This post originally appeared on the blog Adrienne Teaches.
Here are two true statements:
1. Black history is important.
2. Black history isn’t in my curriculum.
Typically February, here in Virginia, is when we get the most snow. I am normally so flustered and behind in pacing that I’m cutting out and rearranging lessons just to try to fit things in. There was just no way I thought that I could add anything!
But… as I spend more time in the classroom, and raising my own children, I realize black history is not just “another thing” to try to squeeze in; it’s important and it needs to be a priority. If every teacher treated it the same way as I was, students would go through their entire educational career without seeing themselves reflected anywhere in history, but as slaves.
I realized this was a problem and I needed to solve it. I needed a way to incorporate black history into my classroom daily, without stopping me from covering anything in my curriculum. So I decided to make biography cards.
The idea is that I would make necklaces, each with a different black American picture on the front and a couple sentences about who they are on the back. Students come in, grab a new necklace for the day, read that card, and wear it all day. Anytime there is down time, students can share their American with neighbors. At specials, recess, cafeteria, or hallway, students could share their American with other teachers. It’s only 2-3 sentences per person, but that would be enough to expose my 3rd graders to a plethora of influential black Americans over the course of the month.
I knew that I needed a way to tie it all together and make it more concrete, so I created Daily Challenge Cards. At the end of every day, right before packing up, I would ask the question or display the sentence frame from the card and students would turn to their neighbor and discuss for 2-3 minutes. Then, I would give them 2-3 minutes to share out with the whole group. Done!
My goal is that students would learn the names, study the faces, and be exposed to the history of people that they wouldn’t otherwise have known. If at the end of the month the students can tell me a fact about 5 Americans they didn’t know prior, then I’d consider that a win. It’s all about exposure, letting them know that there are people out there who look like them (or different than them) who have contributed to our society in major ways. The underlying theme is that they have the ability to make a difference and influence our culture like the people on the cards.
Honestly, black history needs to be taught all year long and not just in February. I always make sure to provide examples and do read alouds of black leaders and characters throughout the year, but I wanted explicit time to focus on it.
I created this resource for my classroom and for my TpT store because I feel so strongly about black history instruction taking place in classrooms.
I would love to hear what you do to honor the impact black Americans have made on our country. Talk to you soon!
Adrienne Wiggins has been teaching 3rd grade in Virginia for the past 8 years. Her blog, Adrienne Teaches, gives a glimpse into the lessons, strategies, ideas, and interactive notebooks used in her classroom on a daily basis. Adrienne’s passion is creating resources for engaging, hands-on lessons. You can find her resources on her TpT store and visit her blog to see many of these resources in action. Connect with Adrienne on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.