February: Black History Month "Riding with Rosa"

18 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


TSWBAT analyze the Montgomery City Code primary resource and compare it to a book about Rosa Parks in order to write an opinion piece with textual evidence.

Big Idea

Students "sit" on the bus with Rosa Parks and describe what they would have done when Mrs. Parks was confronted by the bus driver.

Warm Up

30 minutes

I show the statue of Rosa Parks in Capitol Rotunda and explain the significance.  This is a good lead into the discussion, and the kids are already eager to share what they learned about her in past classes. 

After answering questions, etc. I read the book, Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, a yearly occurance in my classroom.  In addition to the quality writing and illustrations, the way its written really meshes with the Teaching Tolerance movie, "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks," we'll watch.  I put the Montgomery City Code primary resource onto the Smart Board and give the kids a copy at their desks.  They read through it and underline/highlight/Analyze the things that really stand out.  Once everyone has had the chance to do this, we look at it as a whole group and mark up the Smart Board copy.  Here is the Montgomery City Code on Smart Board.

Now that both texts have been read, I pass out the Comparisons Using 5 Ws.  Because these related texts are quite different, I write more than just the 5 Ws...there are prompts added that are specific to the text type.  The kids are familiar with analyzing literature, such as Rosa, but the primary resource section is new and difficult.  The graphic organizer supports their challenge by keeping them focused on the content.  The kids complete these, Comparing book and primary resource, and use the graphic organizers to share their thinking.  Although they expect to turn the papers in, I want them to hold onto the information until the final section of the Rosa Parks' activity.

Student Example Comparisons with 5 Ws 

Student Example Comparisons with 5 Ws

Student Example Comparisons with 5 Ws

Student Example Comparisons with 5 Ws

Rosa Parks Texts animoto video.



Viewing "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks"

40 minutes

The students watch an engaging (The kids were focused) forty minute film from Teaching Tolerance called, "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks," an Academy Award nominee for the Best Documentary Short Subject category in 2003. It details the events surrounding the days before, during, and after Mrs. Parks took a stand by staying in her seat on that Alabama bus.  The story moves at a nice pace, the music is fabulous, and the students have an understanding of what occurred that day in a way they may not have in the past. I had to take a picture from the front.  I typically require the students to complete a viewing guide or film analysis paper while taking in a film, but not with this one.  I want them to give their full attention to the screen.

Although this movie is readily available from Teaching Tolerance, possibly still given free to educators, the lesson can proceed without viewing it.  The analyzing activity can be enough.



20 minutes

The students spontaneously clap at the conclusion of the movie, which is gratifying. We discuss some of the things we saw. I ask the kids to compare the movie to the book, Rosa, and information gleaned from the primary resource, Montgomery City Code which were analyzed during the warm up.

Next, I tell the kids that they're going to do an activity in which they'll pretend to be on the bus with Rosa Parks when the bus driver approaches her.  They will use evidence from this historical event and write from that perspective.  There is interest and my writers are really excited for this writing assignment everyone wants to participate in..  What they don't know is that I've affixed a copy of their school picture onto the man's face in that famous recreated picture of Rosa Parks on the bus. A Student "Riding" with Rosa-they truly will be sitting next to Rosa.  Because I have a flair for the dramatic, I don't want this information presented one by one, but as a whole group.  I tell the kids that they will face consequences if they turn their paper over before I give the word.  So far, I've never had to come up with the consequence because each child respects the seriousness of my voice.  Write the student names in the corners on the back of the paper so you're sure to get the right picture to the right child. Here is a collection of my student, "Riding with Rosa," papers.  Once you give the signal, they all turn over their paper and there's an entertaining sound of recognition as they spot their own head on the man's body.  The writing assignment "Riding with Rosa" has suddenly taken on a more exciting feel, and after they've had a moment to share their photo with friends, it's a writing fest!

The kids are to reflect back to the information they gained from both the texts in the warm up and then "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks," . They will cite textual evidence and write a narrative opinion piece about what their reaction would have been that day below the picture of themselves, and Rosa Parks. 

I've enjoyed presenting this for many years, and must give credit to the National Council for the Social Studies magazine, Social Education, for including the part about adding the students' face to the picture (in an issue I read long ago.)

Animoto slideshow of writing.



10 minutes

Many students will be eager to share their writing with the class, and I look forward to this day each year.  The writing is from the heart.  The excitement and energy this lesson generates is long lasting.  The kids enjoy looking at the "Riding with Rosa" Bulletin Board and reading the other "accounts."  Visiting students over the years have told me how well they remember this day, which gives me an indication of its lasting impact.

They're given a Mighty Times Homework Assignment of five questions to answer about the video, which they find pleasantly easy due to after watching the video so intently. Student Homework Example.