Teaching With Technology

Civil Rights


7th grade students will examine and discuss general feeling and thoughts over the topic of the Civil Rights Movement, creating an opinion on this subject, and then using information gained to compare and contrast with a social issue seen in their world today through the use of writing.

Method of Lesson

1. As a bell work activity, students will respond to the question: "Do you personally embrace all difference equally, or some more than others? Why?" They will respond using Poll Everywhere. This is a website where students can use a phone to text a response to a question or prompt. We all know 7th graders always have their phones on them, and if they don't own a cell phone, the website allows a phone to respond multiple times, so the student without a phone can always borrow his/her friend's to respond to the prompt when they are done. This is a great way to get thought and feeling out there on any subject. Because it is anonymous, students are less afraid to share what they are really thinking, rather than what their peer group thinks or what they think the teacher will most approve of them responding to as their own thoughts. It is also a great way to start conversation and get the class talking about different thoughts, such as the technicality of the questions and any exceptions they might feel there are.

2. After taking the poll and having a short discussion, I will show the story White Socks Only from the websiteStorylineonline.net. Storylineonline is a website that contains a large list of children's books that are read out loud by celebrities and other people as well. The book selection continues to grow, and includes pictures from the book as well. This is great for all ages, including 7th graders who love to be read to, especially with picture books. This is a great story to introduce the topic of the Civil Rights Movement for us to discuss as a class.

3. Next I will have students go online in their table groups to the Library of Congress's primary resource database to look at some different primary resources. This is a collection of primary sources collected by the Library of Congress that can be accessed online by the public. The Library provides a wide variety of history materials from wars to sports. The two sets of resources I will have the students look at are the Jim Crow and Segregation and The NAACP: a Century in the Fight for Freedom. I like to have students look at primary sources because they get get first hand experiences, can know what they are reading is true, and also gives them more of a primary reaction to the topic over an article that shares the same information. I also will supplement this with online videos and other sources that with help answer student's questions.

4. Once students are more familiar with the topic of the Civil Rights Movement through not only the primary resources but also discussion and the other resources, I will have students log in to their Edmodo accounts. Edmodo is a great classroom tool where students can engage in an online "classroom". the site is set up very much like Facebook, where students are organized into different class groups, and can be organized into small groups within that class group. Students can not only chat, discuss, and share, but can also take quizzes, answer polls, access online class materials, and submit homework. There is also an app center that is very helpful in multiple lesson types as well as to generally help the student with their class work. On Edmodo, I will have assigned students to different small groups. Each small will discuss different questions or topics that they have learned about thus far. Many of these questions will be aimed to get students to share their thoughts and feelings about the historical events they have learned about. Example questions include, "What do you think the world would be like if African Americans did not stand up for equality during this time in history?" and "Was American culture during the time of the Civil Rights Movement accepting of differences, both physically and culturally? Why or why not?" By having students share their thoughts in online conversation boards, they will feel more comfortable, even though they are not anonymous this time. This will also get thoughts out there and create serious discussion.

5. Lastly, students will be asked to get onto Google Docs and brainstorm their thoughts, as well as answer the writing prompt: "Compare and contrast the Civil Rights movement with a social issue you see in the world today. Is there still problems with equality? Is there a need to be more accepting in other social or cultural areas? Explain your reasoning." Students will work in their table groups to brainstorm ideas, create a rough draft, edit their work, and "publish" their writing with the teacher. This will be a form of assessment of not only their writing, but also their use of thought process with online tools of various types. Google docs is an awesome source for students to use because not only can students share their work with other online, but also multiple people can edit a document at once, making it a great way for groups to simultaneously be involved in a group effort and work together to accomplish common goal.