October 29th, 2004
The Sidney Poitier High School
Lesson Overview

Sidney Poitier is one of our most famous artists. He nurtured his career by refusing roles that detracted from his human dignity, opting instead for roles that demonstrated his intelligence, wit, and talent. His depictions of blacks on stage, in film, and on television was and remains revolutionary because they show that black men can be proud and powerful characters without subjecting themselves to humiliation. In addition to his acting, he established himself as a writer and director, a thinker and critic, a humanitarian and diplomat.

The superintendent of your school district, in consultation with the student and parent body and the faculty, has decided on a new name for your high school. Starting next September, it will be called “The Sidney Poitier School.” As part of the celebration, your class has been selected to plan the hour-long dedication ceremony, which Mr. Poitier and his family will attend. To prepare for the ceremony, students will use a selection of reading strategies – Choral Reading, Guided Reading and Reader’s Theater – to research the information before putting together their presentations.

Grade Level:
6th to 12th grade

Time Allotment:
One hour for viewing the AMERICAN MASTERS episode of “Sidney Poitier: One Bright Light”
Three to five sessions for researching and preparing presentations
One hour for the “dedication ceremony” of the newly named Sidney Poitier School

Subject Matter:

American History, Music, Theater, Civil Rights, Social Activism

Learning Objectives:
Students will be able to:

  • Learn about how theater affected the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Understand the social, cultural, and political climate in America from the 1940s to the present.
  • Research the impact of racism in the second half of the 20th century.
  • Work together in small groups.
  • Use writing for different purposes.
  • Use Internet sources and primary source material.
  • Present history using multimedia software.
  • Perform a dramatic reading.


MCREL LANGUAGE ARTS, Level 4, Standard 5

Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process

Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning

MCREL LANGUAGE ARTS, Level 4, Standard 8
Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

MCREL LANGUAGE ARTS, Level 4, Standard 9
Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

MCREL LANGUAGE ARTS, Level 4, Standard 2
Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs.

Contributes to the overall effort of a group

  • Carolyn Hanshaw Billups

    I, have always been in love with Mr. Poitiert. He is a special person . He is smart. kind, intelligent and aware of
    all the injustices in our society. I have always said ,we need more Black men like Mr. Poitier. His integrity is
    so profound. I, have read all of his books. His persona, his acting is stellar . I regret ,not being, able toever be
    in his presence. He,is more than awe. He,is the real thing . Mr. Poitier, I love you.

    Carolyn Hanshaw Billups

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