The influences, innovations, struggles, contributions, and successes of African Americans to our history and culture are an incredible opportunity for important discussions and activities in your classroom. Recognizing this history is important the entire school year but should be a focus and a celebration during Black History Month in February.
Here are my three tips for celebrating Black History Month with your students.
I schedule read-aloud time with my students daily. During the month of February, I read a picture book per day or an excerpt from a book about an influential Black American. I have so many favorite books in my classroom library, here are just a few of my favorite books to share with my students:
Mae Among the Stars
Henry’s Freedom Box
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
Young, Gifted, and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present
Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis
If you don’t have a copy of a book, check on YouTube for some great read alouds done for you:
There are so many great books to choose from and I make sure I have a great variety from my classroom library to share with my students. I also borrow as many as I am allowed from the school media center. I want my students to have access to great books about African Americans not just in February but throughout the entire year.
Sharing videos is a powerful way to add visuals and audio to bring important people and issues to life for your students.
If you are fortunate to have a subscription, Flocabulary has some of the best and most engaging videos for students. My favorite is “Harriet Tubman & Courage”. It makes me cry every time I watch it and we have great classroom discussions about Harriet Tubman.
Most schools also have access to BrainPop and BrainPop has several great videos too. My favorite is the one about “Bass Reeves”. I had never heard of him (and neither had my students) but he was one of the first U.S. Marshalls in Indian Territory during the Westward Expansion.
I also like to share YouTube videos when we discuss African American musicians. Students need to see and hear for themselves the talents of Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and more. It only takes a few minutes to watch a clip of so many talented artists.
One of my FAVORITE classroom activities for ANY subject is a research project. Why do I love a project? Let me explain:
Students CHOOSE their focus. This leads to higher participation and quality of work.
For our Black History Month research project, my students choose the influential person they want to research and learn more about.
Learning how to find information is so very important and the best way to learn is by actually doing it. Researching also includes evaluating information, determining key details, note-taking, paraphrasing, and time management.
I support my students by giving them a project presentation checklist. The checklist includes all of the elements necessary for a complete presentation.
Students learn how to organize and write information in their own words to communicate. I also like to include a presentation so that students can add images and graphic elements to enhance their writing. My students share their final presentation with the class. This gives students the opportunity to practice verbal communication skills and the opportunity to share what they’ve learned with their classmates.
My students create a Google Slides™ presentation with template slides provided for a complete presentation. Providing students with a presentation template and a rubric gives my upper elementary students the tools they need to create a complete presentation that includes writing and visuals.
Researching and creating a presentation has become my students’ favorite classroom project. Giving my students support with a presentation template and rubric allows them to be successful and take pride in their work. You can create your own template or save time and use the template I created for my own students and teachers just like you.
Teaching about Black History is important and should not be limited to a month. I do take the month to celebrate Black History and to recognize the important influences, talents, inventions, and innovations that African Americans have worked so hard for and shared with the world.
To help YOU recognize and celebrate Black History Month with your students, I created a FREE printable list of 50 Famous African Americans and Research Note-Taking Guide to help students research and learn more about an influential person in Black History.
I’d love to hear how you recognize and celebrate Black History Month in your classroom. Comment below with your favorite activity!