- Why do we teach Black History?
- How does Black history relate to promoting a Growth Mindset?
During this time of the school year, history and English Language Arts classrooms are deep into their Black History curriculum. On the flip side, I’ve spoken to several teachers over the years that do not have a curriculum and desperately search for ways to bring Black History into their lessons. Sharing and promoting Black History is so important for our students. Learning about famous African Americans brings a strong cultural tie for not only our African American students but for all students.
Years ago, I had an eye-opening conversation with an elementary school teacher who told me, “I don’t need any black history stuff, thanks. I don’t have any African American students.” I was like, “what?” I didn’t get on my soapbox, but instead, sent her some resources and told her to try them out and have good discussions. The result, she said, “it was the best to see so much motivation to learn about such exciting people!” I like to call this, “a light bulb moment.”
What is Black History?
Ask the average person, “when did black history start?” For African Americans, it started with slavery. I am not embarrassed to reveal this, I didn’t know this. Black History Month is focused on American history, therefore it starts with one of the darkest eras in US history.
Historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans promoted the idea of Black History Month. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history. (History.com, 2010)
How does Black history relate to promoting a Growth Mindset?
Rosa Parks is a pivotal woman in American history. We learn about Black History because had it not been for Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, or the civil rights movement, March on Washington, we would be leading completely different lives today. Not only do our students become more familiar with the individuals who changed the course of history, but it also serves as a learning experience for teachers as well. While doing research on notable figures, I’ve learned so much!
Promoting a Growth Mindset in education is a popular trend today and Black History Month perfectly fits perfectly into the philosophy. The notable figures faced serious obstacles involving racism and discrimination and struggled so much to be successful. During February, we celebrate overcoming adversity. Their immeasurable strength stayed true to their beliefs, despite the resistance they faced from the rest of the world.
Biography Studies Tie It All In
I am hooked on the body biography strategy. I talk about it so much, I know, but seriously, this is truly an easy way to get students to collaborate, communicate, create, and apply critical thinking skills. Oh, and the bonus is a cool bulletin board display as the result! I adapted the body biography concept to align with informational texts, biography research, nonfiction, and history. Here are a few Black American Heroes to get you started.
The body biography study is a collaborative research activity. I recommend small groups or pairs. The posters are truly unique, have high-quality vector graphics, and are the most inclusive group project for bringing together a growth mindset and a biography study.
The Martin Luther King, Jr., Body Biography Project is filled with all you need to teach and promote the civil rights leader, Nobel Prize recipient, activist, and world-renowned orator. Learn all there is to know about one of the most influential civil rights leaders in the world.
Rosa Parks was a remarkable civil rights activist. She was best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The United States Congress has called her “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.”
Frederick Douglass. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement. He then gained fame for his speeches and antislavery writings.
For an Author Study, I recommend Maya Angelou.
Maya Angelou published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years! She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees.
The Black History Body Biography Project is filled with all you need to teach and promote the civil rights leaders, Nobel Prize recipients, activists, former president, authors, poets, suffragists, abolitionists, orators, athletes, and true heroes for all generations.
★ All of the body biographies feature original realistic images all in line art for your students to add color and design. The posters are each 32 inches high by 10 inches wide. It requires 4 pages.
★ Come with a rubric.
★ Promote group work skills with the reflection questions.
★ All the subjects come with an answer key!
★ Student handouts and planning sheets explain each part of the body biography project.
★ The teacher set up directions, background, tips, and CCSS are easy to implement.
Langston Hughes, Poetry, “Dreams,” Collaborative Poster, and Writing Activity$4.99
Women’s History Month, Maya Angelou Biography and Poem, “Still I Rise”$5.25
Martin Luther King Jr, Writing Activity, Timeline, Sketch Notes, Teacher Lesson$5.99
Martin Luther King Jr, “I Have a Dream” Collaborative Poster, Writing Activity$5.99
Martin Luther King Jr, Collaborative Poster, Writing Activity$5.89
Hi, I just want to let you know I love your products and have used many of them. I love the body biographies and so do my students! I just wanted to address something you said in the blog about Black history. I am an African American and I teach fifth grade. You are right when you say it is American history And I tell my students this all the time. I teach Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, Women’s, Asian Pacific American months, etc. throughout the year with more of a focus during their designated months.
I’m not sure if you were talking about what the the average American thinks or if this is your thought:
“For African Americans, it started with slavery. I am not embarrassed to reveal this, I didn’t know this. Black History Month is focused on American history, therefore it starts with one of the darkest eras in US history.”
Unfortunately, this is how many educators view the start of black history and how they teach it, through no fault of their own, it’s how we all learned. We need to do better by our students and go back to before Africans were taken and enslaved. Students need to understand the lives these people were taken from and how they ended up being enslaved. Although it is American History we’re addressing, we need to go back to the beginning.
I always start with this quote:
People say that slaves were taken from Africa. This is not true: People were taken from Africa, among them healers and priests, and were made into slaves- Abdullah Ibrahim
I know that many teachers don’t know where to start or as you said they don’t have any black students and don’t think it’s necessary, so thank you for your products!
I agree. I took the black history month explanation as to why we have black history month here in the USA. I was basing it on black American history, which according to our government, starts with slavery. I do agree with you, though, of course. Thank you so much for commenting and letting me know so graciously.