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Six Teaching Tools for Black History Month

Editor's Note: In addition to 6 great resources from last year, we've updated this post to include new tools for the 2014 Black History Month theme, "Civil Rights in America." Here are some of the best virtual museum tours, lesson plans and digital multimedia packages from a variety of sources.

Black History Month provides a great opportunity for students to explore the history of Civil Rights in America. But it's important that teachers "reinforce that 'black history' is American history," writes Pat Russo in Dos and Don'ts of Teaching Black History Month. Russo's article is a great place to start when determining how to best incorporate black history into your lesson plans. Really, it's a topic that should be incorporated throughout the year, Russo writes, but in February, teachers can dig deeper, provide students with more context, and connect the past to the present.

Each year since 1928, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History has provided a theme for Black History Month. This year's theme, "Civil Rights in America," allows students to research and explore the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and examine how the movement has continued to develop into the present.

To help celebrate Black History Month 2014, there are a plethora of valuable teaching resources on the Web, from interactive timelines and rich multimedia to lesson plans and study guides. Here are some suggestions for teaching Civil Rights, along with general resources from last year's blog:

Civil Rights in America: Resources for Teachers

  • Lessons and Teaching Resources from the National Civil Rights Museum: Located in Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum offers an up-close look at the Civil Rights Movement. But if you're not nearby, the museum features a wealth of resources online, including lesson plans, suggested reading and Web exhibits. Also, take a look at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute's website, where you'll find rich multimedia exhibits, including an engaging oral history project.
  • The Civil Rights Collection from PBS LearningMedia: PBS has curated a valuable collection of teaching resources. The focus is primarily on upper grades -- 6-12 -- with lesson plans and source collections corresponding to different themes. Last year, PBS also published, "10 Resources for Teaching the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington," which provides videos and other resources to help teachers cover the history of the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Civil Rights Teaching Resources from the Library of Congress: There's plenty for students to discover in this collection from the LOC. In addition to lesson plans for teachers, there's also a cache of primary sources for students to explore, including artwork, baseball cards, political cartoons and photographs. The LOC also hosts a more general Black History Month page with plenty of additional resources.
  • The Best Websites for Teaching Black History: Here's one from EdTechTeacher's Best History Website series. This page provides an in-depth listing of free teaching resources, covering many different facets of the Civil Rights Movement. For teachers, there's a really great lesson plan section, as well as a section for general Black History Month resources.
  • Civil Rights Lessons from the Smithsonian: Smithsonian Source offers a smaller package of document-based question (DBQ) activities and lesson plans with links to source material. There are resources here for all grades, including two elementary school plans and both high school and middle school DBQs.

General Resources for Black History Month

There are many wonderful resources online for Black History Month, and unfortunately, we could just cover a few. Did we miss anything? What resources do you use in your classroom during Black History Month?

Comments (12)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

DeanJeanQuam's picture
Dean of University of Minnesota - College of Education & Human Development

Nice list! We have a resource to add. You can also celebrate Black History Month by hosting an African American Read-In in your classroom or community: http://cehdvision2020.umn.edu/cehd-blog/celebrate-black-history-month-by.... Either formal or casual, it's a great way for students to learn the historical significance of education and literacy in the African American community.
-Dean Jean Quam, University of Minnesota CEHD

Shelley's picture

Thank-you everyone for all the great online resources. I work in an environment where there is no access to online resources. Therefore, I have utilized our local public library. I was able to get a variety of DVDs and books.

I highly recommend reading the link on the Do's and Don'ts of Teaching Black History.

Jennifer Carey's picture
Jennifer Carey
Director of Educational Technology from Miami, FL

Thank you all for this list!! This is excellent. Thanks for everyone who included additions.

noellerapozogmailcom - 268991's picture

I teach fourth graders and broaching the subject of African American studies can sometimes be a tricky thing (considering how horrible and violent it was), especially working in a district that's demographics are primarily Caucasian. However, after reading your blog and checking out the websites you tagged, I felt better informed and more comfortable talking about African American history from the stand point of it being, "American history" as well- I've never really looked at it this way. I appreciate your insight and the resources you provided- I found them very helpful. Currently my students are creating African American reports. Each student has chosen a person to explore and research on his or her iPads and in the library. I've taught them to write a summary style of essay using a persuasive tone to convince me that there person of choice is the most interesting African American that has lived. They are also expected to create an oral presentation explaining their person to the rest of the class, as well as some sort of visual aid to go with their report. We'll see how it goes...

Thanks for your post and information I found it very helpful!

Basmah's picture

I really like the banner that you have in your picture. May I ask where you got it?

Hillary Hill's picture
Hillary Hill
Community Engagement Intern at Edutopia


We used the photo under a Creative Commons license. The photo comes from Z. Smith Reynolds. Their Flickr account is @zsrlibrary - https://www.flickr.com/photos/zsrlibrary/. You might want to try getting in contact through there.

Hope this helps!

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