Students at St. Brendan participated in many activities during Black History Month as can be seen below, but the highlight was the presentation by Por Amor who took us on a trip through Ghana to find a griot. Students had the opportunity to learn about umoja which means unity, a game called oware, kumba which means creativity and so much more through music, dance and storytelling. To see pictures and videos from the presentation, click on the link below.
Below are examples of some of the activities students participated in during class. These many activities integrated black history and culture through reading, writing, art, music, and technology.
Grade 2 students started the month by doing “I have a Dream” posters. Some students worked with their reading buddies on timelines of various influential people. At the end of the month, students will use the 5W’s to write about their black history hero. Others started off the month by learning and reading about Martin Luther King Jr. before getting the opportunity to come up with our own “I Have a Dream” statements. Then, they learned about other black history heroes such as Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson. Each student selected one hero to write a paragraph about describing why they have made a difference.
Other grade 2’s were very busy reading and doing drama based on the book Henry’s Freedom Box. They also produced artwork based on the book Water Princess and created their own “mud cloth”…a tradition from Mali. On top of that, these students participated in a literacy unit based on the Book Amazing Grace and even learned to play the djembe.
Kindergarten students read the beautiful story “I am Enough” in which they learned “Hands of Friendship…Different is Beautiful” through this Quote from the book: “I’m not meant to be like you; you’re not meant to be like me…. I know that we don’t look the same: our skin, our eyes, our hair our frame.” They also participated in an activity where they pretended to be on a bus; scenarios that showed how individuals can be excluded based on various things. For example, individuals with glasses (including teachers) had to sit at the back of the bus and the people with no glasses got to sit at the front of the bus. Other examples were: light eyes vs dark eyes, long hair vs short, etc. Students talked about how this made them feel. They expressed that this made them mad, sad and that it’s not fair.
From there, students very gently talked about how there was a time when this occurred and could even still happen today, where individuals are treated poorly because others may feel they are different in some way. We talked about a special man named Martin Luther King and how he dreamed of a world where this didn’t happen. The Lesson: … being different is absolutely beautiful and God made us to be like him and made us special! God doesn’t make mistakes and definitely didn’t make a mistake when he made you.
A number of other kindergarten students read the story “The Crayon Box that Talked” as a way to discuss how unique and special we all are and the importance of celebrating our differences. The students then created self portraits.
Grade 4 students completed independent research projects on an individual of their choice. Their projects were presented using a method selected from a menu of choice (Google Slides, a book, a poster, etc), as well as an oral presentation to share their work. Others read books about Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and watched videos about Dr. Martin Luther King & Ruby Bridges.
There were many discussions about how these people are great examples of how to live like Jesus, as they showed deep care for others, and like Jesus, stood up for people who were mistreated in society. Lastly, one class used a book about Viola Desmond to spark discussion about why we celebrate Black History Month and also made the connection to this month’s virtue – wisdom.
Tying this unit into their study of biographies and autobiographies, each day in February one grade 6 class watched a video clip from either the history channel, biography.com or Flocabulary, focusing on a prominent black Canadian figure. Their culminating task was to research someone specific and reflect upon their contribution in a written assignment.
Other grade 6 students have been doing themed readings, as well as watching videos, including the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech. The students have been researching influential contributors to black history and then shared their work in PowerPoint presentations.