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what to teach in december with planet design

November 30, 2023

What to Teach This Month: December

What are you teaching this month? Check out some December highlights, including Rosa Parks Day, the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and winter holidays.


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Over the years, I’ve seen some hilarious memes comparing teachers at the beginning of the school year to teachers at the end of the school year (see below); but honestly, those last couple of weeks before the holiday break seem to be really difficult for many educators. Not only do you have the promise of the impending break and start to mentally check out, but students are more than happy to prepare (maybe a bit too early) for the long break as well.

owl meme before and after

Time moves quickly, and going from August to December as a teacher often seems to happen in the blink of an eye, and the burnout is real! How are we already here? At Share My Lesson, we’re already setting up for our yearly Virtual Conference in March (keep an eye out for 2024!) and, we too, are ready for our own breaks! However, working in an office pales in comparison with what teachers, paraprofessionals, professors, school staff and others have to do to get a new group of kids (who would rather be on TikTok or other apps) to pay attention in class.

Given these challenges, keep in mind that we also offer a ton of mental health and wellness resources if you’re looking for ways to take a mental break or for some inspiration to get toward the finish line for the first half of the year.

That said, we’re here to help you teach your way across the midway point that is December! In addition to winter holiday lesson plans and activities, consider these topics when lesson planning (or trying to save time) this December before we all get a much deserved break.

Rosa Parks Day

Rosa Parks, an African American civil rights activist, gained prominence for her pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement, particularly for her act of defiance on Dec. 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Ala. Her refusal to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger catalyzed the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a significant event in the struggle for racial equality. Collaborating with influential leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Parks significantly contributed to the movement's momentum. In recognition of her contributions, she was honored with several prestigious awards, including the NAACP's Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal. Posthumously, her legacy was further cemented with a statue in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall, symbolizing her enduring impact on American history and civil rights.

Bicentennial of the Monroe Doctrine

Proclaimed by President James Monroe on Dec. 2, 1823, the Monroe Doctrine has been a key aspect of U.S. foreign policy for nearly two centuries. It declared any external intervention in the Americas as a threat to the U.S., setting the stage for American imperialism and influence in the Western Hemisphere. This doctrine highlights the rise of the U.S. as a regional power and shapes its approach to international intervention. Understanding the Monroe Doctrine is crucial for students, offering insights into the historical and current dynamics of American foreign policy.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed annually on Dec. 3, serves as a reminder of the importance of inclusion, equity and accessibility for all individuals, regardless of their abilities. This day is not only a call for action toward creating a more inclusive society but also a moment to celebrate and acknowledge the diverse contributions and experiences of people with disabilities. Teaching preK-12 students about the importance of empathy and accepting people of all backgrounds is crucial in fostering an inclusive mindset from a young age. When young learners are exposed to the concepts of diversity and inclusion, they develop a deeper understanding and respect for people who may have different abilities or challenges.

Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party, marking its 250th anniversary, remains a pivotal moment in American history, symbolizing the growing resistance against British colonial rule. On Dec. 16, 1773, American colonists, frustrated by British taxation without representation, notably dumped 342 chests of British tea into the Boston Harbor. This act of defiance played a crucial role in escalating tensions that ultimately led to the American Revolution. Teaching students about the Boston Tea Party today is vital because it underscores the importance of civic action and protest in effecting political change. It also serves as a foundational event that helps students understand the principles of democracy and the historical struggles for representation and freedom.

American Revolution Socratic Seminar

Lesson Plan | Grades 6-12, Higher Education

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Turns 75

The 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights marks a significant milestone in the global pursuit of human rights. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948, also known as Human Rights Day, the UDHR set forth fundamental human rights to be universally protected. Teaching students about the UDHR today is crucial for fostering an understanding of human rights, the struggles and progress in their protection, and the ongoing challenges faced in different parts of the world. The day encourages young minds to appreciate the principles of equality, respect and justice, and inspires them to become informed and empathetic global citizens committed to upholding these universal values in a rapidly changing world.

Welcoming Newcomer Students

Many school districts are facing record numbers of new enrollments from immigrant students. If this describes your district, be sure to register for our Dec. 14 webinar with Colorín Colorado and the AFT, Newcomer Immigrant Students: Helpful PreK-12 Tips for What to Do First, and hear from expert practitioners about the particular needs of newcomer English language learners and to get tips, resources and strategies you can use right away to help ELLs adjust to their new surroundings successfully. And remember, this webinar is eligible for one hour of professional development credit when you attend live or on demand. Register here and learn more with the link below.

Clara Barton

Are your students studying the Civil War? Have they heard of Clara Barton, born Dec. 25, 1821? In a period dominated by male narratives, Barton's role as a nurse, humanitarian and founder of the American Red Cross challenges traditional gender roles, showcasing the vital role women played in wartime—and in America in the 1800s. Bonus facts: Did you know Barton opened one of the first free public schools in New Jersey, and that she was one of the first women to work for the federal government in the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C., before the Civil War? By teaching about Barton and her contemporaries, educators can provide a more inclusive and comprehensive understanding of American history, emphasizing the diverse figures who shaped it. This approach not only honors their contributions but also inspires future generations to recognize and value the impact of women in history.

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Andy Kratochvil

Andy Kratochvil is an SML team member who loves hiking, scary books, Mexican food, and finding great content for the Share My Lesson community.He studied political science and French at California State University, Fullerton and received his Master’s in International Affairs from American University

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