On February 14, there was a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed. Seventeen were wounded. It was inconceivable. Horrific. Catastrophic. A nightmare. How do you talk about this traumatic event with your students? How do you allay their fears and concerns as your school conducts lockdown drills and maybe even Active Shooter Civilian Response Training. Three weeks later, Parkland students are at the forefront of activism—lighting up social media, saying “enough” to elected officials and demanding gun reform. With passion and a range of opinions, the country is talking about how best to keep kids safe.
Some teachers are hesitant to unpack and discuss challenging events like this with their students because it feels complex and uncomfortable. But thoughtfully talking about these controversial topics also cultivates critical thinking. We’d like to help you by offering collections of relevant YES! stories and outside resources, plus discussion questions. Our promise is to choose resources that give voice to multiple perspectives—and get to the truth.
Our fifth “Let’s Talk About” is on school shootings and its related issues of gun laws, masculinity, and student activism. You can look forward to a “Let’s Talk About” topic every first Thursday of the month.
As always, thank you for the important work that you do. You make a significant difference in how students connect with this big world—and how they can make it better.
How to Use This Collection
Suggested below are steps to a thoughtful and meaningful discussion with your students about school shootings. Choose what is appropriate for your class.
1. Students complete a pre-survey (optional).
2. Choose at least one YES! article and one outside article for a robust compare and contrast.
3. Use the discussion questions—or craft your own—to gauge your students’ understanding and opinions.
4. Students complete a post-survey (optional).
5. Explore curriculum if you’d like to dive deeper.
1. Why do school shootings happen? What factors lead to them?
2. What methods do you think would prevent school shootings?
3. Even though students who are undocumented or under 18 years old can’t vote, what are ways that they can influence change? That you can influence change? What makes young people’s voices unique and powerful?