February is Black History Month, a time to commemorate the efforts of African Americans who have crossed boundaries, broken down barriers, and contributed to their fields. It seems appropriate that the achievements of African Americans receive attention annually during this month, after being poorly recognized for so long. With the assistance of the Web, you too can incorporate activities that reflect the positive impact black Americans have had on our nation's history. Included: Internet-based activities to celebrate Black History Month.
If you are seeking to integrate black history into your February plans, one of these Web-based activities will be the perfect complement to your curriculum!
Batter up! Focus on the progress of integration in baseball, and salute heroes of the Negro League with Infoplease.com's Negro League Baseball: Gone but Not Forgotten. Here, you will find an excellent historical summary and biographies of many figures who helped break the racial barrier in baseball. This is only one of the resources in the site's feature for Black History Month. With the introduction to the Negro League found here, your students may choose a player they should already know about and design a baseball card for him. The recognition may come late, but it is well deserved.
Dream a little dream. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't dream little dreams. He had a very great dream -- one of equality, justice, and peace. Your students may read the text of his words spoken on August 28, 1963, at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., at I Have a Dream. A photo will give the students an idea of what it might have been like to actually see King and hear his words firsthand. And a video link on the I Have a Dream page will truly bring the speech to life. Your students also have dreams, for themselves, their families, and their country. Invite them to share their dreams using this week's Education World teaching master, I Have a Dream Too.
Telling testimonials. Thanks to online sources, students can now read the words of former slaves with the click of a mouse. Firsthand testimonials from slaves can be found at American Slave Narratives and African-American Women. Have your students read the slave accounts from these Web sites and write conversations between two or three of the eyewitnesses. They should be expressed with proper punctuation and include some details contained in the narratives. (Due to the nature of the content contained in the narratives, we recommend that teachers examine the materials prior to having students use them.)
Historical crossword. How can your students review black history and have fun? With the New York Times Monthly Crossword Puzzle! Simply scroll down this page to February's puzzles. Students may choose to play the puzzle online or view an image of it that can be printed and completed with pencil. After they have experienced this sample puzzle, allow your students to create review puzzles to exchange with one another with Puzzlemaker.
Oral history. Another excellent offering from PBS, Africans in America presents America's "journey through slavery" in four parts. Each part includes a historical narrative, a resource bank, and a teacher's guide. As they read, students encounter the stories of individuals who lived at the time and in places that experienced great change. The Web site's guide for students, How to Do Oral History Projects, is an ideal explanation of such a project for your class. Invite your students to interview neighbors and relatives to learn about their experiences and compare them with the experiences of today's young people.
Potent quotables. We can thank American historian Carter G. Woodson for the celebration of Black History Month. Woodson, who worked in Kentucky coal mines to support himself until he was able to enroll in high school at the age of 20, went on to receive his Ph.D. from Harvard and to found Negro History Week, the predecessor of today's February observance. Your students can get to know this man through his words as found in Creative Quotations from Carter G. Woodson. Have them choose a quote and attempt to explain in writing its meaning and whether or not they agree with the idea it conveys.
Article by Cara Bafile
Copyright© 2010 Education World
Originally published 01/31/2000
Last updated 1/26/2017