Making Curriculum Pop

Social Studies 2/3 Day Lesson Plan on the Civil Rights Movement for a 7th/8th Grade Class

After listening to Pam Goble’s presentation on “Building Historical Background Using Film,” I was inspired to find a short, historical film that children would enjoy watching as well as learn from. I researched and watched several short films on YouTube and ITunes, which helped me to discover the Disney film, Ruby Bridges. I chose a short clip from the beginning of the movie and decided to incorporate Media Circles while teaching children about the Civil Rights Movement. The short clip from Ruby Bridges captures Ruby’s journey attending an all-White school in New Orleans. The scene displays the riots and protests that were outside Ruby’s new school, William Frantz Elementary School. Showing this film to middle school children will allow them to see how African Americans were treated and discriminated against during the 1950-60s in America.

Pam Goble’s Media Circles graphic organizers provide students with opportunities to write down their ideas, thoughts, and reactions while screening a short film. The Media Circles Graphic Organizers that I created were adapted and developed from the Media Circles hand-outs distributed during Pam Goble's presentation. Throughout the conference, there was a unified theme displayed in each presentation: the importance of introducing and integrating media and the moving image into classroom curriculum. I believe that having students watch a short clip from the film, Ruby Bridges, will deepen their knowledge and understanding of the movement to end segregation in America. The assigned roles in the Media Circles activity will motivate students to pay attention to the specific details, concepts, and issues addressed in the film. Media Circles will give students the opportunity to cooperatively and collaboratively express their reflections and reactions towards the film, Ruby Bridges.

My expectations and goals for this lesson plan are to help children understand how media impacts their learning of a specific topic, theme, and/or concept, appreciate how film influences their learning and understanding of history, observe the different perspectives and points of view expressed in the film, actively participate in the Media Circles activity by observing and taking note of specific details, ideas, issues presented in the film, view different types and forms of media (music, texts, short films, documentaries, movies), and lastly, reflect upon their learning of the Civil Rights Movement.

This learning experience is so unique because media is an integral part of this lesson plan. Students are given several opportunities to see how different forms of media portray the same historical event. As much as I want the children to learn about the Civil Rights Movement, my major goal is exposing children to different media sources and engaging them in a cooperative learning experience. I think middle school children will enjoy this multi-literacies approach because it appeals to every type of learner; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

The teacher will activate the students’ prior knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement by asking open-ended questions. Since the Civil Rights Movement was such a prolific historical event in American history, the students will look at images of riots and protests that occurred during the 1950-60s. The students will learn about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The teacher will use the Scholastic’s Teaching Resources, Rosa Parks: How I Fought for Civil Rights, to discuss the impact that Rosa Parks had on the Civil Rights Movement.

The students will also learn about the Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas and how it paved the way for integration in school. The students will watch a short clip from the Disney film, Ruby Bridges. The ten-minute clip will display the emotions and obstacles Ruby faced while being the first African American student to attend an all-White school in New Orleans, Louisiana. The teacher will use the cooperative learning strategy, Media Circles, to enhance the students’ viewings of the short clip from the film, Ruby Bridges.

The teacher will assign each student a role/job before viewing the clip. The teacher will review the Media Circles roles and ask the students if they need further clarification before viewing the film. After the students have watched the short clip, the teacher will ask all of the connectors, summarizers, economists, etymologists, fashion critics, sociologists, questioners, and recorders to meet and discuss their findings. The small groups will discuss their thoughts and reactions to the film and the teacher will ask one person from each group to summarize their group’s conversation. Next, the teacher will comment on how each group’s viewing of the short clip demonstrates the power of point of view and perspective.

Using the group evaluation sheets, the teacher will ask the students to assess their group members’ contributions to their conversation and discussion of the film. To further extend and reinforce the students’ learning of the Civil Rights Movement, students will listen to and watch a music video by Luisa Ferreras. The teacher will also show the students a short documentary featuring Ruby Bridges retelling her story, Through My Eyes. Lastly, the students’ will watch a short video created by a 5th grade student from Briar Vista Elementary School, which displays a child telling the story of Ruby Bridges.

All of these resources demonstrate how the teacher will integrate media to expand the students’ knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement. Lastly, students will watch and listen to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, “I Have a Dream.” The teacher will ask the students to reflect and comment on how the short films impacted their learning of the Civil Rights Movement.

Introductory Questions/Assessing Prior Knowledge:
a. What was the Civil Rights Movement? When and where did it occur?
b. What is segregation? Does segregation still exist in today’s society?
c. What started the Civil Rights Movement in America?
d. Who was one of the leader’s of the Civil Rights Movement?
e. What event started the Civil Rights Movement?

Developmental Questions
a. What perspectives were priviledged and/or mariginalized in the short clip from the movie, Ruby Bridges?
b. How did viewing the short clip from the movie expand your knowledge and understanding of the Civil Rights Movement?
c. What challenges and obstacles did Ruby face?
d. What customs, norms, values were expressed in the film?
e. What styles and fashions did you observe?
f. How was your group’s perception of the film different/similar to the other groups’ discussions?
g. Did you enjoy participating in the Media Circles activity?
h. Did you like the role you were assigned?
i. Did meeting with other recorders, summarizers, etc. help organize your thoughts, reflections, and/or change your ideas regarding the film?

Closing Questions/Reinforcing Main Ideas
a. Who was Ruby Bridges? How did she impact the integration of public schools?
b. Did viewing the short clip help you understand the fight for desegregation during the 1950-60s? Why or why not?
c. What impact did Ruby Bridges have on the Civil Rights Movement?
d. Are minorities still discriminated against in today’s society?
e. What can we do to end discrimination in our world?
f. Where can we find more information about the Civil Rights Movement?
g. Did you enjoy watching the short videos? How else can we incorporate media into our classroom to learn more about historical events?

Computer, LCD Screen/SmartBoard, YouTube Videos, Media Circles Handouts

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