Matt Homrich-Knieling

Writer and Educator

We are officially one month into 2024! February can be a tough time for teachers and students. Winter break is behind us, and we’re settling back into the routine of school. February is also an exciting time! This month is Black History Month, a time where teachers can use their classrooms to lift up significant people and events connected to Black history. Teachers can also use this month to explore the contributions Black poets, scientists, historians, politicians, athletes, etc. have made in their subject area!

To help you make the most of this important month, we’ve curated a list of innovative and educational lesson plans created by BetterLesson Master Teachers that will engage students of all ages. 

We’re also including a few lessons related to other February holidays, along with some test prep resources as we head into testing season!

Black History Month Resources

Lesson Plan: African-American History Game
Grade Level: Elementary
Big Idea: Students assess their knowledge of African American history by playing a Jeopardy-inspired game.

Lesson Plan: African American Web Quest
Grade Level: Elementary
Big Idea: Students use a web quest to guide research to learn about famous African Americans.

Lesson Plan: Patricia Bath, M.D. African-American Inventor
Grade Level: Elementary
Big Idea: One doctor’s dedication to serving others results in eye instruments that restore eyesight.

Lesson Plan: Rosa Parks
Grade Level: Elementary
Big Idea: Students will gain an understanding of why Rosa Parks is considered the mother of the Civil Rights Movement.

Lesson Plan: Exploring How Social Environment Impacts Setting
Grade Level: Middle
Big Idea: Social Environment helps students make sense of Squeaky’s stress in the story, “Raymond’s Run.”

Lesson Plan: Poetry: Meet Langston Hughes
Grade Level: Middle
Big Idea: Read about the life of Langston Hughes and predict what his writing will be like.

Lesson Plan: The Story of Ruby Bridges
Grade Level: Middle
Big Idea: Students must be able to independently read a text and answer comprehension questions to demonstrate their understanding.

Lesson Plan: Celebrate the Life of Nelson Mandela, Honor His Memory
Grade Level: Middle
Big Idea: Develop an understanding of the events that shaped the life of  Nelson Mandela and identify his continuing legacy.

Lesson Plan: Understanding Word Choice and Zora Neal Hurston’s Feelings About Herself in How It Feels to be Colored Me
Grade Level: High School
Big Idea: How can students get a deeper understanding of an author’s self-image during challenging times?

Lesson Plan: African-American Scientist Project
Grade Level: High School
Big Idea: The contributions of African-American scientists are wide-ranging and have impacted all scientific fields.

Lesson Plan: Literacy & Power with Malcolm X
Grade Level: High School
Big Idea: Building a powerful framework for the value of literacy sounds like a challenging task, but Malcolm X’s story makes the connection easier!

Lesson Plan: Close Reading: James Baldwin Talks to Teachers
Grade Level: High School
Big Idea: Close reading sometimes means analyzing a text one paragraph at a time.

February Holidays: President’s Day & Valentine’s Day

Lesson Plan: We Love Graphing: Valentine’s Day Graphing Fun
Grade Level: Elementary
Big Idea: A special holiday does not mean math learning can’t happen! Have some Valentine’s Day fun with this sweet lesson.

Lesson Plan: Will you be my Valentine?
Grade Level: Elementary
Big Idea: Students solve story problems and celebrate Valentine’s Day in this read aloud inspired lesson. Connect literacy into your math block, and build investment with a fun Valentine craft at the end!

Lesson Plan: Active Engagement on Presidents’ Day
Grade Level: Elementary
Big Idea: While reading independently, students will code two short texts on Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. After sharing their work with partners, students will then complete a 3-2-1 activity to show what they learned from the passages.

Lesson Plan: US President Research Project Presentations
Grade Level: Elementary
Big Idea: Students will dress up like and speak from the perspective of a First Lady or U.S. President they researched for their research project.

Lesson Plan: Heart Parts: Write a Valentine Tale and Perform It
Grade Level: Middle
Big Idea: Students will focus on the parts of speech as they create and perform Valentine’s Day narratives.

Lesson Plan: Love and Evidence
Grade Level: Middle
Big Idea: Students will use fictional characters from literature to determine how they changed over time, using evidence to support their claims.

Lesson Plan: 3rd Monday in February: Presidents Day
Grade Level: Middle
Big Idea: Students will analyze data as they explore the presidential rankings based on specific information in the text.

Lesson Plan: A Valentine’s Sonnet: Writing Sonnets After Examining Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116
Grade Level: High School
Big Idea: How do I love thee? Let me count the… syllables and write to try a sonnet to express it.

Lesson Plan: Unwrapping a Rose: Analyzing Conventional and Literary Symbols in Poetry
Grade Level: High School
Big Idea: What does a rose represent? Is it a flower of love or of death?

Lesson Plan: Analyzing JFK’s Inaugural Address with DocsTeach
Grade Level: High School
Big Idea: Get more meaning from JFK with a background that helps students realize that “wonders” or “terrors” of science literally mean life or death.

Test Preparation

Lesson Plan: Take the Test: Teaching Tricks to Testing
Grade Level: Elementary
Big Idea: Students will write notes, practice tricks, and apply strategies to taking tests.

Lesson Plan: Test Practice Day
Grade Level: Elementary
Big Idea: Exposing students to “practice” standardized tests helps to prepare them for the real thing.

Lesson Plan: Standardized Test Review and Reading Practice
Grade Level: Middle
Big Idea: Students will review the basics of standardized tests and practice reading comprehension.

Lesson Plan: Test Stress! Preparing Students for Standardized Testing
Grade Level: Middle
Big Idea: Don’t let the test outsmart you!

Lesson Plan: Reading for the Test
Grade Level: High School
Big Idea: Ready, set, discuss– preparing for a skills test.

Lesson Plan: Using a Formative ACT for Skill-Driven Test Prep
Grade Level: High School
Big Idea: Want to grade 150 Reading & English practice ACTs in 3 minutes while generating student-specific and whole-class skill reports? Read this!