Project Description
Assessment and Rubrics
Learning Objectives
Project Components
Lesson Planning Suggestions
National Standards Correlations
Cross-curricular Extensions
Resources
Honor Roll Nomination Sheet

The project chronicles the history of African Americans from slavery and emancipation to the civil rights movement — including current important figures and their vital contributions to American culture on a large scale. Students will read histories about important individuals, study the civil rights movement and the concept of racism, as well as take part in activities where they can add their own thoughts and feelings about the importance of equality in a democracy. Students will also explore the history of Jazz music with Grammy-award winner Wynton Marsalis on a guided tour with sound.

This project is suitable for students from grades 3–8; however, several components include skills that target specific grade ranges. See Lesson Planning Suggestions for a prescribed plan on using this project with specific grades.


Several assessment components are embedded in this lesson plan. Skill labels highlight activities that address specific target skills. Targeted skills are listed in the Learning Objectives. Activity Assessment Rubrics assess student proficiency with the writing activities.

 


Scholastic's Online Activities are designed to support the teaching of standards-based skills. While participating in the "Culture & Change: Black History in America" project, students become proficient with several of these skills. Each skill below is linked to its point of use in the Teacher's Guide.

In the course of participating in this project, students will:

1. Use technology to locate information from online sources.
2. Formulate personal responses to readings.
3. Discuss content with peers as a way of generating and understanding information.
4. Respond to an online interactive story with a list of critical questions.
5. Write an expository essay/a narrative essay.
6. Discuss content with peers as a way of generating and understanding information.
7. Learn about key events in black history and the modern-day civil rights movement.
8. Write a dramatic version of an historical event.
9. Use Web technology to publish original writing online.
10. Perform a historical drama in front of an audience.
11. Use an interactive timeline to gain information about important cultural and historical figures.
12. Access online documents that inform the development of writing outlines.
13. Explore the origins of jazz music through words and sound.

 


The activities in the "Culture & Change: Black History in America" project can be used with grades 3–8; however, a biographical component has been designed that meets the specific reading needs of one of each of three grade ranges. The Top Ten African-American Inventors can be used with grades 3–4; The Melba Pattillo Story can be used with grades 5–6; and the Rosa Parks biography has been slated for grades 7–8.

The Top Ten African-American Inventors
(Grades 3–4)
Through this interactive activity, students learn about ten African Americans whose inventive contributions forged new frontiers in technology and consumer goods. Students also receive fun facts about each inventor, as well as an opportunity to publish online their comments about the inventors in a special "How Do You Feel?" section.

Integrating Central High: The Melba Pattillo Story
(Grades 5–6)
Students step back in time to the 1950s, a period during which segregation of whites and blacks–although a reality in some parts of the country–was becoming a source of national outrage and embarrassment. Kids relive the experiences of Melba Pattillo and eight other African-American teenagers through an interactive photo story that reenacts their historic, difficult year integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Rosa Parks: How I Fought For Civil Rights
(Grades 7–8)
Students learn through vivid text and images how the strength and determination of a single individual helped shape the course of a nation's history.

Trailblazers Time Line
By reading short biographies and linking to other Web sites, students learn about women and men who have broken the color barrier in a variety of professions. Included are such pioneers as Thurgood Marshall, Colin Powell, and Althea Gibson, as well as the first black doctor, millionaire, and senator.

Nominate a Trailblazer
The accomplishments of over 30 African Americans are catalogued in this compendium of trailblazers. Students read biographies on great African Americans from the early days of slavery to the present. Students also have the opportunity to cast a vote for the greatest trailblazer in their opinion. Students electronically submit their nominations, which are published in a Trailblazer Honor Roll.

The History of Jazz
Discover the origins of jazz music in America with Wynton Marsalis. Adapted from Jazz for Young People Curriculum by Jazz at Lincoln Center, this project allows students to learn about blues, improvisation, Dizzy Gillespie and more through reading and listening. To learn more about this curriculum, click here. Wynton Marsalis will join us for a live interview on February 26, 2002 from 1-2 p.m. E.T. Students can ask questions in advance.


All Grades
Project Introduction (2 Days)

Make a printout of each index page, (Ten Inventors, Melba Pattillo, and Rosa Parks ) and distribute them to students. Ask: "Are any of the people in the photographs familiar? Who are they? What do you know about them? Do any words or names seem familiar?" Give students an opportunity to react to the questions. Write responses on the chalkboard. Have students contribute to lists of accomplishments or identifying factors for each. Let students know that they will be studying about the history and accomplishments of African Americans. Then follow the lesson planning suggestions to the activities appropriate for your classroom.

Class Management: As you plan your age-appropriate lesson, you may wish to print out any reading assignment pages and staple them into a book for individual students. If you have several computers in your classroom, assign computer time to small groups of same-reading level students.

For Grades 3–4

For Grades 5–6

For Grades 7–8

Grades 3–4
The Top Ten African-American Inventors
Introduce Inventors (1–2 Days)

Ask students to share what they know about inventors and inventions. Write responses on the chalkboard. Refer students to the index page. Read some of the names of the inventors aloud with students. Remind students about what they may know or have learned about each. Then have them read through each inventor's page individually or in groups, depending on the amount of computers available.

Spotlight on an Inventor (2 Days)

Have students choose one of the inventors and do further online research visiting Scholastic Recommends and the time line for more in-depth information. Instruct students to create a profile on the inventor, similar to the one online, that also includes a list of ten new facts about the inventor.

How Would You Feel? (2–3 Days)

Ask students to imagine what life was like for African Americans at the time their chosen inventor lived. Allow students to respond in a whole-class discussion. Then challenge students to write a journal entry about one of the following questions. Students may wish to respond to an original idea. Meet with students to go over their response. Then have them revise and publish their final drafts online.

Think of the stories of the Top Ten Inventors and write about how you would feel. Here are some questions to think about:

  • Do you think it was hard for some of these African-American inventors to prove themselves and their inventions because of their skin color?
  • Why do you think that some of these inventors are not so well known today?
  • What kind of obstacles did these inventors face?
  • How might it feel to be the first African American to break into a scientific field?

Visit an assessment rubric for use with this activity.

Continue to the All Grades section.

Grades 5–6
Melba Pattillo
Introduce Integration (1–2 Days)

Ask students to share what they know about integration. Write responses on the chalkboard. Discuss with students some of the realities that preceded integration, such as segregation in public life and school. Then have students respond to the following question:

  • Why would someone risk his or her life in order to seek integration?


Have groups of students discuss the question and write down their responses. Then meet for a whole-class discussion about groups' responses. Elicit several of the best responses and write them on the chalkboard. Explain that they will study the story of a young girl named Melba Pattillo, who found herself at the center of the fight to integrate American schools. Tell students that they will revisit this question when they finish studying Melba's story.

Integrating Central High: The Melba Pattillo Story (2–3 Days)

Invite students to read through "Big Decisions" to "Endings and Beginnings" of the biography. Direct student groups to have a discussion about Melba's experience in the attempt to integrate Central High. Instruct them to write a list of questions about the events in the story. Encourage students to visit the links on each page. You may wish for them to share information on the links on particular subjects in groups or with the whole class. Share questions and responses in a whole-class discussion.

How Would You Feel? (3–4 Days)

Ask students to imagine what it was like to be Melba during her year at Central High. Invite students to write either an expository essay or a fictional account of what it would be like to be in Melba's situation. Students can use original ideas as writing topics or develop topics from the list of questions below. Direct students through the writing process. After students have edited their work they should go to Publish Your Writing in order to submit their work for online publication.

Think of Melba's story and write about how you would feel. Here are some questions to think about:

  • After what happened to Melba, if you were her, would you volunteer to go to Central High? Why or why not?
  • Recall your own first day of school this year. Compare it with Melba's. How are they similar and different?
  • Melba is risking her life for an idea — the right to an equal education. Would you be willing to take a similar risk for something that you believed in? If so, explain.
  • What do you think Melba feels as she walks into Central High as one of the first African-American students?
  • What would you do and how would you feel if you were Melba and you learned that the soldiers were leaving?
  • How might you have changed if you took part in Melba's experience? Include reasons for the changes.
  • How do you think Melba feels on graduation day at Central High? Do you think her feelings changed when school did not reopen in September?
  • How do you think Melba feels entering Central High School, 40 years later, with the president at her side?

Visit an assessment rubric for use with this activity.

Melba Pattillo Wrap-up (1–2 Days)
Students can spend this week finishing any incomplete activities. Ask students to respond to the question asked at the beginning of the activity. Have their ideas changed? Discuss any new reactions students may have. Invite your students to share their writing project with the class. They can also read "Reunion" and a transcript of interviews with Melba Pattillo Beals.

Continue to the All Grades Section.

Grades 7–8
Rosa Parks
Introduce Civil Rights (1–2 Days)

Ask students to share their knowledge of the civil rights movement. Write responses on the chalkboard. Discuss with students some of the realities that preceded the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s, such as segregation in public life and school. Then have students respond to the following question:

  • Are people ever justified in breaking the law? Explain.

Have students write about or discuss the question. Explain that they will read the story of a woman named Rosa Parks who found herself at the beginning of a protest movement that would forever change the laws of the United States of America. Assign the story of Rosa Parks.

Rosa Parks: How I Fought for Civil Rights (2–3 Days)

Invite students to read through "Sitting Down" to "Supreme Court Ruling" of Rosa's biography. Direct student groups to have a discussion about her experience in the movement to change the segregation laws. Have students create a chronological list of key events in Rosa's fight for equal rights. Encourage students to familiarize themselves with other key figures in the story, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Lead them to the Articles Archive and Scholastic Recommends for further information on important figures in this story. Then Instruct student groups to collaborate on writing a short play about Rosa Parks, other important figures in her story, and one event that surrounded the bus boycott
.

How Would You Feel? (3–4 Days)

Ask students to imagine what it was like to be Rosa during the bus boycott. Then challenge them to write a short expository essay or a fictional account of what it might have been like to be in Rosa's situation. Students can use original ideas as writing topics or develop topics from the list of questions below. Direct students through the writing process. After students have edited their work they should go to Publish Your Writing in order to submit their work for online publication.

Think of Rosa's story and write about how you would feel. Here are some questions to think about:

  • After everything that happened to Rosa, if you were her, would you have refused to give up your seat on the segregated bus? Why or why not?
  • Knowing how tired you can get after a long day at school, how do you think Rosa felt on the bus that day?
  • Rosa was risking her life for an idea — the right to equal access to public transportation. Would you be willing to take a similar risk for something that you believed in? If so, explain.
  • What would you have been most worried about on the first day of the bus boycott?
  • How might you have changed if you took part in Rosa's experience? Include reasons for the changes.
  • What do you think of using nonviolence to solve civil rights issues? Use specific examples of nonviolence and reasons for your responses.

Visit an assessment rubric for use with this activity.

Rosa Parks Wrap-up (2–3 Days)
Students can spend this week finishing any incomplete activities. Have students return to the question at the beginning of the lesson. Invite them to respond again to the question. Have their responses changed? Why or why not? Invite your students to share their writing project with the class. They can also read the transcript of an interview with Rosa Parks.
Allow time for student groups to rehearse their skits. They will have a chance to perform them later in the project.

Continue to the All Grades Section.

All Grades
Time Line (2–3 Days)
Encourage individuals or small groups of students to take turns using the interactive time line. After students have gotten used to the technology, have them read through the biographies. Have small groups of students do further research on two important contributors from the timeline that lived in different eras. Then have students compare and contrast the changes that had taken place for black Americans using the lives of the two figures as models.

Nominate a Trailblazer (2–3 Days)
Once students have become familiar with the Trailblazers from the time line, invite them to choose one figure they think is the most important in terms of breaking the color barrier. Inform students that they will be joining with classes nationwide to develop an Honor Roll of African Americans who were pioneers in fields that were previously open only to whites. Invite students to write about their nominee. The nomination should include the individual's name, his or her contribution as a pioneer, and why the student believes that this person deserves to be included in the Honor Roll. You may wish to direct students to the Skills Sheet to help them with formulating their writings. When your students have edited their work, they can submit their nomination at the Nominate Your Trailblazer page.

Instruct students to follow the directions about how to fill in, preview, and submit the nomination form. Inform students that all nominations will be reviewed before being published, and that their nomination will appear in the Honor Roll in a few days. Students can read already-posted Honor Roll nominations from schools around the country.

History of Jazz (1–2 Days)
Encourage individuals or small groups of students to take turns reading through the history of jazz and listening to the sound files. Have small groups of students do further research on one area of the history (The blues, New Orleans jazz, Louis Armstrong, improvisation, swing, Duke Ellington, bebop, Dizzy Gillespie, Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz). Then have students compare and contrast the areas and the impact that black Americans have made on the music.

Project Wrap-up (2 Days)
Instruct students to begin finishing-up activities including work from the grade-appropriate biography sections. Have students respond to the following questions in their journals.

  • What insights did you gain into the lives of those who were barrier-breaking pioneers?
  • In what fields or careers do African Americans still face barriers?

To spark inspiration or a class discussion, point out that there has never been an African-American president or vice president. Allow students to visit the other grade levels of the project to further inform them on responses to these questions. Invite students to perform their skits about Rosa Parks.

This project aids students in meeting national standards in several curriculum areas.

Reading Language Arts
International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

  • Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language for learning, persuasion, and exchange of information.
  • Students use a variety of technological and informational resources (libraries, databases, computer networks) to gather and communicate knowledge.
  • Students conduct research by gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing data from a variety of sources, and then communicate their discoveries to different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • Students use a variety of technological and informational resources (i.e. libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and communicate knowledge.
  • Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of multiple literacy communities.
  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language for learning, persuasion and exchange of information.

Social Studies
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)

  • Culture (Students study culture and cultural diversity.)
  • Time, Continuity, and Change (Students study the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.)
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions (Students study interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.)
  • Power, Authority, and Governance (Students study how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.)
  • Civic Ideas and Practices (Students study the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.)
  • Time, Continuity, and Change (Students study how the world has changed in order to gain perspective on the present and the future.)
  • Power, Authority, and Governance (Students study how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.)
  • Civic Ideals and Practices (Students study the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.)

Technology
Technology
Foundation Standards for Students:

  • use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity
  • use technology tools to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences
  • use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences
  • use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources
  • use technology tools to process data and report results
  • employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world




Art (Grades 3–4)
Invite students to draw or cut out pictures depicting how it would feel to be in a place where they aren't wanted. Remind students how Melba Pattillo felt being the first to do something very, very hard. Assess students on their expression of these feelings.

Poetry (Grades 3–5)
Compile a collection of poetry on the subject of personal freedom. Selections might include "I Am Freedom's Child" by Bill Martin, Jr. or "Dreams" by Langston Hughes. Read the poems aloud together, discuss the poet's point of view in each one, and have students draw illustrations to accompany the poetry. Then encourage students to write their own "freedom" poetry, using a variety of simple poetic forms such as haiku and couplets. Create an illustrated anthology of your class's favorites.

Drama (Grades 3–5)
Encourage students to transform Melba's story into a play or video script. Suggest that they dramatize the account by creating additional dialogue for the characters. Students may also create a narrator role to help tell the story. After students have had sufficient time rehearsing their play, they can perform it for the class.

History/Technology (Grades 6–8)
Have students create a time line of events in American history that relate to the struggle for civil rights. The time line can be hand drawn or created with computer software. Encourage students to include both well-known events and lesser-known incidents that are of interest and relevance. Ask students to project into the future 5, 15, 25, 50, and 100 years from now and add hypothetical events that they expect will further extend or curtail civil rights.

Science/Social Studies (Grades 4–8)
Challenge students to expand the Honor Roll. Invite students to research a pioneer from a different branch of the sciences, such as medicine, astronomy, or biology. Then have them create an in-class bulletin board. Students can post written essays, pictures, and drawings that explain about their individual trailblazers.



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