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Recent Teach-ins from Reach and Teach

Hot Stuff to Help Kids Chill Out - Anger Management

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Anger is something we all experience, whether it is our own anger or the anger being expressed by someone we are with. Whether we are parents, teachers, youth-group leaders, counselors, or sometimes just sitting in a room by ourselves... anger happens.

Reach And Teach believes that it is critical for peacemaking and social justice that children learn how to deal with anger as early as possible. As you will see in this documentary, anger as an emotion can be seen fairly soon after a child is born.


We, as adults in children's lives, can offer the best examples of how to deal with anger. That is, of course, if we've learned how to deal with and express our own anger first. While this post is mostly about anger management and children, adults will find useful tips and resources here for themselves as well. 

One of the best books we've ever encountered on a healthy way to deal with anger is Ahn's Anger (pictured below). It is one of many resources we have available for sale at Reach And Teach. 

Anger is a normal feeling. How we respond to our anger can either be healthy or toxic. This teach-in offers you an opportunity to help kids (and adults) look at anger, how they react to it, whether their reaction is healthy or toxic, whether that reaction achieves good or bad outcomes, and how they might react differently to achieve better outcomes.

You are welcome to use this teach-in to create your own presentation or to just use it for your own development. 

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Educating for Freedom: Media Literacy by Zoe Weil

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No matter where we go or what we do, we are always surrounded by media, advertising, marketing, images, sounds, and experiences that are meant to shape our world view, drive our buying habits, influence our consumption.... and impact just about every aspect of how we live our lives. In the United States you always hear that we are a "free people" (compared to people in some other nations) but are we really truly free if we don't recognize how we are being manipulated to behave in ways that are not necessarily in our best interests or in the interest of sustaining a healthy and peaceful world? Media literacy is critical for people of all ages if we are to maintain the freedom to make decisions that are good for us, good for each other, and good for our planet.

In the above newly released TEDx talk, Reach And Teach friend and founder of the Institute for Humane Education, Zoe Weil, demonstrates how we can all take a giant step forward in liberating ourselves and our children from simply digesting the media around us and moving us to becoming better critical thinkers. In this talk Zoe Weil shows us how to ask five key questions each time we notice media in any form that we perceive is, in fact, trying to influence us. And, if as adults we make it a practice to ask these questions when we are with children and explore the answers together, we can help our children achieve a greater level of freedom from those who are trying to enslave them to brand loyalty and enslave them with thinking that their lives are somehow missing something if they don't have certain products in their hands or live their lives in prescribed ways.

And, as Zoe Weil points out at the end of her talk, given that our planet is facing some of the most difficult challenges in generations, equipping our young people to make better, more well-informed decisions, can help protect the world's people from unnecessary violence and environmental catastrophes. The stakes are high and media literacy is essential. 

Here are the questions:

  1. What product or service is being advertised? 
  2. What deep need or desire is the ad promising to fill?
  3. Who is the target audience? What might their response be?
  4. What suffering, cruelty, and/or destruction is hidden from view?
  5. What product or service might do more good and less harm? 

These are mostly pretty straight-forward questions, although I have to admit that we often see advertisements for which the answer to the first question is not immediately clear. Who among us hasn't seen a billboard with a beautiful man or woman, half or completely naked, and unable to see the logo or other brand information can't figure out what the advertiser is trying to sell? 

Teen Magazine Spread

What's Wrong With This Picture?

The 4th question is the most intriguing. That one takes a bit more deep thinking but it is so important. When you see an advertisement for a store that's offering the VERY LOWEST PRICES, for example, taking some time to think about how that store manages to get things at such low prices could provide a great lesson in suffering, cruelty, and destruction.

Lower prices might make you happy, but what damage do they do to get those low prices? Child labor? Slave labor? Bankrupting suppliers by making them sell the store products at a price lower than it costs to produce? 

One of the key things our friend Amy Jussel, founder of, has been doing in her media literacy education efforts is to uncover the hidden damages caused by the way "happy children" are portrated by the media. 

What damage might the images in this magazine spread on the left cause?

First, you need to know that the girls in that spread DO NOT look the way the image portrays them. They've been completely "PhotoShopped." What harm is there in that? Imagine you are a tween or teen girl thinking about going to the beach with your friends and looking at yourself in your bathing suit. How many girls will see girls like those in the magazine spread staring back at themselves in the mirror?


How many girls will realize that they don't have to look like those models to have a great time at the beach with their friends?

Not enough.

How many girls will starve themselves, eat but then throw up their dinners, or do other incredibly harmful things to their bodies in an effort to try to get themselves closer to the impossible? 

Too many.

And worst of all, how many girls won't live long enough to become adults?

Even one is too many.

Beyond looking at the negative consequences inflicted on the consumers of these magazine spreads, what harm and destruction are being imposed on the models for spreads like this? What are their lives like?

Teenager Julia Bluhm took this issue head on, as Amy Jussel blogged about in this story on the web site. 

As that story showed, children can and will challenge harmful media when they recognize it and as Amy so rightly shared at the beginning of that post, "People don't necessarily change when they see the light; they change when they feel the heat."  The magazine that ran the spread felt the heat when they heard from nearly 90,000 people due to Bluhm's hard work. 

Living in the United States we do, in fact, have more freedom than people in many other countries and with that freedom comes a responsibility to protect ourselves from being unduly influenced by media that causes us to behave in ways that negatively impact us, our neighbors, and our planet.  We all need tools to help us do that and to educate our children to do the same. At Reach And Teach we love to promote resources that help transform the world through teachable moments and we think that Zoe Weil's TEDx Talk, her web site, and Amy Jussel's are fantastic places to find such transformative resources every day.

Please do let us know (click here to email us) of any resources like these that we should promote on our web site, through Facebook, or Tweet about! If you like this post, please share it on Facebook and Tweet about it yourself! 


Red Tails - The Tuskegee Airmen Project

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Reach And Teach, leading off a teach-in with a trailer for a war movie? Yes. On January 20th 2012, George Lucas' film, Red Tails, will appear in movie theaters across the country. It tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, black pilots and crews who bravely and succesfully protected white bomber crews during WWII, flying side by side, white and black, to defend America, only to return to bases and a country where whites and blacks weren't allowed to sit side by side and share a cup of coffee.

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The Classroom is Sprouting

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Never before has it been so critical that kids learn healthy eating habits and an appreciation for eating local, in-season, balanced diets. As we struggle to help our children get connected to the earth and the food they eat, in a world where some kids think vegetables grow in the supermarket, Reach And Teach is pleased to offer this activity based on a lesson from Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils (page 190), one of Reach And Teach's best-selling books for teachers, parents, and anyone working with kids.

In this activity, we combine the activity from The Classroom Is Sprouting with a handy classroom/home gardening kit, the Sprout House from our friends at WonderSoil.  

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Classroom Discussion Resources for Marriage Equality

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California Court Says 'No' to Marriage Equality

Web Exclusive! from

May 26, 2009 - The California Supreme Court issued its opinion today on the legality of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage.

by Marcos Torres

California high court rules on Prop 8

Proposition 8 changed the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples, eliminating same-sex couples' right to marry. Today the state's Supreme Court issued its opinion on the legality of Proposition 8, deciding the fate of an estimated 18,000 couples who married before the initiative was passed.

The decision is likely to dominate headlines this week. Will it be discussed in your classroom?

For Classroom Discussion

  • How would you feel if the government ruled that your family is no longer a family?
  • Who has the power to create a family? Who has the power to define the meaning of family?
  • The United States Constitution guarantees its citizens the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Does a ban on same-sex marriage violate one's right to pursue happiness? Explain.
  • Does the marriage of a same-sex couple truly threaten heterosexual marriages and families? Explain.
  • What legal rights do couples acquire when they get married? Why is acquiring those rights important to many gay couples?
  • High schools often have some of the most intolerant environments for LGBT students. LGBT clubs that provide sanctuary and community for LGBT students often face discrimination from students, parents, faculty, and administrators. Why?
  • What benefits and challenges would your school face in having a LGBT school club?
  • Interracial marriages were once banned in most American states. (When President Obama's parents got married, their union would have been illegal in half the states in the U.S.) What similarities exist between the movement for interracial marriage and the movement for gay marriage?
  • The majority of voters in California voted to ban gay marriage. In other states, legislative majorities have voted to allow gay marriage. In a democracy, what are proper ways to express dissent when you disagree with the majority?

Additional Resources

Overturn Prop 8
See the Southern Poverty Law Center's legal brief in the Proposition 8 case.

The View From 2008
A year ago, the California court upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry. A look back at Teaching Tolerance's coverage of that decision.

Doing Right, Not Playing It Safe
Just after the 2008 ruling for same-sex marriage, California's Republican chief justice looked at the issue – and found parallels with earlier civil rights movements.

Love Was a Crime
Forty-two years ago, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter Loving risked prison time for marrying outside their race. They stood their ground – and won.

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Turtle and Dolphin - A story from Bali

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This is an edited excerpt of a story that comes to us from Bali and was written by Maggie Dunkle. It's a good story about how kids are making the world a better place in Indonesia. You can get the entire beautifully illustrated children's story book at Reach and Teach.

(Where is Bali?)

Turtle and Dolphin
by Maggie Dunkle (illustrated by Margiyono)

(edited excerpt from the book)

Dolphin is hungry. How long since he had a good meal? Not many fish now, and the water is hard to see through. Ah! There! A fish, and a big one!

Dolphin lunged forward with all his strength and... bang! He hit a stone wall. The fish vanished. The stone wall was not a stone wall, it was the stone-hard shell of Turtle. He was not pleased.

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Tuskegee Airmen

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On March 29th, 2007, the Tuskegee Airmen will receive the Congressional Gold Medal for their service during WWII. We've put together a comprehensive High School program for teaching about the Tuskegee Airmen and it is available free of charge for downloading right now.

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Global Warming

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Asked if he was going to see the new movie about Global Warming, former President Bush said "Doubt it."

Up until about five years ago, if you brought up the subject of global warming with some folks, their response was that the science was somewhat fuzzy. Not that you'd ever hear that from a scientist truly involved in studying climate change, but those who didn't want us to focus on this crisis tried to fool us into believing that there were major doubts that human behavior was causing a rapid warming of the earth. Today, if you asked some of those same people, they'll say "yes, global warming does exist and it may have been caused by human behavior." But....... now they've been programmed to add that "there's probably not much we can do about it, and we certainly shouldn't ruin the economy by legislating anything too hastily."

With the huge popularity of "An Inconvenient Truth," the Oscar-winning film about global warming narrated by Al Gore, and a new film by Leonardo DiCaprio (the 11th Hour) we felt it was a good time to let folks know about lots of resources, which can help you study global warming and take action to make a difference.

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Just War?

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Why Can't I Be the LeaderThe Reach And Teach team travels in various circles of folks, ...

from absolute pacifists - for whom war is NEVER the answer,

to just-war-theorists - who try to weigh the circumstances leading to war and the way in which war is carried out to determine if that particular war is appropriate, and finally,

and even a few hawks - for whom most wars are justifiable and most behavior by the United States in war is considered noble and good.

Most people who have some form of faith life base, at least partly, their decisions about war on what their faith-life has taught them. PBS' Religion and Ethics program has produced a wonderful set of lesson plans around the issues of faith and war.

Talking to young people about war can be difficult, but if we are to work towards a more peaceful future, it is vital that we do so. For the very young, books like Playing War and Why Can't I Be the Leader provide a good starting point. As children get older, books like Howard Zinn's Young People's History of the United States are terrific discussion-starters.

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Vietnam Moratorium Interactive Adventure

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The year is 1969. It is the Vietnam War. You are a member of a fledgling antiwar organization at the National Institutes of Health (NIH/NIMH). Your group and others thoughout various federal agencies are considering a work stoppage, a Moratorium, to express dissent against the war and an end to business as usual until the war ends.

Click here to play this quick interactive adventure game.

Green America approved