From Slavery to the White House: Celebrate Black History Month with Curriki

By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Source - Public domain (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008661312/)

Source – Public domain (www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008661312/)

Licence CC-BY-SA by Karen Fasimpaur

Black History Month, held each February in the United States, celebrates the contributions of African Americans to United States history. Curriki offers a treasure trove of vetted resources to help teachers and homeschoolers introduce their students to the central role African Americans have played in U.S. history – from slavery to the Oval Office.

History.com Resources

One of the best Black History Month resources in the Curriki Library is History.com. A couple of our favorites include:

  • Black History Milestones
    History.com’s discussion of Black History Milestones explores milestones and events that shaped African-American history, including the Civil War, the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, and the election of the first black president, Barack Obama.
  • Black History Facts
    Did you know that Madam CJ Walker was America’s first self-made woman to become a millionaire? Or that George Washington Carver was able to derive nearly 300 products from peanuts? Get the story of the creation of the NAACP, famous firsts in African American history, and more in History.com’s discussion of Black History Facts.
  • America at the End of the Civil War
    The America at the End of the Civil War unit by Nassau BOCES uses a PowerPoint presentation and music to reflect the culture of America after the Civil War, including the war’s aftermath and the Jim Crow Laws.

Black History on Video

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks (public domain)

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks has been called “the first lady of civil rights” because she refused to give up her seat in the colored section of a bus to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Her courageous act of defiance and the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the Civil Rights Movement.

Curriki’s Rosa Parks Introductory Lesson for kids in grades 4-6 introduces Rosa Parks using a Language Arts lesson plan.

In an activity from Read Write Think, students make believe that the year is 1955 and they just heard about Parks’ arrest, and write newspaper editorials about segregation.

Famous African Americans on Video

Curriki’s Black History Month collection includes a number of opportunities to introduce prominent African Americans through video:

  • Rosa Parks
    History.com offers videos about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott and more.
  • Frederick Douglass
    Frederick Douglass was an African American slave who became a social reformer and abolitionist. This cartoon biography makes learning his story fun.
  • George Washington Carver
    Journey into to the life of George Washington Carver, who was born into slavery but overcame his surroundings to use plant biology and his ideas to help the world.
  • Harriett Tubman
    This Harriet Tubman mini-biography teaches about the Underground Railroad and the Civil War.
  • Sojourner Truth
    Sojourner Truth was an escaped slave who became an abolitionist and women’s rights activist.

More Black History Month VideosObama poster

  • The Civil Rights Movement
    The Civil Rights Movement helped change the United States of America, and Brown vs. Board of Education stopped segregation in schools. Welcome to FresBerg’s educational videos deliver watchable lessons.
  • 14th Amendment
    The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ordered states to stop discriminating against blacks. This educational video tells the story.

Other Resources

  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
    The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library system, is a national research library devoted to collecting, preserving and providing access to resources documenting the history and experiences of peoples of African descent throughout the world. The website features online access to digitized images, texts, manuscripts, and archival finding aids – great for students researching any topics having to do with African-American history.
  • National Geographic
    Celebrate the achievements of African Americans past and present during Black History Month. This collection of resources from National Geographic includes profiles of prominent figures such as President Barack Obama and lesser-known war heroine Mary Seacole. Try an interactive exercise to witness the challenges slaves faced attempting to escape North. Explore hands-on activities, maps, and more that will give students of all backgrounds new perspectives on this important part of American culture.

See all of Curriki’s Black History Month resources.


KimJonesimageKim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Increasing Student Engagement in the History Classroom

 

By Curriki Guest Blogger Amy Scheuer

Amy Scheuer, Social Studies Content Curator, Curriki

Amy Scheuer, Social Studies Content Curator, Curriki

Teachers are often faced with the challenge of making teaching and learning history more engaging. Here are some techniques to increase engagement in the history classroom, paired with resource suggestions from a newly curated American History collection on Curriki that is comprised of materials spanning from colonial America to the modern era!

1. Treat history as the opportunity to tell a greater story and convey a narrative, rather than the relaying of disjointed names, dates, and events. The use of media can be a great mechanism for accomplishing this goal, and the CrashCourse video collection provides an entertaining and educational method of exploring major topics in history. The videos sequentially focus on issues, events, or developments, considering causes, effects, and key players in relation to the greater American History narrative.

2. Allow students to become a part of the historical narrative by carrying out simulations, role-playing activities, and enacting historically accurate discussions or debates. The EDSITEment collection includes extremely detailed American History lessons, ranging from the colonial period to modern America.   Every lesson has a unique makeup, possibly including activities, primary source analysis, simulations, and discussion/debate topics, providing endless opportunities for students to jump into an historical time period for in depth exploration.

3. Utilize art and imagery to appeal to visual learners in your classroom and provide students with a snapshot of the past. The National Archives provides an excellent place for teachers to search for primary sources. Teachers can access thousands of images, photos, speeches, letters, and other primary sources, and can then build interactive activities while learning how to best utilize historical documents in the classroom!

4. Incorporate music to help students understand the cultural context of a certain time period. Throughout history, many musicians have composed songs that reflect conflicts, changing attitudes, or cultural developments around the world, and students can engage in historical analysis by listening to these songs and interpreting the lyrics. This comprehensive list of songs at Curriki can be used as a great guide for incorporating music into the classroom.

5. Differentiate instruction between teacher-facing, student-facing, group, and individual activities. The Digital History collection is a gold mine for teachers, as it allows one to search by era, topic, resource, or reference, with the ability to make use of the full textbook, online exhibitions, learning modules, and primary sources. Digital History is a great tool to aid teachers in planning creative lessons such as jigsaws, problem-based learning projects, webquests, visual or audio activities, or engaging lectures.

6. Leave ample time in the curriculum to delve into modern topics, allowing students to contemplate the varying and continually changing perspectives surrounding political, economic, religious, and cultural trends and occurrences of the era. This content is often particularly relevant and interesting to students, and can be a great opportunity for oral history or experiential projects, as students are able to ask parents, grandparents, and community members about their experiences living through a particular event or time period. The United States History: 1945 – Present curriculum guide provides a great outline of important topics of the last half-century in American History, and is segmented into units by decade, each with sample lessons.

For more lessons and supplemental materials be sure to visit Curriki and explore an entire collection of 11 American History units here!

Amy is a graduate of Vanderbilt’s Peabody School of Education and taught History and Psychology at the high school level before joining up with Curriki to promote educational access at the global level.