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Black History Yesterday, Today, And Tomorrow

February 5, 2016 / by Catherine Guimaraes

As many of you know, February is Black History Month in the United States, which can be a time to celebrate, reflect on, and recognize the contributions of the black community.

That's not to say that learning related to our black community is something that should be isolated to one month a year, but this month designates a time to look back, examine the current moment, and think ahead.

It's been my experience that this month can serve as a time to pause and reflect on our history and our curriculum -- particularly English Language Arts -- and dedicate more time to ensuring our teaching is culturally inclusive and provides students with diverse historical accounts. It may also be a time to look at current events and learn about black leaders who are helping to direct our society toward change, such as DeRay Mckesson and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

When I taught, as a way to begin our planning for this month, each community member would bring resources to the table for us to examine and determine what content and learning experiences could best serve our students. In this spirit, we're connecting with our larger Tch Community and providing you with some tools and resources to review and adapt, and ultimately determine if they will benefit the teachings you’re hoping to embed in your school during this month and beyond.

  • Eyes on the Prize is a PBS television series that includes contemporary interviews and historical footage and covers all of the major events of the civil rights movement from 1954-1985. The website includes a collection of multi-dimensional learning activities for elementary, middle, and high school students to engage in active discourse.
  • PBS NewHour Extra has learning activities for grades 7-12 that focus on the civil rights movement as well as more recent events such as the Trayvon Martin case and stop-and-frisk police tactics.
  • The Smithsonian provides resources that can be used across subjects, resources that cover a variety of media such as photography, art, and audio recordings.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells the story of a woman whose cells were -- and continue to be -- used for medical research, unbeknownst to her or her family. You can find a teaching guide here.
  • 28 Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball, a list from librarian Scott Woods, provides culturally relevant books for elementary school guided reading or classroom libraries, this is a good starting point. (Thanks to Jennifer Tiggs, from Detroit, MI, for this suggestion.)
  • EduColor seeks to elevate the voices of public school advocates of color on educational equity and justice. They are an inclusive cooperative of informed, inspired and motivated educators, parents, students, writers, and activists who promote and embrace the centrality of substantive intersectional diversity.
  • Teaching Social History is a collection of learning experiences that examine history beyond a sequence of events, but as an intertwined web that helps students see the power and impact of social movements.

Please feel free to share additional resources, readings, and curricula to share with our Teaching Channel community.

Topics: Social Studies, History, Resources, Holidays

Catherine Guimaraes

Written by Catherine Guimaraes

Catherine has been with Teaching Channel since 2015 supporting districts using Teaching Channel Plus, a video-enabled platform, and in adopting personalized professional learning. Prior to her work with Teaching Channel, she led a team in designing online learning courses, served as an assistant principal at Girls Prep Middle School, led educators across New York City in the transition to the Common Core, and taught in middle schools in Boston and Washington, D.C. . She holds a Master of Social Work and Master of Public Policy. Catherine believes educators are powerful influencers and leaders in making a better universe.

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