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The Incredible Lives Behind the New Faces of U.S. Currency

This week, the United States Treasury announced that it would be changing the faces on U.S. currency to include leaders from the civil rights and women's rights movements, including Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marian Anderson, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. If you're looking for differentiated lessons on these notable figures—to build background knowledge for an in-class discussion—we've got just the thing. Have your students read these ThinkCERCA lessons about the lives and actions of these incredible individuals, then have them write or participate in a Socratic discussion using our suggested prompts listed below.

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Leveled Independent Reading Lessons

  • Progress Is the Law How did Elizabeth Cady Stanton use words and actions to fight for the rights of women? (Grades 3-5; CCSS.CCRA.R.8)
  • Alice Paul How did Alice Paul help shape history? (Grades 3-5; CCSS.CCRA.R.5)
  • A Woman on the $20 Bill? How do people feel about putting a woman's face on U.S. money? (Grades 3-5; CCSS.CCRA.R.7)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. What made Martin Luther King, Jr. such an inspiring leader? (Grades 3-5; CCSS.CCRA.R.8)
  • Harriet Tubman, The Woman Called Moses What events led to Harriet Tubman's participation in the Underground Railroad? (Grades 6-8; CCSS.CCRA.R.3)
  • A Landmark Concert 75 Years Ago What statement did Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson want to make through the Freedom Concert? (Grades 6-8; CCSS.CCRA.R.4)
  • Don't Go to Memphis Why was the work Martin Luther King, Jr. was doing in Memphis meaningful? (Grades 6-8; CCSS.CCRA.R.8)
  • Timely Leader What made Martin Luther King Jr. an American hero? (Grades 9-10; CCSS.CCRA.R.5)
  • Massive Nonviolence How did nonviolent protests in Birmingham affect the civil rights movement? (Grades 11-12; CCSS.CCRA.R.1)

Applied Writing Lessons

After building your students' background knowledge, use questions like these as discussion or writing prompts:

  • What traits, qualities, or accomplishments make these individuals worthy of appearing on U.S. currency?
  • Currency is a national symbol. What do the inclusion of these individuals on U.S. currency say about what the United States stands for?
  • Given the individuals the Treasury is choosing to include on U.S. currency, what might have been the motivation to make this change?

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