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Re-Post: The Four Best Online Resources For Teaching About The Border, K-12

Re-Post: The Four Best Online Resources for Teaching about the Border, K-12

“This is history, this is government, this is human rights – how can I not be teaching about this?” one high-school history teacher in Los Angeles asks.

Many teachers are asking the same question today as they see events unfold at the U.S.-Mexican border.

And many more are asking the more important question: How DO I teach about this?

Here are four of the most powerful online resources we have found, together offering a feast of reaching materials, videos, essays, first-person testimony, and analysis for every level of education.


For All Grades, and Families – Professors Elisheva Cohen and Lindsey Passenger Wieck posted the best set of comprehensive resources for teachers on border issues that we’ve seen, this past July on  “With this collection of resources,” the professors write, “we seek to provide educators and parents with resources to help create a space to discuss the family separations and immigration challenges facing the US. right now. While we recognize that this topic is politically fraught, we hope these resources will enable parents and educators to contextualize US. immigration historically, to promote critical analysis of evidence in order to understand these issues, and to discuss them in a way that fosters empathy and civic engagement.

The resources are organized into six categories

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For High-School Students – The BBC published this three-minute video suitable for high-school classes in 2019, with images and charts that offer a bit of historical context, a facts-first presentation of the rising number of apprehensions at the border, and the long delays built into the asylum process. Even-handed, this video offers compelling short interviews with migrants, allowing their voices, experiences and motives to come through directly.

For All Grades, and Families  – Public broacaster WETA in Washington, DC  runs the Colorin Colorado website as a resource guide for teaching English in K-12 schools to speakers of other languages. They’ve recently added a tremendously helpful page of links to resources about border issues, including approaches to talking with children about frightening images form the border in the news, study guides, book recommendations, and historical parallels (and not-so-parallels).

For All Grades, and Families Annenberg Learner is a deep online resource with first-person sources for teaching across a wide range of subjects – and a powerful focus on American borderlands. The website’s “Exploring Borderlands” page launches texts, videos, teaching resources and a range of interactive resources, all free and reliably high-quality.

Exploring Borderlands begins with a video of writer Gloria Anzaldúa talking about the lived experience of the border between the U.S. and Mexico, which she call “una herida abierta where the lifeblood of two worlds is merging to form a third country — a border culture.” Una herida abierta: an open wound.

Exploring Borderlands includes a detailed timeline graphic beginning in 1492 and running through 1987. The resources here don’t reach the current day, but do provide a rich context for discussion of the current crisis, for middle- and high-school students. Writers featured include Bartolomeo de las Casas, Americo Paredos, Gloria Anzaldua, and a dozen others.

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