These resources about the 2020 Election and subsequent events, including the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, include educational resources you can use in the classroom and tips for discussion with English language learners (ELLs) and immigrants.
Special thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for maintaining great resource lists and archives on these topics.
Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol: Resources for Educators
We are compiling classroom resources about the events of January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol as they become available.
Making Space: Teaching After Trauma
In this Edutopia piece, Dr. Tracy Edwards writes, "Although the urge to immediately fix, teach, or somehow solve problems for our students may be strong, we must hold space for reflection, honest dialogue, and questions as they arise."
Discussing political violence with ELLs, immigrants, and refugees
If you are discussing these events with ELLs and immigrant students, please keep in mind that these events will take a lot of time for students and educators alike to process. Students may also have questions about how the police response to the events at the Capitol compares to responses to racial justice protests. In addition, keep in mind the following:
These events may be particularly traumatic for students who have endured armed conflict, civil war, unrest, and violence in their home country. That violence may be the reason they came to America, and they may have many opinions and questions about current events. Students may also have personal questions and considerations about their own safety or that of their families for a variety of reasons.
- Consider providing students a private space to share their thoughts, such as a digital journal.
- Prepare for these discussions in collaboration with counselors and other mental health professionals.
- Learn more about trauma-informed instruction for immigrant students.
See more in the following:
ELL/immigrant students and their families need to know that they are valued members of your class, school, and community.
- Continue efforts to make them feel welcome.
- If you aren't sure what that looks like in virtual settings, ask them what would make them feel more welcome, perhaps in private conversations or small focus groups.
- Share those ideas with colleagues and administrators as you hear them.
ELLs may face additional bullying or harassment in coming weeks and months.
- Communicate to your class that all students are valued members of the classroom and bullying or disrespectful speech, including against ELLs and immigrant students, will not be tolerated.
- Share the importance of these message with other colleagues.
- See helpful ideas in 8 Tips to Protect ELLs from Bullying in Your Classroom and School.
Students may have deep personal feelings about the outcomes of the 2020 election for a number of reasons.
Some of these reasons include the following:
- ELL and immigrant students may have felt the impacts of changing immigration policies in recent years, directly or indirectly.
- They may also have experienced bullying or harassment due to a number of factors, including their ethnicity, language, or religion.
- Many immigrant families have also been particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic and students may be shouldering heavy levels of responsibility at home.
- Students may also be concerned about retribution against themselves based on the outcome of the election.
In your instruction:
- Remember that some students may not wish to discuss these events right away. Students may need time, space, and privacy to process what is unfolding. And, like teachers, many students are exhausted. Finding positive things to focus on and letting students know that you are there to listen when they are ready is an important first step. (See more on this topic from Dr. Tracy Edwards' related Twitter thread.)
- Proceed with utmost care and sensitivity. Look for ways to embed social-emotional support and learning across the curriculum. While some students may wish to engage in group discussion, others may feel uncomfortable drawing any attention to themselves or their family's situation.
- Consider reaching out to administrators and mental health colleagues or partners to establish some more robust support for students who are under tremendous strain due to the pandemic and perhaps feeling high levels of anxiety.
- Avoid making assumptions about any student's experience or political leanings.
- Explain that the long process of counting votes after the election proceeded as normal and was expected, especially with the high number of mail-in ballots this year due to the pandemic.
See more in the following resources:
- Embedding Social-Emotional Learning for ELLs Across the Curriculum in Any Learning Environment
- Providing Social-Emotional Support for Immigrant Students
Students and families may have questions about what the election and current events might mean for them.
- Speak with students and families directly to find out their concerns.
- Acknowledge the difficulty of the uncertainty families have been experiencing.
- Find out which local organizations have ties to your community.
- Look for ways to provide ongoing updates of information in families' home languages. Building school-community partnerships have proven to be critical in addressing families' questions and concerns about the pandemic, immigration issues, and other key topics.
- Don't lose sight of the strengths that ELL/immigrant students and families bring to their schools and our communities every day. The better you know your families, the more deeply you can tap into those strengths.
See more tips here:
- Addressing Immigrant Families' Questions and Concerns
- Connecting Immigrant Families with Legal Support and Advice
See additional tips and resources for discussing the 2020 election with student below.
Looking Back at Jan. 6, 2021
- Resources for Educators: January 6, 2021 (PBS NewsHour Classroom)
- 8 ways teachers are talking about Jan. 6 in their classrooms (NPR)
- Opinion: My Students Still Have Questions About the Capitol Riot. They Deserve Honest Answers (Education Week)
Teaching the events of Jan. 6, 2021
- How to Engage Students in Civil Discourse Following Events at the U.S Capitol (PBS NewsHour Extra)
- Classroom Resource: How to Teach the Insurrection at the Capitol (PBS NewsHour Extra)
- Zoom chat: How to Have a Conversation with Your Students About the Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol (PBS NewsHour Extra)
- How Police Responded at the Capitol and During Racial Injustice Protests (PBS NewsHour Extra)
- This Moment in Time: Navigating Unprecedented Historical Events (Share My Lesson)
- What Teachers Are Planning to Teach About the Events of January 6, 2021 (The Washington Post)
- Insurgency at the U.S. Capitol: A Dreaded, Real-Life Lesson Facing Education (Education Week)
- Responding to the Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol (Facing History)
- Violent Mob Storms the Capitol, Tries to Overturn the Election (Newsela)
In addition to these resources, learn how other educators are managing this moment through your local networks or online networks.
- Ways to Teach About the Capitol Insurrection (Larry Ferlazzo)
- How to Teach the U.S. Capitol Attack: Dozens of Resources to Get You Started (Education Week)
- January 6, 2021: Resources for Educators (NYC Department of Education and Civics for All)
- What Are Your Reactions to the Storming of the Capitol? (The New York Times)
About the U.S. Capitol
- The U.S. Capitol: Lesson Plans (U.S. Capitol Visitor Center)
- A Landmark Lesson: The U.S. Capitol Building (EDSITEment!)
- Virtual Tours and Distance Learning Resources: U.S. Capitol (Architect of the Capitol)
- Capitol vs. Capital: How to Choose the Right Word (Thought.co)
Responding to trauma
- Caring for Students in the Wake of a Traumatic News Event (Education Week)
- When Bad Things Are Happening (Teaching Tolerance)
- Secondary Traumatic Stress: Resources for Educators (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
Resources for families
- Talking to Kids about Violence at the U.S. Capitol (Common Sense Media)
- How to Talk to Kids About Riots at the Capitol (NPR)
- How to Talk to Your Children About Events at the Capitol (National Geographic)
- How to Talk with Your Kids About Violence at the Capitol (Denver Post)
Talking about tough topics in the news
- Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event (Child Mind)
- Helping Children with Tragic Events in the News (PBS Parents)
- When Something Scary Happens (PBS Parents)
- Parenting for a Challenging World: Recovery After a Traumatic Event (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
- Explaining the News to Our Kids (Common Sense Media)
Resources in Spanish
- Cómo hablar con los niños sobre la violencia en el Capitolio de los Estados Unidos (Common Sense Media)
- Los eventos en el Capitolo de Washington (BBC News Mundo)
- El mundo mira a la violencia en el Capitolio (CNN en español)
- 15 consejos para hablar sobre la violencia
- Talking About Racism and Violence: Resources for Educators and Families
- Lesson Plans on Race, Civil Rights, and Charlottesville
- 15 Tips for Talking with Children About Violence
Classroom Resources: Media Literacy
- Twitter chat: How can the journalists of today help the historians of tomorrow? (PBS Student Reporting Labs)
- Webinar: How to Teach Post-Election and Work Towards Unity (PBS NewsHour Extra)
Articles & blog posts
- Time to Boost Media Literacy (Facing History)
- Fostering Civil Discourse: How do we talk about issues that matter? (Facing History)
- The U.S. Election Underscores the Need for Teaching News Literacy in Our Schools (EdSurge)
- Digital Literacy in the Classroom (Teaching Tolerance)
Classroom Resources: Election 2020
After the Election
- 2020 Election Coverage (PBS NewsHour)
- Super Civics 2020 (PBS NewsHour Extra)
- Student Opinion: What is your reaction to the results of Election 2020? (The New York Times)
Immigration stories and topics
- Irish Home of Biden's Great-Great-Great Grandfather Cheers His Victory (The New York Times)
- As Kamala D. Harris Breaks Barriers, India and Jamaica Celebrate (The Washington Post)
- Six immigration issues Biden may take on (Reuters)
Election Week: Waiting for Results
- During election week like no other, teachers help students make sense of it all (The Washington Post)
- Social studies teachers turn election uncertainty into teachable moment (National Council on Social Studies)
- Navigating November 4th (Facing History)
- What to Discuss with Students After the Election (PBS NewsHour Extra)
- What Is the AP and How Do Outlet Call Results? (PBS NewsHour Extra)
- How Mail Votes Could Delay Election Results (The New York Times)
Preparing for the 2020 Election
- What I'll Say to My History Class If There Is No Clear Winner on Election Night (Education Week)
- How Can Teachers and Students Discuss the 2020 Election? (Teaching Channel)
- Teaching the 2020 Election: What Will You Do on Wednesday? (Teaching Tolerance)
- Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo: 4-Part Series on Politics in the Classroom (Education Week)
- Day After Election Guide (Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities)
- Teaching About the 2020 Presidential Election (National Council for Social Studies)
- Let's Talk About Election 2020 (KQED Learn)
- Resources for the 2020 Election (Larry Ferlazzo's Best Websites of the Day)
- 2020 Election: Learning Plan (Teaching Tolerance)
Multimedia: 2020 Election & Civics Resources for Students
- Talking with Young Kids About Elections, Voting, and Justice for All (PBS Kids)
- Turning Out: The Youth Vote (NewsHour Student Reporting Labs)
- iCivics: 2020 Election Headquarters (See iCivics resources and games available in Spanish)
- National Student/Parent Mock Election: Voter Education Portal Teaching Materials
- Election Day Videos for Students (Simply Kinder)
- Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out
- Civics in Real Life (Florida Joint Center for Citizenship)
Resources for ELLs
- Newsela: Bilingual news articles at different reading levels and Common Core-aligned quizzes
- Listenwise: Current Events & Election Podcasts
- Video for ELLs: How Congress Works (Voice of America, via Larry Ferlazzo)
- CNN 10 (CNN)
Spanish-Language Election Information
Useful Resources from Prior Elections
- 8 Questions for Nate Silver (Time for Kids)
- Five Ways to Support Undocumented Students During Election Season (Teaching Tolerance)
- Don't Count Them Out Just Because They Can't Cast a Ballot (NPR)
- Civil Conversation Challenge for Teenagers (The New York Times)
- Speak Up for Civility (Teaching Tolerance)
- Bias in the Presidential Election (Table Talk parent/family discussion guide)
- Education World: Primaries, Voting, and Elections
- ReadWriteThink: Election Lesson Plans
Books & Authors
My America: Many Voices, Many Stories
These books celebrate a diverse range of American voices and experiences, including voting in an election, immigrating to this country, and the journey to becoming a U.S. citizen.
Featured Video: Janet Wong reads "Liberty"
Poet Janet Wong reads and discusses her poem "Liberty", which is featured in Poems to Learn by Heart.
Book and Activity Guides
- Our Democracy: Explore Government, Voting, and Active Citizenship! (Start with a Book/Reading Rockets)
- Activate Young Citizens: Books and Activities for Elementary and Secondary Students (Read Across America/NEA)
Reading Rockets offers the following great booklists about elections, government, and U.S. presidents: