Volume 31, No.4

Summer 2017

Two powerful stories, “The (Young) People’s Climate Conference” and “Love for Syria,” frame our summer issue that addresses teaching social issues and global conflicts with young children. In the first, Rowan Shafer helps 3rd graders understand the global struggle for climate justice. In the second, Cami Touloukian wrestles with explaining the refugee crisis and trauma of war in Syria to her 1st- and 2nd-grade classroom. 


Helping young learners understand such tough issues in the time of Trump, in a time where we are told we should want to build walls and ban immigrants, is more important than ever. In our editorial for the issue we write, “We owe it to our students, perhaps especially the youngest among them, to resurrect the culture of empathy. We do this by listening to their concerns, trying our best to respond to their questions with respect and compassion, and teaching them to push for a world where everyone’s life is valued.”

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  • The (Young) People’s Climate Conference

    Teaching Global Warming to 3rd Graders

    By Rowan Shafer

    A teacher adapts the “Climate Change Mixer” designed for older students as a springboard for a unit on global warming and climate justice.

  • Love for Syria

    Tackling World Crises with Small Children

    By Cami Touloukian

    A teacher wrestles with explaining refugee crises, dictators, and the trauma of war to her 1st- and 2nd- grade classroom.

  • EDITORIAL: Little Kids, Big Ideas

    Teaching Social Issues and Global Conflicts with Young Children

    By the editors of Rethinking Schools

    Recently, a Rethinking Schools editor was a chaperone on a field trip when he overheard a 2nd-grade student talking about how he wanted to “nuke the world.” Taken aback, he […]

  • Teaching to the Heart

    Poetry, Climate Change, and Sacred Spaces

    By Michelle Nicola

    Using Marshallese poet and climate justice activist Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner’s poem “Dear Matafele Peinam,” a teacher helps 7th graders think about the sacred spaces in their own lives and how they will be affected by climate change.

  • Mapping Childhood

    How Our Stories Build Community

    By Linda Christensen

    A neighborhood mapping exercise helps students develop their narrative writing and storytelling skills while also building classroom community by connecting home worlds to the curriculum. Adapted from the newly-released second edition of Reading, Writing, and Rising Up.

  • From Many Sides Now

    Teaching the Poetry of the Vietnam War

    By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

    A teacher uses poetry and the creation of found poems as a way to get her students to think beyond the simple “two sides to every story” narrative of the Vietnam War.

  • Goodbye — and Welcome

    By Bill Bigelow

    This is the first issue of Rethinking Schools magazine in eight years for which Jody Sokolower was not the managing editor. Jody stepped down in April to focus on local […]

  • Girls Against Dress Codes

    By Lyn Mikel Brown

    “Ugh, Dress Codes!” The title of one of 15-year-old Izzy Labbe’s SPARK Movement blog posts encapsulates what I’ve heard so many girls say they feel about their middle and high […]

  • Our picks for books and other resources for social justice teaching 31.4

    Check out these valuable resources, reviewed by Rethinking Schools editors and Teaching for Change colleagues.