The March Continues
The Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX) indexes more than 200 resources for teaching the civil rights movement. The site features many teacher-designed materials and materials from outside providers. These include dozens of lesson plans and podcasts as well as informational resources and activities provided by sponsoring partners. Teachers can create a personal workspace for storing and sharing lesson plans.
The high school civil rights unit in Louisiana’s Comprehensive Curriculum is an outstanding resource for secondary teachers working to teach the movement. Multiple units link time-tested teaching strategies to movement ideas, figures and events. The lessons reach well beyond the traditional movement narrative, from the murder of Emmett Till to Watts and beyond. Throughout, the curriculum directs teachers to valuable resources available online, including many original historical documents.
3. South Carolina
South Carolina’s Social Studies Support Document should be required reading for anyone teaching the civil rights movement. In 1994, the South Carolina Department of Education published African Americans and the Palmetto State. At more than 250 pages, this book (available for free on the South Carolina DOE’s website) is an extraordinary resource for teachers. Its coverage of the civil rights movement in South Carolina is well-constructed and engaging.
Georgia’s resources include “Share the Journey” packets for grades K-12. They are clearly linked to the Common Core, guiding teachers through detailed units. While they focus on the events of 1963, the “Share the Journey” lessons expand from the March on Washington to cover a broad view of the civil rights movement. They treat resistance to the movement in detail, particularly above the fifth grade. Two lessons use especially innovative connections to world history.
The Maryland State Department of Education’s partnership with the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture has produced lessons across grade levels that are aligned with museum content. Some of the lessons are collected online. Several are movement-related. The lessons as a whole are excellent—most teachers could immediately use them in their classrooms.
Virginia’s History and Social Science Enhanced Scope and Sequence (ESS) Sample Lesson Plans contain many useful lessons for teaching the movement. Additional resources are linked from the state’s History and Social Science Instruction Web page. The resources include a variety of audio, video, print resources and lesson plans selected by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Division of Legislative Services that help explain the civil rights movement as well as Virginia’s role in the movement and the impact of massive resistance in communities across the state.
Pennsylvania’s Standards Aligned System website does an excellent job of clearly linking resources and supporting materials to the state’s content standards. The site points teachers to many resources related to the civil rights movement. Even when those resources are outside the Pennsylvania site (for example, on a third-party provider like Thinkfinity), the SAS site clearly links resources to state standards and provides a summary of activities, allowing teachers to choose quickly among resources that might be useful to their specific lessons or student populations. The linked resources, in general, are high-quality. Many use original historical documents and encourage teachers to use those documents thoughtfully in the classroom.
8. North Carolina
North Carolina’s new K-12 Social Studies Unpacking Document is an innovation in the construction of state curriculum frameworks. The document’s embedded hyperlinks lead teachers to an exceptionally rich and well-curated set of online resources for teaching the civil rights movement. They have an admirable emphasis on original historical documents, most linked to lesson plans and resources that teachers could easily adopt in their classrooms. The state’s sample unit for teaching the civil rights movement in eighth grade is a good example for teachers in the middle grades. Finally, they offer a collection of suggested activities for students during and after field trips to civil rights museums. While not all teachers will have access to similar museums, these activities could be models for other local exhibits or repurposed for virtual museum tours now widely available online.
As part of the anniversary of the March on Washington, Utah has created some additional resources, including a timeline of events from 1954 into the 1970s, with links to specific events during each of those years. This is a rich and well-constructed resource for teachers that curates outside content in a dynamic environment. It is matched by the civil rights resources linked at the Utah Education Network’s “Themepark,” where coverage expands far beyond the standard movement narrative and resources. In addition, Utah’s State Office of Education now offers an online course for teachers about the civil rights movement as part of an effort to provide substantial professional-development opportunities on this crucial time in U.S. history. The course covers major figures, events and groups in the struggle, including the activities of black and white Americans. This two-credit, eight-week course is unique in its breadth and ambition.