Students collaborate in teams to research change movements in the United States, using Secondary and primary sources both online and IRL

Photo of Jackson Whittington
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Working in teams of 4-5, students will conduct research on change movements in the United States, choosing one to focus their research on and examining primary and secondary sources both online and in real life.  Students will use their findings to create multimedia presentations in order to teach their classmates and others about the movements they have become experts on.  Students will then research problematic monuments in San Francisco and write proposals and petitions to replace them with positive and inclusive monuments of their own design. 

Group Product #1:

As a group, students will do research and become experts on a social change movement in California. 

Each group will choose one of the following social change movements: 

  • The Black Panther Party
  • American Indian Movement
  • Fred Korematsu case
  • United Farm Workers
  • East L.A Walkouts
  • Harvey Milk and the Gay Rights Movement
  • California Women’s Suffrage Movement

Students will also have the option of suggesting another movement that they are interested in

In their research, students will examine  key facts about their movement :

  • When did this movement take place?   
  • How long did it last?
  • What were the key actions taken in your movement?
  • Did the movement accomplish its goals?

They will look at questions of Leadership:

  • Who was in charge of this movement?  
  • Did it have one leader or many leaders?  
  • Did the leader(s) help or hurt the movement?

They will look at Motivations:

  • What led people in your movement to be willing to make sacrifices for change?
  • What were the goals of your movement?

and Methods:

  • What strategies did your movement use to try to create change?
  • Which strategies were effective?
  • Which strategies were not effective?

They will look at Messaging:

  • How did your group spread its message?
  • Was the way of spreading this group’s message effective?

Finally, they will Apply their findings to Today:

  • What strategies from your group do you think would still work today?

Students will choose whatever form they wish to present their findings. 

Possibilities include:

  • Slide presentation 
  • Poster presentation
  • Educational video 
  • Written report

Group Product #2:

Recently, there has been controversy over Confederate monuments in the United States. But these aren’t the only monuments that celebrate people or movements with a problematic history. Together, the class will identify a San Francisco monument that they believe should be removed and each group will design a replacement monument honoring a change maker or movement that they have become experts on.

Students’ designs could
take the form of:

  • A clay sculpture/statue design
  • A painting/mural design

Students can also suggest design mediums and methods of their own


Students will then create a piece of writing to help convince others to spread the word and build support for their replacement monument idea. Writing may take the form of:

  • An opinion editorial in a local news source
  • A letter to a political official
  • A petition
  • A persuasive viral video

Student generated communication ideas will be welcomed as well

Throughout human history, people have risen up, resisted and created changes in society.
In this unit we will explore the questions: What are the key factors that lead people to be willing to make sacrifices for change? What makes a social movement successful? We can't wait to see what the students come up with, and to witness the movement they begin.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Gaynor Brown

Love this Jackson! Have you tried this out in the classroom? What success have you had so far? It seems like it is a great topic for San Francisco at the moment, especially with all of the Summer of Love exhibits.

Photo of Jackson Whittington

Thanks @Gaynor Brown ! This is an upcoming unit that I'll be starting in a few weeks. For sure, lots of local histories to draw from.

Photo of Gaynor Brown

Look forward to hearing how it goes!

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