People Make Choices

Posted by Rebecca Berger on May 20, 2015

People make choices. Choices make history."

My 7th graders know about Hitler. They are deeply curious about him. They ask questions about his childhood, how he died, how he got to be dictator of Germany. And while I understand their fascination with trying to understand one of the greatest demagogues of the last century, I try to channel their curiosity in a different direction; my students are not going to understand the Holocaust by uncovering everything there is to know about Hitler, but they will come much closer to understanding how the Holocaust could have happened just by looking at the everyday people who were living in Europe at that time.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Holocaust and Human Behavior, Critical Thinking, Facing History PSA, A View from the Classroom

One Of Us? Or One Of Them?

Posted by Guest Blogger on May 13, 2015

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Topics: Civil Rights Movement, Choosing to Participate, Bullying, Critical Thinking, Facing History PSA, Upstander, A View from the Classroom

Helping Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things

Posted by Mary Hendra on May 1, 2015

Courage isn't doing what comes easy, but what comes hard."

Anthony Chavez, grandson of Civil Rights activist Cesar Chavez and now an upstander in his own right, shared this as one of the lessons he had learned from his grandfather. In a twist on the traditional Community Conversations facilitated by Facing History and Ourselves across the country and made possible by the support of The Allstate Foundation, this conversation was also a celebration of upstanding at schools which are members of the LA Facing History Partnership Schools Network.

Educators and students at these schools across Los Angeles cultivate the desire and tools to stand up to injustice throughout the year, and this was the time to celebrate them. Anthony's shared lessons were inspiring...

We honor the legacy of upstanders be continuing the work in our own time and place."

Anthony shared that it wasn't easy for his tata and nana. Cesar Chavez would talk with hundreds of farmworkers and only find two willing to stand up. He had his own serious doubts about the potential success of his work, but knew he had to try. And, he noted the now well-known phrase which was utilized, "Si Se Puede" and the legacy that lives on wherever people stand up nonviolently.

My grandfather wanted to help ordinary people to do the extraordinary things we are all capable of."

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Community Event

Civic Engagement in a Digital Age

Posted by Daniel Braunfeld on April 22, 2015

My children will come of age in an era of easy digital access, of school districts across the country exploring one-to-one computing, and their hometown deciding that students have the right to bring personal cell phones and electronics into schools. So, like many other parents of digital natives, I wonder how they will harness and utilize the power of this global access. How will they navigate the myriad of behaviors, distractions, and opportunities that the digital landscape provides? How will they define their digital Universe of Obligation and, as digital natives, will they be digital bystanders or digital upstanders?

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Social and Emotional Learning, Upstander, Using Technology


Posted by Mary Hendra on January 19, 2015

I've been thinking about courage recently.

There is so much going on in the world that is challenging, disheartening, and complex. Sometimes we think of courage in big acts:

  • Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. leading enormous, history-changing non-violent movements
  • the heroism of a firefighter entering a burning building
  • the choice to go in to the heart of a conflict, bringing the stories of others to the world through reporting or physically saving others' lives

I think that courage also comes on a daily and individual level just in making the commitment to stay engaged with the world, to learn about difficult moments and to be willing to question what we have grown up believing, assuming, or simply not knowing.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Armenian Genocide, Critical Thinking, workshop, Judgement and Legacy


Posted by Mary Hendra on January 7, 2015

The film Selma opens across the nation this week. It is a powerful story of the Civil Rights Movement through a critical moment and place.

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Topics: Civil Rights Movement, Film, Choosing to Participate, In the news

Hidden Gems of 2014

Posted by Mary Hendra on December 31, 2014

Last week we highlighted our top five posts for 2014. Here are a few more posts we think are hidden gems, and worth a second look.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Critical Thinking, Urban Education, A View from the Classroom

Why Do We Give?

Posted by Gretchen Blake on December 16, 2014

It’s the holiday season, and I’m made to think about a certain social trend. No, I’m not talking about toddlers waiting to sit on Santa’s lap or the growing number of “Ugly Christmas Sweater” parties. I’m talking about the shifting trend in how we think about giving back.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate

The Power of One

Posted by Guest Blogger on November 4, 2014

Facing History and Ourselves teaches about the importance of civic engagement and responsibility. A number of years ago, Facing History and Ourselves in Los Angeles created an exhibit, “Power of One,” to accompany the traveling Choosing To Participate exhibit. One of the individuals who was highlighted in this exhibit was Chuck Levin. Levin was honored for his commitment to registering voters. Recently he visited one of the LA Facing History Partnership Schools.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate

Student Agency, Student Voice, and the Maker Movement

Posted by Mary Hendra on October 23, 2014

As October is Connected Educator Month, we are pleased to announce our partnership with Educator Innovator! Educator Innovator, powered by the National Writing Project, provides an online "meet-up" for educators who are re-imagining learning. Educator Innovator is both a blog and a growing community of educators, partners and supporters. We know we're with the right partner, because in this month focused on "Connected Education," the theme chosen by Educator Innovator as its key focus is:

Student Agency, Student Voice, and the Maker Movement

"Powerful learning occurs when youth, driven by their own interests, are supported in being creators and not just consumers of knowledge." We agree. And, it makes me think of the story behind a young group of "makers" we worked with several years ago.

I love the project, too, but the story behind it is so special to me!

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Bullying, Student Work, Upstander, Using Technology, Tech Innovation

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This blog helps Southern California teachers connect directly with each other, share ideas, and learn about new resources and opportunities for those interested in or already implementing Facing History.

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