I started teaching about Black history at the beginning of January as part of a unit of study which focuses on the inequality of several groups of people. We started with Blacks in the South during segregation and will move to Japanese-Americans during WWII. The end of this unit will be about students with learning disabilities and their struggles for a fair education.
I used a book entitled, A Dream of Freedom by Diane Mcwhorter which is wonderful because each section highlights what happened from the years 1954-1968 in a way that made it easy for me to pick and choose which topics I wanted to teach and share with my students. I also read Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred Taylor to help facilitate conversations about life before the '50s. Students read The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, and worked on reading comprehension strategies in Literature Circle groups.
I also pulled in a lot of historical fiction picture books and nonfiction picture books that guided many conversations.
Each week, I focused on a different person or event that interests me and that I thought my students could appreciate. Even though I list only several people and events, through conversation and questioning from the students, we touched in on more than just what is shown in this project below.
Week 1: Martin Luther King, Jr. and his history and contribution to The Civil Rights Movement
Week 2: Rosa Parks and the Bus Boycott
Week 3: The Greensboro Four
Week 4: Ruby Bridges and The Little Rock Nine
This week, I put students in pairs to make a piece of the timeline that we hung up over our classroom library. Students had a chance to demonstrate their knowledge of what was learned. It was great to see them get excited when I told them which person or event in history they were to depict on the poster.
If you are interested in a Novel Study Unit for The Watsons go to Birmingham, click here.
How do you teach about Black history in your classroom?