15 April 2009

Civil Rights unit success

The are some random photos from our 8-week long Civil Rights unit. Really, it was 10-1/2-weeks including making the books and the presentation for the parents. The unit began on Dr. King's birthday (15 Jan.), but we started learning about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Thereafter, we continued learning about some of the significant people and events of the US Civil Rights Movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sit-ins, Elizabeth Peratrovich, Ruby Bridges, and Freedom Riders. My hope for next year is to include more of the courageous and significant movements within (concerning Alaska Natives, from Birmingham to Selma, March on Washington, the summer of 1964, civil rights today). I need to learn more myself. I didn't want to stop, but we have to cover other things before the end of the year. Next year, hopefully things will go smoother & we can fit more in. We covered a lot of ground, given that I had 30 minutes a day, four days a week with them.

This is 1st and 2nd grade, kids ages 7-9, so we didn't get into great detail. The things they've remembered, the shock at some of the filmage and photos they saw, how they act towards each other, and the pictures they drew all tell me that they recognize racism and discrimination as wrong. I didn't spare them from seeing the horrid footage of children being sprayed with water hoses, people being beaten, racist police officers, or Dr. King's assassination (I actually cried when I saw that part again). I showed photos & told stories about bus bombings and sit-in humiliation. I'm not in favor of desensitizing kids with things like horror flicks, but I felt it was important to expose them to what can come of true hatred so that they can make the conscious choice to stop it and learn that tolerance is the way to go. That's my hope anyway. As we progressed, I realized that this unit fit perfectly with behavior management, with emphasis on equality, fairness, and non-violence. All the more reason to extend it next year. ^_^

One more thing, I realize I'm getting a little windy here.

Bookmaking: Throughout the unit they drew pictures to help them remember what they learned. I tried to expose them to different art media for this as well. As a final project they combined these and made a book from scratch. This consisted of making the covers with cardboard & gluing tissue paper down, then duct taping the spines. They hammered holes into the paper & sewed the pages with embroidery thread, and glued those pages into the book. In addition to their pictures, I typed summaries about the people or event we studied for their families to read & they glued them on the back of the corresponding pictures. (Next year, this will most likely be personal reflections.) They also drew pictures we used to help them remember their vocabulary: non-violence, boycott, protest, courage, racism, segregation, integration, assassination, sit-ins, etc. Slap on a title page & vuyalla. The finally consisted of making cookies and assigning lines that the students would say during our "Freedom Tea." 15 parents and our principal came to hear some information about the Civil Rights Movement, drink coffee and tea, and look at the students books. All but one student, out of 30, did their part and contributed to the "Freedom Tea." It was a great success!

...... "That's all folks!"

(Also, the girl in the pink shirt did the Freedom Riders, Martin, Ruby, and sit-ins drawings. I don't think I can write her name here, but I want her to have some sort of credit. The other artists aren't pictured.)