Rethinking Schools

Like YES! Magazine, Rethinking Schools strives to be both visionary and practical. We are delighted to share three of many lesson plans from Rethinking Schools that get to the heart of a real-world education.
Rethinking Schools header logo

Rethinking Schools Logo

Rethinking Schools’ quarterly educational magazine and publications are testament to the organization’s vision of creating a human, caring, multiracial democracy.

Written by and for teachers, these lessons get to the heart of learning in and beyond the classroom. They are not about memorizing facts, figures, and data. They are about deeper understanding, engaging students’ thinking, and bridging ideas and theories with what’s going on in the world. They also draw on students’ experiences, making for a greater connection. Simply said, Rethinking Schools is about meaningful learning and change.

Explore Rethinking Schools’ compelling and dynamic lessons that are featured in both their quarterly magazine and publications. Written in story form, the teacher-author walks you through a lesson with inspiring and supportive narrative. There is a range of essays for grades K-12. Here is a sample of what you will find:


Knock, Knock: Turning Pain into Power

Rethinking Schools-Knock Knock

Illustration by Scott Bakal.

:: GO TO LESSON PLAN: Knock, Knock: Turning Pain into Power

Linda Christensen knew that Daniel Beaty’s three-part poem, “Knock, Knock,” would inspire her students when she watched him read it on HBO’s New Years show “Def Poetry Jam.” Christensen starts the lesson by asking students to “turn and talk” about what works and doesn’t work for them--a prompt for examining content to form. Her assignment to take a page from Beaty and write a letter poem to yourself, giving yourself the advice you need to hear, uncovers mind-blowing feelings from students. If you’d like to give your students an opportunity to write about what really matters to them, and turn pain into power, this is a lesson for you.

This is an excerpt from Linda Christensen’s new book Teaching for Joy and Justice: Re-imagining the Language Arts Classroom.



Living Algebra, Living Wage

Re-Thinking Schools-Living Wage

Illustration by J.D. King

:: GO TO LESSON PLAN: Living Algebra, Living Wage

It seems too often that math is taught in a way that is disconnected from our lives. Jana Dean has two goals going into this lesson on linear relationships: One, for her students to engage their math skills to form their own opinions about minimum wage, and two, to motivate her students to stick with their algebra studies. The main assignment is to graph a day’s and then a month’s full-time wages for four service industry occupations, such as a retail clerk at Costco and a home nursing aide. This task and the many following conversations provide students with the framework to learn more than math and consider their own personal circumstances and the world around them.


Afghanistan’s Ghosts

Re-Thinking Schools-Afghanistan Ghosts

Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada (left) and Zekiria Ebrahimi in the 2007 film The Kite Runner.

Photo: © 2008 Paramount Vantage/Phil Bray

:: GO TO LESSON PLAN: Afghanistan’s Ghosts

An increasing number of high school language arts classes across the country are adopting “The Kite Runner” in their curricula. It can be a tricky novel to teach given the history of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. Ian McFeat feels it’s important to ground his students in the history of social conflicts that frame “The Kite Runner” before students read the novel.

In this essay, McFeat describes two activities that prepare students for reading “The Kite Runner.” The first has students choosing one photo that they find powerful from a website of photos taken of the aftermath of the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan  post- 9/11, then writing  a first person narrative about his or her feelings .  The second activity is a tea party where students encounter a diverse array of individuals from Afghanistan's past and present to help them better understand today's conflicts. From these activities, students not only come prepared to read “The Kite Runner,” but also begin thinking critically about U.S. foreign policy and how novels reflect the times and consciousness of our country.


Rethinking School Publications

In addition to the quarterly magazine, Rethinking Schools offers a number of publications that support teachers in their teaching of community, justice, and equality.  You will find replicable, ready-to-use lesson plans and activities, essays, poetry, and reflections for kindergarten through college classrooms.

rethinking classrooms smallRethinking Our Classrooms Teaching for Equity and Justice, Volume 1

Creative teaching ideas, compelling classroom narratives, and hands-on examples show how teachers can promote the values of community, justice, and equality while building academic skills.

rethinking globalization-smallRethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World

This comprehensive book from Rethinking Schools helps teachers raise critical issues with students in grades 4 - 12 about the increasing globalization of the world's economies and infrastructures, and the many different impacts this trend has on our planet and those who live here.

rethinking mathematics-smallRethinking Mathematics

This unique collection of more than 30 articles shows teachers how to weave social-justice principles throughout the math curriculum, and how to integrate social-justice math into other curricular areas as well. Rethinking Mathematics presents teaching ideas, lesson plans and reflections by practicing classroom teachers and distinguished mathematics educators. This is real-world math - math that helps students analyze problems as they gain essential academic skill.

Rethinking Schools MagazineRethinking Schools publishes resources to defend and transform public education, and is most noted for their concrete examples of how educators can engage students in social issues from a perspective of equality, anti-racism, social justice, and sustainability. The non-profit organization promotes school policies and approaches to teaching that help educators respect the students and communities they serve. In over 20 years of publishing a quarterly magazine and books, and leading workshops, Rethinking Schools has reached millions of students, future teachers, current teachers, teacher educators, and parent and community activists.

Take advantage of this special offer for YES! Educators from Rethinking Schools: 25%  off all their publications, including subscriptions to Rethinking Schools magazine. Just use this discount code when ordering: 5BYES.


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