What Really Happened? Comparing Stories of the First Thanksgiving

Why are there so many different interpretations of what happened on the first Thanksgiving? What values do the various versions reflect? In this lesson, students will examine different versions of the story of the first Thanksgiving, evaluate the evidence that supports each version and discuss why the history of Thanksgiving is so contentious. Grades 11-12

Breathing New Life into Old Traditions

WEB LESSON Students investigate the role of ceremonies and other traditions of Native American cultures by first examining the Inuit culture. Students then research various Native American nations, focusing on religion, daily life, ceremonies, and current existence of the nations, and create posters that visually depict their research. MS-HS

What Really Happened? Stories of the First Thanksgiving

WEB LESSON What's at stake in interpreting the story [of the First Thanksgiving]? These questions help students start digging into why we remember the past in particular ways and compare stories about the past generated by collective memory with evidence-based accounts of the past. In groups, students read accounts of the first Thanksgiving from one of four points of view: mainstream accounts, Native American educators and public school leaders, conservative and Tea Party activists, and Native Americans critical of the holiday. Multiple articles are provided for each category so teachers may choose the articles most appropriate for their students. After analyzing each category of sources in small groups, students come together as a class to discuss the various perspectives of the accounts they read. This is an ideal opportunity for teachers to highlight the importance of paying attention to source information and reading historical accounts with a critical eye. MS-HS

Teaching about Religious Phobia in the US

WEB LESSON In this lessons by Joan Brodsky Schur, Village Community School students explore the vilification of the ‚??religious other‚?? in America to shed perspective on the sources and nature of today‚??s anti-Islam rhetoric.

Global Pluralism: Natural Human Rights ‚?? Religious Freedom

WEB LESSON Scroll to Pluralism Lesson. Written by the First Freedom Center, this lesson focuses on three questions: How did an abstract idea about the natural rights of man become a political reality? What were the different motivations of the people who came to support this ideal? Why is the principle of religious freedom not yet a worldwide political reality? The lesson is found at the bottom of the page and requires the user to print off pdf files. HS

Faith-Based Initiatives

WEB LESSON In this lesson, students explore the complex territory where church and state intersect. They frame their own questions about the Bush administration‚??s stance regarding faith-based initiatives and charitable choice, and they examine the recent issue of the Ten Commandments monument placed in front of an Alabama courthouse. MS-HS

Spirit and Nature

WEB LESSON Is the environment a religious issue? In this lesson, students delve into the connection between the natural and human world from a spiritual, ethical and faith-based point of view. Resources include segments from RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY (the Web page for each segment also includes links to many more related resources and readings) and other Web sites. HS

First Amendment and Freedom of Religion

WEB LESSON In this Teaching Tolerance lesson, students use the case of Park51‚??s Islamic Cultural Center as a starting point for a discussion about whether religious freedom is absolute and if religious freedom requires respect for other religions.

Islam in America

WEB LESSON & DISCUSSION QUESTIONS In this Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly lesson students explore some of the religious and cultural variations within Islam, as well as the relation of Muslims to members of other religious groups. There are five videos for this lesson. A segment on the influx of Somali Muslims into a town in Maine highlights the tensions that can occur when a group of Muslim immigrants settles in a community unfamiliar with Islam. Other videos look at the relation of African-American Muslims to Muslims who immigrate from Asia and Africa; and similarities between Islamic Halal and Jewish Kosher traditions.

The First Amendment and Funeral Protests: What do you think of the verdict in Snyder v Phelps?

WEB LESSON When fallen U.S. soldier Matthew Snyder was laid to rest in 2006, protesters showed up at his funeral. The Westboro Baptist Church brought its ‚??God Hates America‚?? message to the service, standing on the outskirts of the cemetery, speaking about how the country‚??s acceptance of homosexuality has distanced it from God, and every soldier‚??s death is punishment. They waved signs with lewd drawings and inflammatory phrases like ‚??Thank God for Dead Soldiers.‚?? According to a Supreme Court ruling, the Westboro church was within its constitutional rights to do this. At his Annenburg Student Voices page on the Reagan Library website, students may input their perspective on the case after classroom deliberation.

Political Illustration

WEB LESSON Using a 7.5 minute web video of Jak Ohman this PBS lesson shows how a political cartoonist works and thinks. Students learn how to use an illustration and brief test to express a political point of view and to interpret them.

Branding and Marketing Religion

WEB LESSON This online research lesson for HS students focuses on how religion in America is being reinvented and reinterpreted to address challenges in worshipper recruitment, to regenerate spirituality and even to compete with elements of pop culture and new technologies. At the same time, people are seeking, and occasionally finding, spirituality from unlikely sources, sometimes turning away from traditional religious practice.

Religion and Politics: The Battle Over the Judiciary

WEB LESSON In this PBS lesson, students explore how particular religious blocs voted in the 2004 presidential election and how the hopes and/or expectations of these religious voters impacted the second term of George W. Bush. Students then consider the impact of religion on politics by investigating the controversy over judicial nominees, proposing a research topic, and presenting their findings to their fellow students.

Religion, Culture, and Diversity

WEB LESSON Diversity and pluralism are hallmarks of our society. The plethora of traditions and values that share our continent are bound both to conflict with, and to enrich, one other. Each new group of immigrants challenges the mainstream to accept its religion and culture, and is challenged to keep its identity while getting along and blending in. In this PBS lesson, students learn more about various religions, they share their own religious traditions, and they explore some of the tensions associated with religious and cultural differences. Resources include segments from RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY, Web sites, and interviews with family members and other adults. Art projects on themes of religion, spirituality, and diversity are a culminating activity. Grades 5-8

Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

WEB LESSON In this PBS lesson, students will explore the ways the arguments surrounding evolution versus intelligent design have affected relationships among people of different religious backgrounds. They will determine whether relationships among scientists, religious leaders, teachers, parents, students and school boards have been strained as a result of these arguments, or if the debate has inspired people to consider new theories or possibilities about the creation of humans. Students will determine how religion affects beliefs about the evolution and/or intelligent design of humans, and they will examine how these beliefs differ among religious groups. Students will also consider how or if the sides of this debate can be reconciled. (For example, is it possible that a higher power steered human evolution?) HS

Religion and the Environment

WEB LESSON This lesson uses clips from the online PBS film narrated by Bill Moyers "Is God Green?" It asks students to review the reasons why some Christians support environmentalism and the arguments used by other Christians who oppose it.

A Constitution without God

WEB LESSON & ONLINE VIDEO In this lesson, students will examine the First Amendmentís religious clause and its application to contemporary issues of religious liberty. Students will review video segments from "First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty" that explore the development of the freedom of worship clauses in the First Amendment and the establishment of a separation of church and state. Appropriate for 9-12