Building Culturally Inclusive Classrooms

For more than 30 years, the content in TCI’s social studies curriculum has continually evolved based on learning standards and feedback from teachers, students, and parents. While we have always embraced change and focused on including diverse perspectives, we have redoubled that effort over the past year. We have reviewed our resources to identify areas where content can be made more inclusive.

Below are a few examples of changes made in the past year to ensure our programs are culturally responsive and encompass as many groups as possible.

We are proud of these changes, but we are always open to suggestions for how we can do even better. Please feel free to share your ideas for improvements here. Our team will review and implement changes as appropriate.

Program Level Updates

  • A Culturally Responsive Curriculum area was added to Program Support that includes best practices in teaching as well as toolkits and rubrics that identify areas where the content addresses specific cultural concerns.
  • Citizenship content has been expanded to include a Citizenship toolkit and a reference area with relevant helpful resources.
  • A Current Events toolkit was added that incorporates a variety of resources to have meaningful classroom conversations about current events.
  • In our Citizenship and Doing Democracy toolkits, quotations were reviewed and updated to better reflect ethnic and gender diversity.
  • A Current Connections area was added to the site to share timely resources with teachers.

Terminology Changes

  • TCI’s methodology has been updated to “Cooperative, Inclusive Classroom.”
  • For the online text of all current programs, terms such as “slave” and “master” are being replaced with phrases such as “person who had been enslaved” and “enslaver” to emphasize the agency and experiences of enslaved people.
  • For all current programs, there is lesson support to give context to the terms “Native American” and “American Indian,” and how those terms are viewed by different groups.
  • The word “slave” is being replaced with “enslaved person” for new print and online editions.
  • For new print and online editions, “Black” and “White” are being capitalized in reference to racial groups.
  • For new print and online editions, “American Indian” is being updated to “Native American” (Grades K–5) or “indigenous” (Grades 6–12).

Specific Examples of Expanded and Improved Content

  • In an updated activity, students analyze primary sources from various ethnic groups to understand the immigration experiences of different groups over time. (Social Studies Alive! Regions of Our Country, 2022 Edition, Lesson 3)
  • In a lesson about explorers, the Columbus section now discusses Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and a primary source from Bartolome de Las Casas was added to provide more perspectives. (Social Studies Alive! America’s Past, 2022 Edition, Lesson 5)
  • A new Primary Source reading section—Sojourner Truth: One Speech, Two Versions—adds perspectives related to her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech. (History Alive! United States Through Industrialism, Lesson 18)
  • A new Explore reading section—The Murders of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers—adds additional context and depth to the civil rights movement. (History Alive! Pursuing American Ideals, Lesson 44)
  • An updated section Protecting Rights—includes a subsection online and added for reprint about racial tensions and the Black Lives Matter movement. (History Alive! Pursuing American Ideals, Lesson 59)
  • Updated lesson and activity notes focus on primary sources when learning about the Civil War. (Social Studies Alive! America’s Past, Lesson 20)
  • New Enhancing Learning tips with links to outside resources from Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance) were added to support teachers in discussing the Black Lives Matter movement, along with other topics. These resources include lesson plans, primary sources, activities, posters, and videos available for topics such as Race & Ethnicity, Religion, Ability, Class, Immigration, and Gender & Sexual Identity. (Social Studies Alive! America’s Past, Lessons 8 and 20; History Alive! The United States Through Industrialism, Lessons 20 and 29; History Alive! Pursuing American Ideals, Lessons 57 and 59)
  • A new Enhancing Learning tip links to outside resources from the Equal Justice Initiative with resources that encourage students to go beyond lesson case studies and include current topics, such as the Black Lives Matter movement. (Government Alive! Power, Politics, and You, Lessons 7 and 16)
  • New Enhancing Learning tips discuss the complexities of nomenclature for indigenous peoples of the Americas. A website is included that shares the perspectives of six different people who trace their roots to indigenous tribes. Specific tips for using these resources with students are included to support meaningful conversations. (Social Studies Alive! Regions of Our Country, Lesson 3; Social Studies Alive! America’s Past, Lesson 2)

Biography Bank Expansion

  • The biography bank has been added to all social studies and science programs.
  • New people are being added, including Katherine Johnson, Margaret Thatcher, and James Armistead Lafayette.
  • Biographies are being reviewed to find opportunities to expand and update content.

Please share comments and any additional suggestions for improvements here.

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