Marieke's Publications for Educators

Marieke has developed staff handbooks, facilitation guides and other written materials to support educators, trainers and facilitators in various contexts. She also makes regular contributions to TeachableMoment.Org, which publishes classroom lessons that foster critical thinking on issues of the day and promote a positive classroom environment. Marieke's goal when developing classroom materials is to provide educators with the background research and detailed lesson plan descriptions they need to connect to students' personal experience and knowledge, so as to engage students and encourage them to expand their horizons and learn new skills.

Curricula & Teaching Guides

Peace Helpers Beginning with the Children: A Guide to Creating a Peace Helpers Program
By Emma Gonzalez, Tom Roderick and Marieke van Woerkom

The 73-page guide describes a field-tested, step-by-step process schools can use to train and support young students (Grade K-2) in serving as "peace helpers" in their classrooms. Peace Helpers take part in workshops to develop their skills in listening, handling feelings, mediating conflicts, and leadership. Then they and their teacher establish a classroom peace corner, where students can go if they are upset or having a conflict.

- Download a PDF version of the Peace Helper guide. Or, to order bound copies, please email Morningside Center's Leslie Dennis at

Nothing Like My Home Nothing Like My Home: A High School Curriculum about the Iraqi Refugee Crisis
By Marieke van Woerkom

The Nothing Like My Home curriculum accompanies a gripping exhibit of 20 color photos, by photographer Lori Grinker, which capture the physical and emotional wounds inflicted on Iraqis by the ongoing violence in their country. The 53 page, 14 lesson, interactive curriculum builds on the exhibit's visual experience by introducing activities, discussions and assignments that seek to draw on students' own experience and knowledge to help them understand and empathize with the situation of others, in particular Iraqi refugees.

- For more information about bringing Nothing Like My Home to your school contact, Morningside Center's Tala Manassah at

The Nothing Like My Home Project has been very well received in schools across the country:
"Whenever I'm being taught something, I just get taught the facts instead of being given time to actually understand the person's point of view or why they may have acted that way. These activities gave me a more personal way to learn." Student at Beacon High School in Manhattan
"The project has deeply impacted my students by giving a face to the people who have been most gravely affected by the war in Iraq. The photos are able to humanize a crisis that is geographically distant, and the curriculum has engaged them in grappling with some of the emotions and dire circumstances that refugees of this war are forced to live in."   Teacher at Banana Kelly High School in the Bronx

ADVISORY Be the Change Be the Change!: Advisory Curriculum in Conflict Resolution for Middle & High School Students
By Tom Roderick and Marieke van Woerkom

This 104 page, 34 lesson plan, Conflict Resolution Curriculum is designed to teach Middle and High School Students the skills they need to become better problem solvers and leaders in their communities. The Curriculum's interactive lessons and use of stories written by predominantly African-American, Latino, and Asian teens, encourage students to explore their own life struggles, learn new skills and seek out solutions and cooperative approaches to growing their community together.

- To order your own copy of Be the Change! contact Morningside Center's Leslie Dennis at

TeachableMoment.Org Online Lesson Plans

HOLIDAYS: Often Happy, Sometimes Sad (12/15/10) This usually happy season may also bring up negative feelings for some students--perhaps because of family tensions or divisions, health problems or financial stress. It's important to take this into consideration as we talk about the holidays in the classroom. This classroom activity is aimed at raising students' sensitivity and providing some encouragement for those who may be facing hardship during this holiday season.

Exploring Leadership: Burma's AUNG SAN SUU KYI (11/17/10) (for younger students) Students consider leaders in their own lives, think about the qualities of leadership exhibited by Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (who has just been released) and write messages to Suu Kyi.

CYBERBULLYING: What is it? What can we do about it? (10/13/10) In the wake of the suicides of six gay teens who had been bullied or cyberbullied, this lesson helps high school students consider the issue of cyberbullying and how we can make cyberspace -- and all space -- safe for everyone, including LGBTQ students.

Controversy over the NYC Muslim Community Center & the 9/11 Experience (for younger students) (9/22/10) This lesson asks children to watch and discuss three public service announcements by the Council on American Islamic Relations featuring Muslims who were part of the 9/11 rescue effort; consider the news about the controversy over the Cordoba Project ("Ground Zero Mosque"), and discuss a Niemoller poem that relates to standing up for the rights of others.

ISLAM & ISLAMOPHOBIA (for younger students) (9/15/10) Students talk about their cultural heritage, watch an online video about American Muslims, discuss their understanding of Islam and Muslims, and share their own experiences of being treated unfairly.

ACTIVITIES TO CLOSE THE SCHOOL YEAR (6/23/10) (for all grades) Five activities use different methodologies to help you and your students reflect on the year and look ahead to next year.

GULF OIL SPILL: What happened, and who is responsible? (6/9/10) Students discuss the massive BP oil spill and view two short videos as they consider what happened in the gulf, their own consumption of oil, and who should be held responsible for the spill.

Morningside Center
"The interactive classroom lessons Marieke has written for our website have been some of the most popular we've ever posted. Her lively, highly engaging activities on issues of the day - including Cyber bullying, the Haiti earthquake, the Gulf oil spill, Islamophobia and the NYC Muslim community center - have been downloaded by thousands of teachers across the globe."."
LAURA MCCLURE, Editor of TeachableMoment.Org a project of Morningside Center

HAITI: Still in Crisis, but No Longer in the News (2/24/10) Marieke van Woerkom's activity helps younger students consider how Haitians are faring now that the news media has largely moved on.

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN HAITI? (1/19/10) Help your students learn about the earthquake and Haiti's history, and brainstorm about how they can help Haitians now and in the long run.

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King: THE POWER OF NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE (1/13/10) Through engaging activities, video, and small-group discussion, students consider the Montgomery Bus Boycott and how they might stand up against injustice in their own lives.

CONSIDERING UNEMPLOYMENT (12/16/09) Students consider our 10% unemployment rate from a numerical, social and emotional perspective, including through photos from the Great Depression.

THE HEALTHCARE DEBATE (12/9/09) Marieke van Woerkom uses an engaging game with M&Ms to help students see how insurance works and to touch off discussion on the current reform debate.

FROM BAGHDAD TO TUCSON, WITH LOVE: The Story of a Young Iraqi Refugee. (11/18/09) Students consider their views about Iraq and reflect on one young Iraqi refugee's view of the U.S.

TEACHING IN A TIME OF CRISIS (9/2/09) Educator Marieke van Woerkom provides timeless guidelines for opening up discussion on difficult issues--like the current economic recession--with your elementary and middle school students. Also included: links to resources on the economic crisis to inform the class discussion.

MESSAGE IN THE WAVES: Two Earth Day Lessons for Middle School Students After viewing a short video clip, students consider the effect all our waste has on the environment and develop a 'reduce, reuse, recyle' action plan.

THE GARBAGE PATCH: Two Earth Day Lessons for Elementary Students (4/8/09) With the help of a short video clip, students explore the 'life cycle' of a plastic bag and develop a 'reduce, reuse, recycle' action plan.