Teaching Tolerance

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Teaching Civil Rights during February is often expected of U.S. History teachers, but it doesn’t have to be the creation of a timeline of key events, or a study of Martin Luther King, Jr. I take a slightly different approach and use technology to drive home a lesson of global tolerance.

I start off by guiding the students to create a class definition of tolerance: the willingness to accept something you do not like, understand or agree with.  Then with the help of Danielle Knight’s lesson from Teachers pay Teachers, students learn the meaning of the lyrics behind U2’s song:  “Pride, In the Name of Love”.  On Youtube, we watch the original video (which always leads to student guffaws over Bono’s hair and dancing) and then a video that sets the same song to a compilation of news footage from the Civil Rights Movement.  It is an engaging way to introduce Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of equality and tolerance.  

We then move onto the technology portion of the lesson.  Using Amy Zschaber’s lesson plan, students create a Tagxedo of who they are and what they want others to tolerate in themselves.  

  1. Using a Google Doc students created a list of 55 words about themselves.  
  2. Open Tagxedo.com  – it seems to work better in Firefox or Safari.  If you are using a Mac, you will need to install Silverlight first.
  3. Students then click on create, which brings them to the creation page. (Image 1)
  4. Click on load on the left side menu, paste the words from the Google Doc into the enter text box and click submit, the image will then “respin”. (Image 2)
  5. Click on Shape in the left side menu, and choose add Image at the bottom of that dialogue box. (Image 3)
  6. Choose a picture of the student.  When  the image loads will it may look like a black blob, so use the threshold and blur options to make the image more clear. (Using a picture with a white background works best.) (Image 4)
  7. Click accept and the image will ”respin” into the student’s photo with the words within the shape. (Image 5)
  8. I then allow students to change the colors by clicking on theme on the left side menu.  (Image 6)
  9. Students can also choose a new font by clicking on font on the left side menu. (Image 7)
  10. To save or print click on save/share on the left side menu and select the option you would like. (Image 8)

I enjoy teaching this lesson each year because the students really enjoy using Tagxedo, and it opens the door to honest conversation about who we are as a society and how far we have truly come in terms of equality.

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