For each of Charity Jones’ 22 third grade students at Fisher Elementary School there was history to learn during Black History Month. As part of a February project, Jones had each of the students create a small visual book highlighting the historical contributions of a different figure, from Harriet Tubman to Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson to Ruby Bridges.
“I was excited for the kids to learn about these historical figures because we don’t often get to fit an extensive number of social studies into our days and I think history is an impactful topic,” Jones says. “So, to integrate reading, writing and history was the perfect storm.”
The unit started with Jones showing a two-minute clip on each of the 22 people, offering background on their contributions. The students all randomly selected a name. Research came in two ways. The school librarian pulled pertinent books and since each student had access to a laptop, they used the research database Ducksters to find additional facts on their person as they continued to learn about their worldwide contributions.
To make the most of their time, Jones created a research outline with questions for them to write bullet point answers in. She says they discussed the importance of pulling key words from research instead of entire sections to avoid plagiarism and how to find the main idea within research. “They loved being set loose to discover and become experts on their people,” Jones says. “It was fun to watch them have ownership of their learning.”
The students created a lapbook visual, akin to a trifold presentation, including images and facts about their historical figure.
Jones says the students all connected with different people for different reasons, but Bridges was a key figure because she was so young when she broke the barriers of segregation at her public school. “I was also excited for them to learn that these people either grew up in poverty or grew up in a very difficult time, yet they were brave and courageous and changed our world,” she says. “I was excited for these students to see that they too can be world changers.”