The #USvsHate Process
#USvsHate projects can be completed in as few as two class periods or club meetings, or they can be expanded into longer lessons or units. Youth also can submit messages directly to our contests. We hope you’ll adapt this process to best suit your students, classroom, school, and community.
Above all, #USvsHate is about inviting student-made public messages insisting that we value all participants in our diverse schools and society. Our lesson offerings, partner book lists, and PD resources support dialogue about respect, invite deeper exploration of biases and injustices, and lay the foundation for embracing inclusion and justice for all.
(You don’t have to use our lessons to make #USvsHate anti-hate messages. You can add #USvsHate messaging to any anti-hate learning experience you design. You can invite students to make #USvsHate messages after reading anti-bias books, Students have made #USvsHate messaging in classrooms, clubs, schoolwide activities, extracurricular activities, and from home.)
***In 2022-2023, students can also consider participating in our Special Call, where we invite students to make #USvsHate messages about the inclusive education they want in school.
How does #USvsHate work?
1. Consider local needs.
Again, students can make #USvsHate messaging after any related activities that promote inclusion and diversity. Or, take these steps to go deeper with #USvsHate’s possibilities in your school:
- DETERMINE YOUR COMMUNITY NEEDS. (and your own.) Before beginning your #USvsHate project, you might invite feedback from students and other members of your school or classroom community. What learning, conversations, and public messaging may be most needed to encourage students and adults in your school to value all communities and treat everyone as part of “us”? You might ask:
- Look at the #USvsHate Principles on our About page, and Winning Messages. Watch one of our launch videos amplifying lots of student voices (available on the side of this page). To make our school feel welcoming and inclusive for all students, what messages do our students need to hear daily?
- We want to refuse both “hate” as bigotry and slurs, and behaviors denigrating “types of people” throughout our society. Recently, have you heard students or adults make derogatory remarks or express biased opinions about particular groups of people? Give an example. What can we learn and do in our school or community for all of us to instead feel welcome, included, seen, respected, and valued?
- What aspects of diversity in our school/community do we wish were better valued and appreciated?
- Are there deeper issues of bias, fairness or justice in your school, community, or country that you wish your class would explore more? What are they?
- You might now check out the Lessons on usvshate.org (see below). You don’t have to use them to make #USvsHate anti-hate messages, but it’s a great set of dialogue activities to consider.
- DETERMINE YOUR OWN NEEDS. What skills and knowledge can you build before leading students through the #USvsHate process? Check out our PD resources!, and dialogue tips and tools! For community, consider joining the #Schooltalking Facebook group and following our partner organizations.
- BUILD A COALITION. Consider how you can include colleagues, administrators, district staff, and families before you begin your project. Remind them: #USvsHate’s goal is to unite school communities in learning about our diverse society and each other, and to make public messages saying everyone is part of “us.” You may want to share this site with collaborators before you begin, and discuss student answers to the questions above.
2. Choose lesson(s)!
Review the lessons. Again, you do not have to use #USvsHate lessons to submit messages to our national challenges. You can build anti-hate messaging into your existing curriculum or any school activities. But our Lessons are awesome, so give yourself enough time to read, choose, and flag resources to explore later. Our PD resources offer tons of dialogue tips, too. You can also review book lists and invite students to make #USvsHate messages after reading a great anti-bias book!
Start where it works: choose lessons or books from our partner book lists that fit your school’s needs, your curriculum, your preparation, and your student relationships. You can ask your students to make #USvsHate messages after just one lesson, or even just after reviewing usvshate.org. Whatever lessons or activities you choose, build on what you are already doing!
Of course, we’ve found that the best results come from a combination of lessons and texts that take learning deeper. #USvsHate immediately prompts discussions about respecting people, refusing bigotry, and being kind. #USvsHate then supports ongoing exploration of how to counter deeper dynamics of bias and harm throughout our society. Ideally, #USvsHate supports *ongoing* curricular and social activities that help students learn to explore, respect and value all communities’ experiences. Our Lesson lists and PD resources offer onramps to the journey! See Teacher Stories for others’ experiences with specific lessons.
Remember the ultimate goals of #USvsHate: we want students to more fully know and value themselves and the people they share their school, community, and nation with, and we want to encourage students to take action against hate, bias, and injustice. Of course this is part of school!
#USvsHate lays the groundwork by insisting publicly that all people are equally valuable.
3. Teach the lesson(s).
Each of our Lesson pages offers suggestions for Before You Teach. Check out our PD resources. Reading anti-bias books and inviting students to make #USvsHate public messages afterwards is a lesson in itself.
4. Create anti-hate messages.
Invite students to create anti-hate messages in any media to complete any #USvsHate lesson, to complete a series of lessons of your choice, or after reading a great anti-bias book. Let them explore prior winners as they consider possible message forms!
Look again at our #USvsHate Principles. Ask your students to imagine a school in a society where everyone is treated as equally valuable, diversity is explored and celebrated, bigotry is prevented, folks support each other, and everyone feels like they belong. What messages are on the walls or on the loudspeaker, or circulating on the school’s media or student phones?
Now invite students to make the messages they want to see!
You can also give students this guide and let them run with it.
Remind students that the goal is to create an original #USvsHate message that will do one or more of the following:
- communicate that people across lines of difference contribute to our communities, regions, and nation, are equally valuable, and deserve access to opportunity and well-being;
- explicitly address, explore, and refuse racism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, antisemitism, sexism, or other forms of hate, bias and injustice in schools and society, insisting instead on a society that works for everyone;
- celebrate our actual diversity and similarity, busting myths (challenging stereotypes) about any “type of” person too often misrepresented;
- ask people to treat each other kindly, fairly and respectfully, so schools stay safe for learning and society includes us all.
Emphasize that no message submitted should be harmful or hateful to others.
***In 2023-2024, students also can create/submit #USvsHate messages with our Special Call focus.
Here are a few things to remember as students make messages:
- Students can make #USvsHate messages as individuals or in groups.
- Students’ messages can be made in any media. See prior winners: That means hand-drawn or digital images, to become stickers and posters or be shared digitally; essays; poems; performances or public actions documented in photos or on video; public service announcements, videos, memes, speeches, and spoken word; op-eds; tshirt designs; art installations—the options are endless. An anti-hate message can be drawn by hand on paper, or created digitally using a phone or computer. A speech into a smartphone camera, a great letter to the editor, a photograph, a comic book, an infographic, a public event, or an animation can be an anti-hate message.
- Invite students to share and improve draft messages with peers.
- Possible discussion questions:
- How does each anti-hate message realize one of the four goals above? (If students are reacting to our Special Call, focus on its questions.)
- (**Pro tip: if #USvsHate messages are attempting to challenge stereotypes, push beyond negative myth-busting messages like “I am not XX.” Those can plant the stereotype in viewers’ minds! How can pro-diversity messages convey who we are, not only who we are not?)
- Will the message inspire viewers to improve their school or society? (You might look at our #USvsHate Principles again.)
- What could be added or changed to make this message more powerful, and to reach an intended audience?
- How could this public message help our community, or keep a necessary conversation going?
- Suggested norms:
- Do not disparage anyone’s message.
- Find something about others’ messages that you can affirm and compliment in some way.
- If you disagree with the message, address the message, while respecting the creator.
- **It’s OK to explore additional #US hashtags. In insisting on inclusion and justice for all, we’ve seen students make crucial public messages about economic inequality, education opportunity, even climate change. If your students feel their final messages need a different #US hashtag in addition to #USvsHate (e.g., #USvsRacism; #USvsSexism; #USvsPoverty; #USvsInjustice; #USforJustice; #USforEarth, etc.), go for it! On any messages that win our contests, we will combine your #US hashtag of choice with #USvsHate. Our 2022-2023 Special Call invites the additional hashtag #LetUsLearn.
5. Share/submit messages.
Share students’ anti-hate messaging locally. This is a crucial part of #USvsHate. Public messaging sets the tone locally for embracing inclusion and justice for all. Students and teachers are sharing messages locally on school walls, bulletin boards, websites, and T-shirts, via gallery walks, and in assemblies to highlight live speeches or presentations. Document local sharing on social media, using the #USvsHate hashtag. This helps grow the “us” working against hate, bias, and injustice!
Then, submit “best” messages to #USvsHate for broader sharing in our national message challenges!
Here are a few things to remember as you prepare to submit:
- Teachers can submit 3 entries max per class, per challenge! Consider inviting students to help you select entries.
- PLAN AHEAD: For students under 18, parent/guardian permission is required for any entry submitted with a student’s name on it. (You don’t have to upload a permission slip; you will just vouch personally that you got this permission when you submit.) Here’s a permission slip educators can use to get that parent permission. Get permissions however works for you. See Kim’s story on #USvsHate Teacher Stories, for how one educator handled permissions by email.
- (Students under 18 who submit for themselves must prepare to get parent/guardian permission to share by first name if they win.)
- Any message submitted must be ready to share publicly. Help us out: make sure any submission doesn’t contain a student’s full name or school name! (e.g., as a student introduces a video). We use first names (with permission) and state only when sharing.
- When you submit, educators and students are invited to share the teaching, learning, and intentions behind messages. Plan ahead– we share these backstories with winning entries!
Winning entries will be amplified nationally via our website and social media. A subset will be made into free posters and stickers for participating classrooms. Check out our latest winning messages!
6. Ask each other: “what’s next?“
Now, take the most important followup step of all: ask students and colleagues what they want to learn and do NEXT in your school community. Is there a next topic on the website that people want to explore? Could a favorite #USvsHate activity be taught every year? Who could join #USvsHate in a next round? Go for it!
- To figure out “what’s next,” you might ask students and adults these questions:
- What is one thing you learned from the #USvsHate activity, or are still thinking about?
- If you could change one thing about the #USvsHate activity, what would you change?
- Which issue from the #USvsHate site do you think students should learn about next? (e.g., stereotypes, bullying, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism.) Why?
- Is there an issue of deeper bias or injustice in our society or your school that needs your attention? Do you have a specific vision for creating schools and a society where everyone is treated as equally valuable?
- What other actions do you want to take toward that vision? How could students help lead next steps?
- (Sign up with contributing organizations for ongoing resources.)
- Many #USvsHate teachers have reached out NEXT to colleagues in their school to invite them to teach lessons together. Teachers have shared their work with administrators, entire faculties, parents, and even school boards. Some are now doing #USvsHate schoolwide.
Our goal is to refuse hate together — and do the long-term work to treat all as equally valuable. Join us!
Sign up for the #USvsHate newsletter here, and follow @USvsHate on Instagram.