High School Lesson Plans

Welcome High School Educators

These lessons have been designed, in consultation with high school teachers, for use in standard U.S. History, English, and Advanced Placement courses. For the teacher, they are clear and easy to follow. They conform to California Academic Standards, but are open to teachers' ideas and variations.The student will relate to the investigative part of the Plans, since they make use of the internet and MP4 files. This will encourage lively discussions and thoughtful essays. The Plans are designed to empower students to 1) consider their own and societies’ attitudes and assumptions to issues that affect their lives 2) consider their own moral ethics and the values of America and 3) question their place in society, their rights as they enter the workforce, and their hopes for the future.

To access the Plans click on the appropriate link below to download the Teacher's Edition (in Microsoft Word format) with either English or History and Social Science Standards. The Teacher's Edition includes two or three pages of "Worksheets" and "Homework Sheets" to be printed and handed out to your students. Below the description of each Plan is the Student Resources link which has the live links for your students' research. The plans are designed for either 2 class periods and one homework assignment or 3 class periods and two homework assignments.

We will value your feedback and your students' feedback to these Plans! Please email us at

1) Collective Bargaining

Teacher's Editions –

Collective Bargaining (CA English Standards)

Collective Bargaining (CA History and Social Science Standards)

Students will learn some basic principles of collective bargaining by taking part in a simulated negotiation. As union and management representatives of a hospital, they will prepare their positions and then meet face to face with the “other side.” They will then consider the importance of these kinds of skills in their daily lives.

Collective Bargaining (Student Resources)

2) Workers' Rights

Teacher's Editions –

Workers' Rights (CA English Standards)

Workers' Rights (CA History and Social Science Standards)

Investigate the passage of laws that gave rise to the American labor movement, consider the role of the government and of unions in protecting your rights, and discover how much or little you know about your rights in preparation for going out into the workforce.

Workers' Rights (Student Resources)

3) Communism and Terrorism

Teacher's Editions –

The Faces of Communism and Terrorism (CA English Standards)

The Faces of Communism and Terrorism (CA History and Social Science Standards)

Investigate how perceptions of danger from outside forces can have powerful influences on our society and on our daily lives.

The Faces of Communisim and Terrorism (Student Resources)

4) Surveillance to Data Mining: the Gathering of Information

Teacher's Editions –

Surveillance to Data Mining: the Gathering of Information (CA English Standards)

Surveillance to Data Mining: the Gathering of Information (CA History Social Science Standards)

Investigate the methods and technology used in the surveillance of individuals during the mid 20th century and then consider government surveillance since 9/11 with its far more sophisticated technology and the practice of “data mining.”

Surveillance to Data Mining: the Gathering of Information (Student Resources)

5) Truth in the Media

Teacher's Editions –

Truth in the Media(CA English Standards)

Truth in the Media (CA History and Social Science Standards)

Investigate and compare the effectiveness of the media – print, radio, television and now Internet – in accurately reporting the 1934 strike in San Francisco, as well as in accurately reporting a controversial issue today.

Truth in the Media(Student Resources)

6) The Embargo of Cuba

Teacher's Editions –

The Embargo of Cuba (CA English Standards)

The Embargo of Cuba (CA History and Social Science Standards)

Investigate how the communist revolution in Cuba, led by Fidel Castro, led to an economic embargo of Cuba.

The Embargo of Cuba (Student Resources)

7) Patriotic Song Writing

Teacher's Editions –

Patriotic Song Writing (CA English Standards)

Patriotic Song Writing (CA History and Social Science Standards)

Investigate the writing of “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land.” Contrast the sentiments within the songs and the differences in the philosophies of the two songwriters, and write a poem or song that expresses your feelings about America.

Patriotic Song Writing (Student Resources)

8) Oral Histories

Teacher's Editions –

Oral Histories (CA English Standards)

Oral Histories (CA History and Social Sciences Standards)

Investigate interviewing techniques, learning how best to draw stories out of a subject. Learn about the kinds of questions to ask and then interview a family member.

Oral Histories (Student Resources)

9) The People vs. the Musicians: a Question of Rights

Teacher's Editions –

The People vs. the Musicians: a Question of Rights (CA English Standards)

The People vs. the Musicians: a Question of Rights (CA History and Social Science Standards)

Investigate the way that music was “shared” in the 1940’s and 1950’s and consider the widespread "sharing" of music and videos through internet sites today.

The People vs. the Musicians: a Question of Rights (Student Resources)

10) Women and Musical Activism

Teacher's Editions –

Women and Musical Activism (CA English Standards)

Women and Musical Activism (CA History and Social Studies Standards)

Investigate the impact of women as activists by focusing on specific moments in the life of singer Barbara Dane and write a personalized essay on the subject.

Women and Musical Activism (Student Resouces)

11) Amazing Grace and Slavery

Teacher's Editions –

Amazing Grace and Slavery (CA English Standards)

Amazing Grace and Slavery (CA History and Social Science Standards)

Investigate the conditions on ships bringing slaves to America in the 1700s and learn about John Newton, the slave ship captain who had an “epiphany” and eventually wrote “Amazing Grace."

Amazing Grace and Slavery (Student Resources)

12) Sit-Ins!

Teacher's Editions –

Sit -Ins! (CA English Standards)

Sit-Ins! (CA History and Social Science Standards)

Investigate a number of sit-ins in American history from 1936 to the present, looking at the conditions that sparked the protests and determining their success or failure.

Sit-Ins! (Student Resources)


High School Performances

Ian Ruskin has performed a special version of “From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks” in high schools throughout California. It is designed to be performed within a single class period and raises specific issues relevant to students’ lives, which can be explored in the dicussion following the play. The perfomance is supplemented by a student questionnaire, lesson plan and list of (California) Academic Standards addressed by the play.

These performances were made possible with generous grants from the Diane Middleton and Silicon Valley Community Foundations.

He has also performed at universities and for teacher’ organizations –
– the California Teachers Association
– the California Federation of Teachers
– United Teachers of Los Angeles
– the Los Angles College Faculty Guild