Looking for evergreen lessons that you can always teach? If you are teaching about copyright law, here is a fun story to discuss with your class: Animal Rights and Constitutional Law. Discuss whether monkeys have the rights to their own camera “selfies.” Another interesting story is how censorship works. This story explores Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel ‘Maus’ which has been met with pushback because of the cover art.
Here are some more ideas for lessons to teach with your class.
Politics and Leadership
Listen to this story, Life in Russia Under President Putin, as a journalist deep dives into ‘Putin country’ to learn more about why people think Putin is such a popular leader, what challenges Russians continue to face under Putin, and what the U.S. still needs to understand about its former political arch-rival. Want to learn about another controversial leader? Listen to this story about Napoleon Bonaparte of France and his Battle of Waterloo. Or, if you are teaching religion, lessons from the life of the prophet Muhammad focuses on what this religious leader was like as a person, including how he treated others, what he liked to eat—even how he wore his hair. If you are teaching more general political lessons, here is an informative lesson about Gerrymandering, the manipulation of the boundaries of voting districts in a way that favors one political party. Another very relevant and culturally responsible topic to teach is Xenophobia and the Power of Fear. Listen to this story about statements Donald Trump has made and discuss how the power of fear and anger can lead to hate and discrimination.
Military History and Expeditions
As you are searching for more relevant stories to connect to your history or religion curriculum, your students will be motivated to listen to how the 12th century Inquisition in Europe has created a template for modern torture today. For more Russian history listen to The History of the Russian Cossacks, a paramilitary group. If you want to teach more about discovering new land and passages, this is a great story about the famed Northwest Passage, and the doomed expedition.
Authors, Books, and the Human Experience
What books have you been reading lately? We have great stories that relate to books and authors students are learning in their classrooms. Listen to this interesting story about how the weather might have influenced the writing of ‘Frankenstein.’ Hear from the writer, Joyce Carol Oates herself, how her early life shaped her not only as a person, but as a writer. Another author, Toni Morrison, had her creativity sparked by real life events, and is believed to be inspired by ghosts.
If you are reading ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God,” this is a great story about how Zora Neale Hurston broke barriers with her strong characters. Learn more about Edgar Allan Poe and the Legacy of Ray Bradbury. Or, explore ‘The Little Prince:’ a Commentary on the Human Spirit to learn more about how the book is a reflection on life and death.
Stories about Nature
Hankering for summer? Listen to the “Ode to the Sprinkler,” and learn more about Gary Soto’s poetry as he writes about the ways that sprinklers shaped his view of summer. Or, if you want to get more scientific listen to this great lesson about climate change, and how it influenced human migration. Or, learn about a famous environmentalist and human rights activist Wangari Maathai, who was also the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.