kennedy's special assistant from 1961-64, who played a key role in the desegregation of the Prince Edward County, Va., school system.

"I was honored to be a part of this project," said Walter Robertson, Dunkirk Teachers Association, a social studies teacher who participated in the guide's creation.

The lesson plans link Kennedy's commitment to social justice with New York state standards in social studies and English language arts. Educators will have access to lesson guides on the NYSUT website.

In November, New York City's Triborough Bridge will be renamed in Kennedy's honor 40 years after his assassination. NYSUT and its development partners hope educators will use the bridge renaming as a catalyst for incorporating the lessons into their curriculum.