Explore origin stories
Origin stories - or where things come from, are always of high interest to readers. In this Minute, Author Adams actually gives her readers two origin stories - that of Black History month, and that of Frederick Douglass. See if your students can identify the two stories intertwined in this Minute. Guide a table discussion about why students think origin stories are important. What can we learn? Why does it matter? At the heart of writing, an author must always be able to answer the “so what - who cares?” Ask your students to answer it for this Minute and for their own work as authors.
Explore US history - the institution of slavery
While this Minute highlights the many accomplishments of African American Frederick Douglass, Author Adams also addresses some of the challenging consequences of the institution of slavery, from not knowing one’s birth date, to losing a parent to a sale on the auction block. Teaching slavery can feel like walking through a minefield, and it is tempting to teach the escape stories and contributions of famous African Americans without dealing with the very real challenges, contributions and histories of the hundreds of thousands of unnamed slaves who contributed to the growth and prosperity of this country. For ideas on how to teach students about slavery, look to resources like this discussion on Scholastic’s site, or the article posted on NPR on February 4, 2018. For older students, read the study on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s site and consider taking the quiz. Another solid resource for educators can be found at PBS' Africans in America.
Explore primary documents - the Emancipation Proclamation
This Minute mentions the Emancipation Proclamation, a document penned and signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Though this document ended slavery in the states that seceded, there were five border states where slavery did not officially end until the sooner of the state government issuing a declaration, or the 1865 passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Have older students do a close read of the Emancipation Proclamation and identify which states were not included. Take a closer look at the geography of the five states exempted (Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri and West Virginia) and investigate how and when slavery was abolished in these states. Look at these states on a map and discuss the geographical implications that made them different.
Explore Google Arts & Culture - Black History and Culture
Author Adams shares a true story to add to our schema. Encourage your students to continue building their schema by taking a virtual filed trip to Google's Arts & Culture project. There is now one more great reason to take a long look. This month, Google added a new section dedicated to Black history and culture, and there are thousands of pieces of art, stories, artifacts, videos and an interactive timeline.that provides a visual explosion of information. Give your students some time to explore this resource. Ask them to find the stories and visuals that speak to them and share them with a group or the class.
Explore Primary documents
Have students check the National archives for pictures of the original Emancipation Proclamation and the accompanying transcript of the document. Go to the Library of Congress to see primary artifacts and writings of Frederick Douglass, including archived digital copies of the publication he authored in Rochester, NY, the North Star. Guide a discussion on the importance of primary sources in research.
© Karen Sterling, 2018 - May be used for educational purposes without written permission