Do the Right Thing: Reading about Social Justice around the World Instructional Materials

Do the Right Thing Social justice is a concept within the broader topic of human rights. Social justice movements focus on the relationship between individuals and society. They call for social institutions to address a variety of inequalities, not only through the legal system, but through other types of direct action as well. Social justice can be concerned with economic, racial, gender, health, environmental, and educational injustices. Social justice advocates often find powerful ways to bring together different areas of injustice, for example, how inequalities in educational opportunities are tied to increased rates of incarceration. Some movements for social justice address unequal access to economic or educational opportunities, unequal distribution of the effects of climate change or pollution, and discrimination based on one’s gender, race, religion, or nationality. Assisting refugees of war or sectarian violence, correcting the legacy of colonialism and slavery, or providing health care and safe drinking water have all been addressed as social justice issues. Social justice activists attempt to fix social inequalities not only through protest and education, but also by creating new initiatives that have direct effects on inequality, for example by initiating micro-financing projects or empowering communities to grow their own food.

Do the Right Thing: Reading about Social Justice around the World offers resources for classroom educators to address this important topic with students, while also integrating and enhancing both English Language Arts and Social Studies curriculum for the middle grades. The unit is written for social studies educators, their ELA colleagues, and library/media specialists who wish to strengthen civic participation and global awareness in students.

The unit includes suggestions for interactive activities and inspiring content for grades 3-8 meant to motivate young learners, promote civic engagement and strengthen global awareness. Classroom-ready lessons and materials help educators to strengthen their students’ understanding of their own civic responsibilities and rights, including the meanings of social justice and how to be engaged young citizens of the world, as well as understanding other cultures and countries.

Unit Objectives:
• Teach students about the problems that dramatically impact quality of life for different populations around the world, and how people have worked to solve those problems.
• Help students grow into responsible, engaged citizens of the world.
• Broaden students’ understanding of economic, political and social rights and responsibilities.
• Promote tolerance and better understanding of cultural differences.
• Challenge students to participate in society in active, productive ways.

The unit is grounded in Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for both Social Studies and English Language Arts and Reading, National Geography Standards, National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: The Themes of Social Studies, and the Alignment of Common Core ELA and National Geography Standards that are specific to grades 3 – 8. The unit integrates curriculum requirements for English Language Arts with Social Studies standards that address social justice, civic participation, and themes of global studies.

Download the full unit here.