Fighting for Change: Children of the Civil Rights Movement

Students study the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of the children who experienced its hardships, victories and defeats firsthand by reading and analyzing multiple accounts of the same event.

Unit Summary

In this unit students study the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of the youth and children who experienced the struggles, hardships, victories, defeats, and possibilities firsthand. Students will be challenged to analyze the key characteristics shared by children who participated in the Civil Rights Movement, particularly their courage, commitment, bravery, and unending commitment to fighting for the cause. Over the course of the unit students will realize that through community organizing and a strong desire for justice, regular people, especially youth, were able to come together to use a variety of nonviolent tactics to fight for change, even when faced with resistance, oppression, and violence on a daily basis. The stories and experiences in the unit will highlight that the Civil Rights Movement was driven by the heroism of regular people and that anyone can participate in the fight against injustice. It is our hope that this unit, in conjunction with other units from the sequence, will empower students to notice and challenge the injustices, relying on their knowledge of history and the lessons they’ve learned from those who have fought before them. 

In this unit students refine their skills as critical consumers of texts by analyzing the point of view from which a text is written and noticing how the point of view influences what and how information is presented to a reader. Students will read multiple accounts of the same topic or event and be challenged to notice the similarities and differences in the points of view they represent and how the author uses evidence and reasons to support a particular point of view. Photographs are an important part of the texts in the unit. Students will be pushed to analyze photographs as a source of information to support an author’s point. Students will also continue to practice determining one or more main ideas of a text and explaining how they are supported by key details, summarizing a text, and explaining the relationship between one or more events or individuals in a historical text. Over the course of the unit students will also be required to access information from multiple sources in order to integrate information and draw conclusions about an event or topic.

Subscribe to Fishtank Plus to unlock access to additional resources for this unit, including:

  • Unit Launch
  • Enhanced Lesson Plans
  • Essential Task Guides
  • Student Handout Editor
  • Google Classroom Integration
  • Vocabulary Package
  • Fluency Package
  • Data Analysis Package
 

Unit Launch

Prepare to teach this unit with videos and short readings that cover:

  • Key standards
  • Essential questions
  • Text complexity
  • Monitoring student progress
 

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

?

  • What role did children and teens play in the civil rights movement? 
  • What nonviolent tactics and strategies were used during the civil rights movement to influence change and overturn systems of oppression? 
  • What types of violence, racism, oppression, and opposition did black people and other civil rights activists face during the civil rights movement? 
  • What were some of the key events in the civil rights movement? 
  • How did the persistence of racism and racist attitudes fuel the opposition to the civil rights movement?

Writing Focus Areas

?

Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Write simple, compound, and complex sentences 

There are no new sentence focus areas in this unit. During this unit students will practice responding to daily Target Task questions using a variety of sentence constructions. ​​​​​​

Paragraph-Level Focus Areas

  • Outline and draft multiple paragraph essays 
  • Create topic/introductory sentences
  • Organize ideas into paragraphs
  • Use direct quotations 
  • Create concluding sentences

In units one and two students focused on writing strong single paragraphs. In this unit, students switch to outlining multiple paragraph essays. Students learn how to create topic or introductory sentences, how to organize ideas into paragraphs, how to use transition words and phrases to connect paragraphs, and how to create concluding sentences. Additionally, students learn how to use direct quotations as a type of supporting detail.

Informational Writing Focus Areas

  • Conduct research on a topic
  • Organize facts and details 
  • Outline and draft paragraphs using details 
  • Develop and elaborate on facts and details
  • Add formatting and illustrations to aid comprehension 

In this unit students participate in their second research project. Building on what they learned in unit two, students learn how to conduct research, organize facts and details, outline and draft paragraphs using the details they brainstormed, develop facts and details, and add formatting and illustrations.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Elaborate to support ideas. Students provide evidence or examples to justify and defend their point clearly. 
  • Use vocabulary. Students use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share thoughts.
  • Build on partner's ideas. Students seek to genuinely understand what their peers are saying, and then build on. 

In units one and two students worked on clarifying and sharing their on thoughts during a discussion. They worked on providing evidence or examples to justify and defend their point clearly, and using specific vocabulary when sharing their thoughts. In this unit, students move beyond their own reasoning and begin to respond and interact with the reasoning of others. Students are held responsible for listening to and learning from their peers, and begin to refine and clarify their own thinking  based on others' ideas. 

When building on to partner's ideas, students should seek to genuinely understand what their peers are saying and build on. Ideas should not be random, disconnected, or replace a previous idea. Rather, ideas should zoom in on a particular idea that was said, make a connection between a previous idea and a new idea, or challenge a particular part of an idea. Guidance on teacher moves to support these discussion focuses can be found in our Guide to Academic Discourse (below).

Vocabulary

?

Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

Jim Crow allegedly ally antagonize bigotry charismatic demean deliberate deprive deteriorating defied defiant discriminate disperse dispiriting dismantle dignified enraged evict exasperated hostility hostile humiliating inferior integrate inundate mock ordinance profane recourse resistance resentment ridicule symbolic taunt vacate

Root/Affix

-ment en-

Notes for Teachers

?

We believe it is especially important for teachers to develop background knowledge about both the content of the civil rights movement as well as the best practices for teaching about the civil rights movement in order to ensure students leave this unit with the right understandings. Below we provide our suggestions to help you prepare to effectively teach this unit.

  • Teaching Tolerance has created Five Essential Practices for Teaching the Civil Rights Movement, which we suggest teachers follow when teaching this unit. To learn about these practices, we recommend reading the resources "Civil Rights Done Right" and "The March Continues" by Teaching Tolerance. After reading these resources, think about why each of the best practices is important and how each can be brought to life while teaching this unit.
  • In order to effectively teach about the civil rights movement, teachers also need to feel comfortable talking about race. We suggest reading Teaching Tolerance’s Guide "Let’s Talk! Discussing Race, Racism, and Other Difficult Topics with Students."
  • Additionally, we recommend reading the text So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo. While the whole book provides helpful insights and guidance on how to talk about race and racism, we specifically recommend reading Chapter 3, “What if I talk about race wrong?” and “Why can’t I say the “N” word?”
  • Many of the texts in this unit include the N-word, and it is incredibly important to think carefully about how to preview the N-word with students and to set expectations around the use of the N-word. Words have been used throughout all of American history to separate, dehumanize, and oppress, and the N-word is one of the most powerful of those words. Many of the texts include the word in order to authentically show the hatred and aggression black people faced on a daily basis.
  • Additionally, teachers have to think about the implications of the N-word in their own classroom. Many people have complicated feelings about or are made deeply uncomfortable by this word, no matter what their racial background is. There will be times when the unit includes a read aloud from the text or discuss passages that use this word. It is important to remind students that just because the N-word is used in the text or is the focus of a discussion, it does not mean you or they are supporting the use of the word. For additional context on how the word is used today, read “Straight Talk about the N-Word” from Teaching Tolerance.
  • We suggest opening up honest and respectful discussion about this word and setting ground rules around its use. Before reading the text, consider beginning with the following discussion questions:
    • Why is this word considered so offensive/loaded? 
    • Who is “allowed” to use this word? Who is not allowed?
    • What are the consequences of using this word? 
    • Do you think it is possible to “reclaim” a word that has such a painful history?
    • Should we, as we read this text, be able to say this word?

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Lesson Map

1

  • “Jim Crow and...”

  • “Explaining the Red...”

  • “American Slavery”

  • “Reconstruction in the South”

  • “Civil War”

    RI.5.2

    RI.5.3

Summarize and present key ideas from a historical article.

2

  • Freedom's Children pp. 3 – 8

    RI.5.3

Describe the racism and oppression black people in the South faced on a daily basis. 

3Essential Task

  • Freedom's Children pp. 9 – 16

    RI.5.3

    RI.5.6

Describe the racism and oppression black people in the South faced on a daily basis.

4

Writing

  • Freedom's Children

    RI.5.6

    W.5.2.b

Defend if the children in this section share a similar or different point of view and understanding of the oppression of the time period. 

5

  • Witnesses to Freedom — Chapter 1

    RI.5.2

    RI.5.3

Summarize how and why Barbara Johns protested against segregation in her community.

6

  • Witnesses to Freedom — Chapter 2

    RI.5.2

    RI.5.3

Analyze the role that the nation’s courts played in the fight for civil rights.

7

  • Freedom's Children pp. 32 – 39

    RI.5.3

    RI.5.6

Debate if the children in the section would agree or disagree with the statement that “their courage made a difference not only in each of their individual lives, but for all the others who have followed,”.

8Essential Task

  • Witnesses to Freedom — Chapter 3

    RI.5.8

Explain how the author uses evidence and reasons to support the point that school desegregation required young Negroes with courage to face the challenges and dangers of mob resistance. 

9

  • Freedom's Children pp. 41 – 49

    RI.5.8

Explain how Ernest uses reasons and evidence to support the idea that you can do a lot more than you think you can. 

10

2 days

Writing

  • All unit texts

    RI.5.9

    W.5.2

    W.5.2.a

    W.5.2.b

    W.5.2.e

    SL.5.1

Synthesize and analyze details from multiple texts in order to deepen understanding of a topic. 

11

  • Witnesses to Freedom — Chapter 4

    RI.5.2

    RI.5.3

Summarize the key events of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by determining a main idea and supporting details in order to summarize a text. 

12

  • Claudette Colvin — Chapter 1

    RI.5.2

Identify the central idea the author conveys in this chapter and what the central idea reveals about the author’s perspective on segregation and social injustice.

13

  • Claudette Colvin — Chapter 4

    RI.5.6

Compare and contrast Claudette’s account of what happened on March 2, 1955, with what is documented in the police report, as well as, explain why the author decides to include both versions. 

14

  • Claudette Colvin — Chapter 6

    RI.5.6

    RI.5.8

Explain what the quote reveals about the author’s point of view of Claudette and how the author supports his point of view.

15

  • Claudette Colvin — Chapter 7

    RI.5.6

    RI.5.8

Explain why Claudette and Rosa Parks were perceived differently by the community and if Claudette could have been the face of the movement. 

16Essential Task

  • Claudette Colvin — Chapter 8

    RI.5.6

    RI.5.8

Explain the tactics and strategies the black community used to make the bus boycott a success and if all members of the community shared the same perspective.

17

  • Claudette Colvin — Chapter 9

    RI.5.2

    RI.5.3

    RI.5.8

Defend if Claudette’s actions did or did not prove that she was able to make a larger impact and that she could have been the “right” individual. 

18

  • Claudette Colvin — chapter 10

    RI.5.3

    RI.5.8

Explain what happened in Montgomery after the court decision was made and how different groups responded. 

19

Debate

  • Claudette Colvin

    RI.5.2

    SL.5.1

    SL.5.2

    SL.5.3

Debate if Claudette or Rosa should be remembered as the hero of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and how the perspective from which history is told has influenced our point of view.

20

2 days

Writing

  • Claudette Colvin

    RI.5.9

    W.5.2

    W.5.2.a

    W.5.2.b

    W.5.2.e

Synthesize and analyze details from multiple texts in order to deepen understanding of a topic. 

21

  • Witnesses to Freedom — Chapters 5 and 6

    RI.5.2

Determine the main ideas the author is trying to convey about the Civil Rights Movement in chapters 5 and 6 and describe how the author uses key details to support the main idea. 

22

  • Witnesses to Freedom — Chapter 7

    RI.5.2

Determine the main ideas the author is trying to convey about the Civil Rights Movement in chapter 7 and describe how the author uses key details to support the main idea. 

23Essential Task

  • Witnesses to Freedom — Chapter 8

    RI.5.2

Determine the main ideas the author is trying to convey about the civil rights movement in chapter 8 and describe how the author uses key details to support the main idea. 

24

  • Witnesses to Freedom — Chapter 9

    RI.5.2

Summarize the key events of the Road to Freedom by determining a main idea and supporting details in order to summarize a text. 

25

  • Selma, Lord, Selma pp. 87 – 98

    RI.5.6

    RI.5.8

Analyze why Sheyann ends with the statement “They had beaten us like we were slaves.”

26

  • Turning 15 pp. 50 – 65

    RI.5.2

    RI.5.6

Identify the central idea the author conveys and what the central idea reveals about the author’s perspective on segregation and social injustice.

27

  • Selma, Lord, Selma pp. 122 – 1128

    RI.5.2

Describe the real triumph of the march from Selma to Montgomery.

28

  • Turning 15 pp. 68 – 87

    RI.5.2

    RI.5.6

Identify the central idea the author conveys and what the central idea reveals about the author’s perspective on segregation and social injustice.

29

  • Turning 15 — pgs 97-106 and 131-132

    RI.5.2

    RI.5.6

Explain why the author put the word “you” in italics and how it supports the author’s point of view and purpose for telling her story.

30Essential Task

2 days

Writing

  • Selma, Lord, Selma

  • Turning 15

  • Witnesses to Freedom

    RI.5.6

    W.5.2.a

    W.5.2.b

    W.5.2.e

    L.5.2.d

Analyze multiple accounts of the same event by noting important similarities and differences among the points of view they represent. 

31

Discussion

  • Selma, Lord, Selma

    RI.5.9

    W.5.2

    SL.5.1

    SL.5.3

Synthesize and analyze details from multiple texts in order to deepen understanding of a topic.

32

Assessment

33

5 days

Informative Writing

    RI.5.9

    W.5.2

    W.5.2.a

    W.5.2.b

    W.5.2.e

    W.5.6

    W.5.7

    W.5.8

Conduct a short research project that uses several sources to build knowledge of different aspects of a topic. 

34

Project

    RI.5.9

    SL.5.1

    SL.5.4

    SL.5.5

Synthesize information from the entire unit in order to create and execute a plan to fight injustice in your community. 

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.5.2.d — Use underlining, quotation marks, or italics to indicate titles of works.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.5.2 — Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.

  • RI.5.3 — Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

  • RI.5.6 — Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.

  • RI.5.8 — Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).

  • RI.5.9 — Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.5.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.5.2 — Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

  • SL.5.3 — Summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence.

  • SL.5.4 — Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

  • SL.5.5 — Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

Writing Standards
  • W.5.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

  • W.5.2.a — Introduce a topic clearly, provide a general observation and focus, and group related information logically; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • W.5.2.b — Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.

  • W.5.2.e — Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented

  • W.5.6 — With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.

  • W.5.7 — Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

  • W.5.8 — Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.

Sprial Standards

?

L.5.1

L.5.1.b

L.5.1.d

L.5.2

L.5.2.c

L.5.2.d

L.5.2.e

L.5.3.a

L.5.4

L.5.4.b

L.5.6

RF.5.3

RF.5.4

RI.5.1

RI.5.10

RI.5.4

RI.5.7

SL.5.1

SL.5.4

SL.5.5

SL.5.6

W.5.10

W.5.4

W.5.5

W.5.7

W.5.8

W.5.9