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Seventh Grade Humanities: Social and Environmental Justice

In the fall, as students finish reading The Outsiders, they are asked to think about the social justice issues in the world that concern them.

They are asked to learn more about a particular issue involving people, animals or the environment. In small groups, students practice their research skills together, looking to the past and to current day issues. Students are provided with a list of sources to help them get started. We discuss effective ways to use the internet and share sources, and students learn how to take notes. As we dig deeper into certain issues, we focus on how prejudice, mistreatment or discrimination has impacted justice in some way. After securing a foundation of knowledge in their topic, students focus on a subtopic of their own choosing, about which they will write.

As students dive into research, they organize notes using noodletools, create a bibliography, hone paragraph and paraphrasing skills, and learn in-text citation format. In one paragraph, students answer: Historically, what should we know about your topic? In what ways have we accomplished social justice in your topic? In the second paragraph: Currently, what still needs to happen in order to reach social justice? In what ways are we still working toward it today?

Students utilize the drafting process with this paper and turn in two drafts. We also work together to create a rubric that will be used to assess their work. Then students prepare a social awareness piece that reflects their research. Students think about how they want to share their understanding of their topic with a larger audience. Projects have included posters, slideshows, 3D models, pamphlets and informative videos, for example.

Topics

Subtopics: A few examples (there are many more!)

Environmental Issues Hetch Hetchy, pollution in the ocean, oil or nuclear power
Women’s Rights Equal pay, hiring, stereotyping and societal pressures, Title IX
LGBTQ Rights Marriage rights, equal rights in various states or countries, transgender issues
Civil Rights Issues concerning Native Americans, African Americans, American Muslims, or other minority groups
Animal Rights Cosmetic testing, fur/leather use, animals in captivity and in the entertainment industry, medical testing