Black History Month

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Black History Month, and with the news of the passing of Coretta Scott King on Monday, it is quite likely that the history of the modern civil rights movement in the United States will generate even more interest this year. Many teachers have discovered the power of the unitedstreaming Calendar tool to help them as they search for video clips that deal with important historical topics, and with that in mind, I want to remind all users of the special “commemorative” feature of the Calendar tool. As you view the February calendar in the upcoming month, you can scroll to the bottom of the list of events in the right frame to see a link for “Black History Month” resources. There are over 50 full videos listed here as well as several specific clips on related topics.

Here are some suggested lesson ideas that you might want to explore in the coming weeks:

Illustrated Word Wall:  For primary grades, show the video “Martin’s Big Words: The Story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” and discuss the importance of some of the “big words” that Dr. King stressed in his work—peace, love, freedom and dream. Next, set up a bulletin board display and let your students find pictures from magazines and newspapers that portray these important concepts.

Civil Rights Timeline:  Have your students prepare an illustrated timeline that includes the key events in the civil rights movement and encourage them to include their interpretations of selected historical photographs from the Image Library. If your students are familiar with TimeLiner software, they could develop digital projects and infuse video clips into their final presentations.

Decade Projects:  Assign students to prepare class presentations about key social, political, and cultural topics that characterized specific decades and that include images and video clips from the unitedstreaming libraries. Clips on the Underground Railroad, the Harlem Renaissance, the Negro Baseball League, and the Nation of Islam are just a few of the many topics from which your students can choose.

Event Analysis: If you teach middle school or high school students, you might have them do some in-depth research on one of the key events in the struggle to secure equal rights for all Americans and stage debates that will allow students to articulate opinions and defend positions on those events. A good place to start is the documentary titled “Did They Die in Vain?” This is the story of three college students who traveled to the South during the “Freedom Summer” of 1964 to support efforts to register African-Americans to vote. The murder of these three students was the subject of the film Mississippi Burning and the event provides a compelling study of the emotions and the hostilities that often characterized the civil rights movement.

Are there specific topics or activities that you have made an essential part of your lesson plans during Black History Month? Are there video clips or images on the unitedstreaming site that you have used successfully to explore these issues?



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One Comment;

  1. Lori Abrahams said:

    Our students really enjoyed the movie
    “American Heroes and Heroines: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” It was a great overview on Dr. King. The length was under 15 minutes, but the content covered just the right amount. Then the teachers had the students write their own “I have a dream” essays. If you didn’t already do this activity around King’s Birthday – it would still be appropriate for Black History month.

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