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Lesson Plans

Classroom resources for Black History Month

February 9, 2022

 

Bayard Rustin, seen here in 1964 surrounded by young people before a demonstration, was a a civil rights and a gay rights activist and chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. Photo by Ed Ford/New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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Commemorate Black History Month in your classroom with lesson plans and resources that cover topics ranging from civil rights events to discussions about race in current events. These lessons are appropriate for history, ELA and social studies classrooms, and include resources for students in middle or high school.  

The March on Washington basic resources | Resources

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This resource page includes a quick guide to the March on Washington, an interactive timeline of the civil rights movement and a glossary of terms. Use these to get started on your classroom curriculum.

A history of discrimination and its consequences | Lesson Plan

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In this lesson for middle and high school students, students analyze what “The American Dream” means and what role racial discrimination may play in failing to attain that dream.

“I have a dream” speech as a visionary text | Lesson Plan

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Help your students connect to the rich imagery of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech by learning the history of the speech and then illustrating some of its most famous lines in this creative lesson plan.

“I have a dream” as a work of literature | Lesson Plan

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s delivered his most memorable speech, “I Have a Dream,” on August 28, 1963 before more than 200,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The Harlem Renaissance | Lesson Plan

Students will learn about the social, cultural and political circumstances which gave rise to the Harlem Renaissance. They will also learn about the influences that inspired the work of the Harlem Renaissance’s artists and musicians. Finally, students will be given several opportunities to create their own Harlem Renaissance inspired work.

Racial equality — How far have we come and how far do we still need to go? | Lesson Plan

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Martin Luther King., Jr. dreamed of an America where people could “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Use this lesson plan to start a discussion in your classroom about where we are on the path to realizing this dream.

History of Juneteenth and why it’s set to become a national holiday | Lesson Plan

Explore and discuss the history and context around the Juneteenth holiday in the United States. Topics explored will include the history of racial injustice in the U.S., the Civil War and the limitations of the Emancipation Proclamation. Additionally, students will be encouraged to explore the modern significance of Juneteenth and its long-term impact.

Explore art and movement inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s Migration series | Lesson Plan

Have students engage in a “close reading” of a timeless Jacob Lawrence painting through art-making, observation and analysis, and learn about the history of the Great Migration in the process.

Teaching About Selma | Lessons and Resources from Teaching for Change

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Try out these interactive lessons and recommended resources from Teaching for Change that invite students to step into the history and think critically and creatively about the continued fight for justice today.

Introduction to Selma | Lesson Plan

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Help introduce and engage students in the story of the March from Selma to Montgomery with clips from the film, “Selma”, courtesy of Paramount Pictures. In the main activity, students will be asked to view three short videos about the March and critically think about the audience, message, and stereotypes seen.

Discrimination — fair or unfair? | Lesson Plan

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Make issues of fairness, justice and discrimination personal to your students with this lesson plan, which includes an activity with Dr. Seuss! This lesson is designed for students for students who have difficulty with verbal or written expression.

Leadership at the March through music and speeches | Lesson Plan

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While Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech became the most famous of the March on Washington, he was by no means to only person to address the massive crowd assembled on the National Mall. Use this lesson plan to look at the other civil rights leaders and orators who spoke that day and how effectively they conveyed their messages.

The March on Washington and its impact | Lesson Plan

380887 08: Over two hundred thousand people gather in front of the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 1963, during a rally in support of civil rights legislation. (photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)

In this lesson plan, students compare King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to other famous texts in American history, including the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. This is a great addition to any speech, English or history class.

Analyzing “Stop and Frisk” through personal narratives and infographics | Lesson Plan

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This Common Core-aligned lesson helps students explore the New York City’s “stop, question and frisk” program through videos, graphics and a news article. An engaging introduction creates a foundation to help students understand infographics and their utility as a cross-curricular tool.

Remembering Nelson Mandela | Lesson Plan

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In this lesson plan, students will use text from Mandela’s autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” to connect with Mandela’s life and words. It also contains a 20-minute video from the PBS NewsHour to help students understand the magnitude of his life.

The Trials of Muhammad Ali | Discussion Guide

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Use this trailer and discussion guide to pique students’ interest in the story of Muhammad Ali, who was both an athlete and a defender of human rights. You can purchase the film on iTunes, but it is not recommended for class use due to language and some mature content unless it has been approved by you and your school to use in the classroom.

Student Reporting Labs “Race and Change” videos | Resource

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Use this dynamic resource to get students thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr. and whether his dream has been accomplished today. These 12 high school students are part of PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs and come from around the country.

Media literacy education

What is media literacy?

Media literacy is the ability to access, evaluate and create all types of media, including news media.

All of NewsHour Classroom's resources contain lessons in media literacy, including questions like who produced the piece and what do you know about them?

Start by evaluating this video introducing NewsHour Classroom here.

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