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Teacher Lesson Return to "There’s More to Black History Than Rosa Parks, MLK, and Malcolm X"
There’s More to Black History Than Rosa Parks, MLK, and Malcolm X
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
Not the Whole Story

Story Summary: The writer is upset with the superficial way that Black History Month is traditionally taught, so she takes it upon herself to learn about lesser-known historical figures and facts. Her new knowledge of African-American history fuels her passion for the subject and her wish to continue studying it in college.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students will respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives (CCLS SL.1).
• Students will read and comprehend literary nonfiction proficiently (CCLS R.10).
• Students will write routinely over extended and shorter time frames for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences (CCLS W.10).

Before Reading the Story (10 min)
This opening activity will activate background knowledge to boost reading comprehension and set the emotional tone for the story.

1. Welcome students to the group. Tell them that before reading a story, you are going to do an activity that gets you up and moving, and introduces you to some of your peers’ opinions on topics that will be brought up in the story.

2. Introduce the Concentric Circles activity procedure. Tell the class:
• "We will form two standing circles, one inside the other.”
• "Each person will face a partner.”
• "I will read questions aloud and everyone will have a chance to respond while their partner listens.”

3. Divide the class into two. One way to do this is to have students count off 1-2. (If you don’t have two equal groups, you can join one.)

4. Clear a space in the middle of the room and have the 1s stand and form a circle facing outward.

5. Have the 2s stand and form a second circle around the first one, facing inward.

6. Explain to the class that the person they’re facing will be their first partner.

7. Tell them:
• "Partners will take turns responding to a question that I ask.”
• "When one person speaks, the other listens.”
• "Each person should speak for about one minute. Make sure both of you get a chance to talk.”
• "When time is up, I will ask one circle to rotate and everyone will have a new partner.”

8. Pose this question to the class:
• "Why do you think there is such a thing as ‘Black History Month?"

9. After two minutes are up (you might want to use a timer to keep track), ask the inside circle to move two people to the right while the outside circle stands still. There should be new pairs formed.

10. Repeat the process using these other questions:
• "Who or what do you typically learn about during Black History Month?"
• "In general, do you think your teachers do a good job of covering this topic? Why or why not?"
• "What about Black History would you like to learn more about?"

11. Have everyone return to their seats.

12. Time permitting, lead a discussion by asking students to describe some of the good points that were made during their conversations. They can also share times they agreed or disagreed with their partner, new ideas that their partner gave them, or questions they still have about the topic.

13. Thank students for sharing.

During Reading (20 min)
By practicing active reading strategies while reading aloud and discussing as a group, students build comprehension and support fluency.

1. Introduce the story (see the summary above).

2. Share the expectations for a group read-aloud: volunteers take turns reading aloud as much or as little as they would like. As the leader, you may stop periodically to discuss or check in on active reading by asking students to share their responses to the story.

3. Tell students they will practice an active reading strategy called reading for a purpose. This will help them read for a purpose and be prepared to use the text in later activities.

4. Reading for a purpose directions: Ask students to read for moments in the text when the writer states something they agree or disagree with. When they agree with something in the text, they should write a “+” in the margin. When they disagree, they should write a “-” in the margin.

5. While sitting in a circle, read the story aloud together. Stop to discuss periodically, supporting peer-to-peer talk and non-judgmental listening. To do this, ask for volunteers to share what they wrote a “+” or “-” next to and why. Alternately, you can pose an open question such as “What stands out to you in this section and why?”

6. When you finish the story, ask the group to discuss their reactions to the story. They can turn and talk to a neighbor before you discuss as a whole group.

After Reading the Story (15 min)
During this post-reading activity, students will make connections, build understanding, and rehearse positive behaviors.

1. Introduce the Silent Conversation activity by explaining to the group that they will do an activity where they learn more about each other and find ways to connect.

2. Review the directions with the group. Tell them:
• "Everyone will sit with a partner.”
• "You will write independently in response to a prompt. Try to end with a question.”
• "Then you will exchange papers and respond to your partner's writing by answering their questions, sharing your own ideas, and by posing a new question.”
• "You will pass notes back and forth to build a silent, written conversation with your partner.”

3. Have group members find a partner and sit beside each other.

4. Pass out journals or notebook paper and pencils.

5. Read the prompt aloud (or write it where students can see):
• The writer says, “If schools teach predominately white history and black history is mostly about slavery and black oppression, black children will grow up thinking their race has nothing good to offer when that isn’t true at all.”
• What do you think of this idea? Do you agree that it’s important to learn about other lesser-known parts of black history? Why or why not?
• What would you recommend your teachers do to fix this situation?

6. Have everyone quietly write for one or two minutes. Then, ask partners to pass their notes and respond to each other’s writing. Move around the room to quietly check-in with group members and offer support.

7. Continue this process by directing partners to finish writing and pass their notes about every two minutes. Remind them to include questions that engage their partner and contribute to the conversation.

8. After about 10 minutes of silent conversation, ask group members to finish their last thoughts on paper. Then ask them to share with the whole group some of the highlights from their silent conversation. They can share points of agreement or disagreement, new ideas, or questions.

9. Thank students for being thoughtful members of the group and working to make connections to the writer’s story, reflect on their own lives, and share with one another.
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