As we embark on 2017, I’m reflecting on the notion that our role as educators (whether we are formal or informal teachers) to build reasoning and analytical skills, illuminate historical experiences, and strengthen empathy across perspectives feels more crucial than ever. With the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and Black History Month around the corner, as well as rising incidents of bullying and discrimination, it’s vital to have tools at our ready to equip students. Ideally, these can build social-emotional learning, while also enhancing core academic skills. These are a few of the reasons I’ve been honored to work on We Stood Up and am delighted to share this rich – and timely – resource. If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll consider sharing this with anyone you know who works with children and youth.
As the website explains, We Stood Up is a free download civil rights education audio anthology. Developed as part of Lincoln Financial Group’s Lincoln’s Legacy initiative in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the anthology, lesson plans, Educator’s Guide, oral history videos, song lyrics, instrumental beds, and other resources are intended purely for enhancing student understanding and come with zero sponsor advertising or commercial content. Watch this 2-minute video trailer to get a quick sense of the material.
As the linked websites indicate, much of the material was developed for grades 3-8. However, as we have shared it with a growing community of high school teachers and leaders, we realize there is much interest for grades 9-12, too. You and your colleagues can use or adapt the material for classroom work, school-wide assemblies or presentations, clubs, and special projects. Our Educator’s Guide (linked here) includes an easy-to-print overview with some ideas for various formats and conversation starters; these can be shared at an upcoming staff or team meeting to develop meaningful activities to honor Martin Luther King Day or Black History Month. For older students, you might consider these activities:
- Warm-up: Play a track and ask students to write a question they have. Revisit the question later in the lesson. If doing this more than once, switch between sharing a poem, song or personal history to spur questions.
- Double Entry Notebook: Ask students to write a quote from a track in the left column and a reaction to the quote in the right column.
- Writing prompts: What does it mean to have freedom? (Track 6); When is it okay to get arrested? (Track 17); How did the March on Washington affect people who participated? (Tracks 23, 24, 26, and 27). How does the U.S. struggle for civil rights compare to cases in any other countries you have studied? What are you willing to take a stand for?
- Creative Prompt: lay a track related to the lesson and ask students to create a visual representation based on what they learned.
- Ask students to incorporate one or more tracks into a digital presentation/podcast about one of these topics: Meaning and Value of Freedom, Milestones of the Civil Rights Movement, Continuing the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement
Most importantly, We Stood Up is a springboard for reflection and creativity. As we tell teachers: Use it as you wish (yes, all copyright protections have been lifted). Share with colleagues across departments, grades and time zones. Meet your students where they are. Make a difference. Make history. And if you know anyone who uses it anytime this school year, we’d love to hear from them. Please share any experiences or stories with me, as we’d love to make a compilation of creative initiatives in civil rights education.
Thanks for all you do, and here’s to brilliance and courage in 2017…