Intro to Rosa Parks: Building Prior Knowledge through Experiencing Segregation

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SWBAT relate to and collaboratively discuss what segregation may have been like

Big Idea

How does it feel to be unfairly discriminated against?


This is the first lesson of reading Rosa Parks' autobiography: My Story.  Many scholars do not have much prior knowledge regarding segregation or discrimination.  Moreover, many scholars think it is a thing of the past.  I use this lesson to build prior knowledge and give scholars a concrete experience with new concepts and vocabulary that are important to the text.  This will help scholars to be more successful with the complex text.

Also, it helps them to better understand the link to the broader theme: Give it all You've Got! because they can more readily understand how challenging it was to be black in America in the 1950's.  They can more closely relate to Rosa Parks and how difficult it was to be courageous in the face of the challenges of segregation. 

Teaching Strategy

20 minutes

I show scholars a slide that says, "Everyone wearing jeans, go to the back of the classroom."  I give scholars 30 seconds to move to the place in the room where they belong. 

I tell them that we are going to have a lesson on main ideas and supporting details (this skill doesn't matter, it is just a part of the role play).  I give all of the scholars up front (without jeans), text books.  I tell the scholars with jeans on that they can just share (I give 2 books to the group). 

I sit with the scholars without jeans and we read out loud.  I pause, and tell scholars without jeans that they can get up and get a drink whenever they want.  They can go to the bathroom whenever they want.  Scholars with jeans will inevitably ask to use the restroom (I say they have to wait until everyone without jeans has gone).   I give scholars up front markers, pens, pencils and paper.  I give scholars with jeans broken pencils and 5 sheets of paper. 

If someone without jeans needs a seat, scholars with jeans need to give them their seat. 

I continue with the lesson for about 10-20 minutes, depending on how the scholars take it.  If needed, you can tell scholars that you are going to do a role play and then discuss it to introduce a new book.  If you think your scholars can handle it, you could just pretend that it is real.  Since my scholars are 10-11 years old and still a little young, I like to tell them that this is a role play.  Last year, some scholars became pretty upset and I think that it is better to be transparent on the front end with them. 


25 minutes

I give scholars 5 minutes to describe what happened by writing 1 clear paragraph.  I ask them to take their time and use as much description as they can.  I then ask them to turn and share their description with a friend. Here's a reflection of a student who wore jeans (segregated against) and one who did not wear jeans (not segregated against).  

I pull 2 friends from my cup to share.  If scholars do not want to share, I allow them to pass.  It may be uncomfortable or emotional for some scholars to share, so it is important that the pass-option is available. 

I then ask volunteers to share. 

Then, I lead a discussion based on the following questions:

1. How did wearing jeans/not wearing jeans influence your description?

2. If you wore jeans, describe what happened from someone who was NOT wearing jeans' perspective.  If you did NOT wear jeans, describe what happened from someone who was wearing jeans perspective. 

3. How do you think we can apply what we experienced today as we learn about Rosa Parks?

Then, I define segregation and discrimination for the scholars.  We put these words on our Winning Word Wall.  I explain that we are going to be reading and learning about Rosa Parks for the next three weeks.  We are going to learn how she "Gave it all she had" and became a leader of the Civil Rights Movement. 


Small Groups & re-teaching

45 minutes

Our previous lesson was a "Game Day" - Test.  The day after a test, I always reserve 45 minutes for small group re-teaching.  I re-organize my small groups so that they are based on the skill that the scholar missed on the test.  That way, I can re-teach and scholars can go back to their tests and fix the mistake.  The reason why I do this is so that scholars can understand WHY they made a mistake and they have an opportunity to re-learn it and fix the mistake. 

While my ELL teacher and I are re-teaching in small groups, the independent group finishes all checklist items and completes 1 main ideas/supporting details graphic organizer for 1 book in their book baggies. 

Rotation procedures, etc. follow the normal routine as outlined in the independent practice portion of previous lessons.