My Mockingbirds

Posted by Margaret Stohl on February 18, 2016

Harper Lee's death reminds us that “To Kill a Mockingbird” is not only a classic work of American literature, but has also opened important conversations around the themes of race, justice, and morality. The day before Lee passed away, we published the following essay by writer Margaret Stohl, co-author of the bestselling young adult novel, “Beautiful Creatures,” on why “To Kill a Mockingbird” mattered so deeply to her. Our Teaching Mockingbird curriculum helps educators bring the historical context behind the novel into their classrooms.

I have a problematic relationship with conformity. Though I was born in Los Angeles, two generations of my family came from a small town in rural Southern Utah, and they carried the seeds of that community with them to California long after they left the town itself behind. As I grew up, I noticed that my family was nothing like our neighbors or my friends at school. We had different views, different beliefs, and different approaches to life. At the same time, the longer I lived in California, the less I fit in with my own family. That’s probably why, when I read Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird as a teenager, I felt an immediate connection to the novel’s main character, Scout Finch.

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Topics: Insider, To Kill a Mockingbird, Contests, Student Voices, Writing, Identity, Harper Lee, Margaret Stohl

Join the Conversation: Enter the 2016 Student Essay Contest!

Posted by Stacey Perlman on February 3, 2016

The foundation of a good story is a cast of characters that shape our thoughts about the world. That’s certainly the case for Scout Finch in Harper Lee’s beloved novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. As a young white girl, she is forced to question her community’s spoken and unspoken rules when her father defends a black man falsely accused of a crime in 1930s Alabama. She and her brother, Jem, struggle to define their identities in relationship to the values of their small, segregated Southern town.

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Contests, Student Voices, ELA

StoryCorps’ Dave Isay: Engaging Everyone in the Act of Listening

Posted by Aileen McQuillen on October 7, 2015

Imagine preserving the voices and stories of an entire generation over a single holiday weekend. That’s our hope, as Facing History and Ourselves partners with StoryCorps for the 2015 Great Thanksgiving Listen. We will work with high school teachers across the country, whose students will interview a grandparent or elder over the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and record their story with the StoryCorps mobile app.

Ahead of the Great Thanksgiving Listen, we sat down with Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps and winner of a 2015 $1 million TED Prize. Isay made public radio documentaries for nearly two decades before starting StoryCorps 12 years ago. (The interview has been slightly condensed.)

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Topics: Student Voices, Memory, Identity, History, Community, David Isay, StoryCorps

8 Components of a Reflective Classroom

Posted by Doc Miller on August 5, 2015

The philosopher Hannah Arendt said that the essence of being human is participating in moral discourse with others. "The things of the world become human for us only when we can discuss them with our fellows. We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human." In a reflective classroom community, students work together in an engaging study of our past, and of our world today. Knowledge is constructed, not passively absorbed. And students, with both hearts and minds mobilized, are seen as subjects actively engaged in a community of learners. A trusting classroom atmosphere like this creates the space for deep, democratic learning. The creation of an environment like this requires a thoughtful approach. 

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Topics: Classrooms, Back-To-School, Teaching Strategies, Student Voices, Students, Schools, Teachers, Community

Inspiring Student Voices Reflect on an Interfaith Exchange

Posted by Julia Rappaport on June 11, 2015

This week, Facing History's Learn + Teach + Share blog featured a series of blog posts from the students and teachers involved in an exchange between two Los Angeles middle schools: Sinai Akiba Academy, a Jewish day school, and New Horizon School, a Muslim day school. 

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Topics: Classrooms, Student Voices, Students, Religious Tolerance, Teachers, Los Angeles, Jewish Education Program

One Voice Can Make a Difference

Posted by Yaffa Englander on May 26, 2015

As an eyewitness to the testimonies of many survivors, I now have an obligation to keep their stories alive. When the survivors of the Holocaust tell us about their experiences, they charge us.

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Topics: Antisemitism, Student Voices, Choosing to Participate, Holocaust, Survivor Testimony, History

Meet the Winners of Our First Annual Student & Alumni Upstander Contest!

Posted by Emma Samler on March 26, 2015

We at Facing History are so pleased to announce the winners of our first annual Facing History Together Student & Alumni Upstander Scholarship Contest.

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Topics: Contests, Student Voices, Benjamin B. Ferencz, Choosing to Participate, Students, Spoken Word, Toronto, San Francisco Bay Area, Facing History Together, Upstanders, Video

How Can Understanding History Nurture Civic Participation?

Posted by Julia Rappaport on March 12, 2015

As we prepare to spend tomorrow thinking about ways to nurture civic participation in young people, we wanted to republish a great story about two Facing History students whose study of history and the choices people make inspired them to petition the Oxford English Dictionary to add the word upstander to its pages.
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Topics: Student Voices, Choosing to Participate, Events, Students, Facing History Together, Upstanders, Day of Learning

New Documentary Explores "To Kill a Mockingbird"'s Enduring Appeal

Posted by Julia Rappaport on January 29, 2015

More than 55 years since its publication, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird still resonates. Filmmaker Sandra Jaffe grew up in Alabama, where the 1960 best-selling novel is set. In 2006, Jaffe set out to find out why the book remains so popular today.

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Classrooms, Civil Rights Movement, Film, Student Voices, Choosing to Participate, Facing History Resources, Identity, Civil Rights

An Armenian Education

Posted by Elizabeth Ray on November 28, 2014

Each year, Facing History and Ourselves and Knights and Daughters of Vartan host an annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration Essay Contest. In 2014, the contest asked high school and college students across the United States to respond to the question, “On the threshold of the 100th anniversary, how should the world recognize the Armenian Genocide?” This essay, from Facing History student Elizabeth Ray, took second place. It was reprinted with Elizabeth's permission.

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Topics: Student Voices, Online Workshop, Choosing to Participate, Armenian Genocide, Facing History Resources, Teaching, Facing History Together, Genocide/Collective Violence, Facing History and Ourselves, Teaching Resources, History

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Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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