Monday, January 18, 2016

The Civil Rights Movement & Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - Rachel Small - Memorial School Teacher Librarian

For the last two weeks, students have been learning about the Civil Rights Movements and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Memorial Learning Commons.

We started with an activity. Students with brown eyes were able to play Duck, Duck, Goose while students with green, blue, and hazel eyes had to sit and watch. (Mrs. Dressler gave me this wonderful idea based off of Jane Elliott’s classroom experiment.) After part of the class played Duck, Duck, Goose for a few minutes, students were asked how they felt. Most students with green, blue, and hazel eyes shared that they felt sad, mad, and left out.

We then read Children of the Civil Rights Movement written by Paula Young Shelton and illustrated by Raul Colon. The book was based off of Paula’s childhood experience with the Civil Rights Movement. Paula was born in New York and moved, with her family, down to Atlanta, Georgia when she was very young so her parents could participate in the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Uncle Martin).

I created and shared the following timeline so students could visualize that this devastating part of our history took place a long time ago. It happened long before the students were born. We discussed how it’s important for us to learn our history so the terrible aspects are not repeated.

Students shared how they would have felt if they couldn’t go through this gate (perhaps leading to a playground) because of the color of their skin.

Illustration by Raul Colon

I also prompted students to turn and share how they would have felt if their family wouldn’t get served in a restaurant, even though there were many empty tables, because of the color of their skin. Paula was only four years old when this happened to her and her family. She threw a tantrum which she referred to as her first protest.

Illustration by Raul Colon
We discussed how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great citizen to the United States and dedicated his life to make it so all people were treated the same, regardless of their skin color. Everyone agreed that we can do more to contribute to our community. All students (and teachers) came up with some things they can do to become a better citizen. Older students added a hand emoji into Drawing Pad on their iPad and wrote something specific they can do to become a better citizen of Memorial School and/or Burlington on each finger. Younger students shared their ideas aloud. Some pledges students came up with were having a lemonade stand to donate proceeds to a local animal shelter or cancer research, donating clothes and toys to those in need, visiting and singing to people in nursing and assisted living homes, help older neighbors shovel snow, etc.

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