The resources collected on this page are intended to assist teachers in addressing difficult topics in the classroom by providing them with strategies and lesson resources.  Please carefully preview the materials before sharing them in your classroom.

Teaching Hard History by Teaching Tolerance

This website focuses on teaching about slavery. The site offers an incredible amount of resources for teachers and lessons that can be used in the classroom

Highlight: Teaching Hard History: American Slavery Podcast

  Great mix of episodes that increase teacher knowledge about slavery and its connections to all areas of American history and episodes that focus on how to teach about slavery using resources such as children’s books and films.

 Highlight:    Teaching Hard History Key Concepts Videos

     Teaching Hard History has a framework of ten key concepts about slavery.  Each concept is explained in a short video that combines scholarly narration with primary source images.  Each video is accompanied by a set of text dependent questions that can be used to engage students in a discussion of the video.


Facing History and Ourselves

 This website offers an array of teaching resources on a number of topics including Race in US History  The site offers full lesson plans as well as readings with embedded questions to guide student analysis. The website also offers step by step implementation directions for many different teaching strategies.

Highlight:  Big Paper: Building a Silent Conversation

This strategy is not only a great tool for encouraging every student to participate in discussion, it is also useful for encouraging students to think before they share, which is important when dealing with sensitive subjects


Middle Web Blog- Future of History: Learning How to Teach Controversial Topics

Author Sarah Cooper shares her steps and missteps in incorporating Angie Thomas’ novel The Hate U Give into her curriculum.  Cooper’s reflection on the successes and challenges of the unit offer teachers some excellent suggestions on handling sensitive topics in the classroom.


Teaching with the Library of Congress Blog Post: Dealing with Difficult Subjects in Primary Sources

This blog entry by Danna Bell gives teachers some useful suggestions on how they can use primary sources that depict negative stereotypes and use offensive language in the classroom by acknowledging and discussing those aspects of the source.


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum- Guidelines for Teaching About the Holocaust 

While the guidelines were developed specifically for teaching about the Holocaust, they can be used to guide the study of any sensitive topic. 


Making Connections to Tennessee History

Students returning to classrooms this fall will likely have many questions and opinions related to the ongoing conversation about race in American society.  One avenue for addressing the topic is to make connections between current events and historical events.  The teacher packets linked below contain content essays, student activities and whenever possible links to primary sources that can deepen student understanding of the event.  The topics selected below can help address three essential questions relevant to our current conversation about race: 

 Who has power in a society? 

 How is power expressed? 

 How do groups and individuals bring about change? 


Regulators and the Battle of Alamance

Tennessee Constitutions

Ku Klux Klan in Tennessee

Ida B. Wells

Tennessee in the Era of Jim Crow

Columbia Race Riots

Diane Nash

Highlander Folk School

Tent Cities in Fayette and Haywood

The Clinton 12 and the Integration of Clinton High School

The Nashville Sit Ins


Additional Resources

Black in Appalachia website

This website has links to the East Tennessee PBS videos on 8th of August and Knoxville’s Red Summer: The Riot of 1919