“To be a Stronger Tree”: Understanding Hate Crimes & Resisting Hate

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This lesson contains three parts, which help students to understand: the Tree of Life attack, hate crimes in a larger sense, and how they can take action to enduringly resist hate. It specifically addresses antisemitism, anti-immigrant bias, and recent hate crimes. For Day 1, students consider the Tree of Life attack by looking at an editorial cartoon, reading a news account of the incident, and debriefing the reading by engaging in a discussion about the actual crime, Bowers’ hateful comments, and local and national reactions to the shooting. For homework, they spend a brief amount of time researching a particular bias incident, hate crime, or hate crime law. For Day 2, students will post their research on a timeline and spend time examining the incidents, capturing information that will help them to draw conclusions about hate crimes. The lesson concludes with a consideration of hateful comments posted to the web by Bowers and the El Paso shooter.

The third part of the lesson starts with Day 3 and will end at the teacher’s discretion. The lesson includes five options for students to undertake meaningful work to prepare students to resist hate. The options include detailed checklists for students to execute the work, as well as aligned standards for teachers to build aligned rubrics. Teachers will decide how to approach the task and should select options (one or all five options; independent or group task; etc.) based on their school and course contexts. The lessons use: reading, video, discussion, think-pair-share, timeline walks, and reflection. To preview the materials, read this guide and refer to the slides referenced in the Printables and Project to Students files.

Kate Lukaszewicz is a middle school history teacher at Sewickley Academy.


Suggested Technology: Computer for Presenter, Projector, Laptops for Students, Internet Connection, Speakers/Headphones, timer (can be inserted into slides from YouTube)

Instructional Time: 6 hours.


  • Ateret Cope
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The following lesson plan has won Classrooms Without Borders' FIRST PLACE PRIZE in the contest for lesson plans about antisemitism and hate, in commemoration of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

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