In February, classrooms across the nation celebrate Black History Month. This month is an important time for reflection of our nation’s history. Secondly, it gives people the opportunity to see through a different lens, and understand empathy and tolerance for those who face adversity. In addition, Black History Month in the classroom lends itself to empathy and compassion lessons, as well as teaching the importance of tolerance and equality for all people. Here are five impactful Black History ideas for middle school and engaging activities for middle school students for Black History Month.
Perfect Ideas for Black History Month
- Create a gallery walk using images from the Civil Rights Movement. Firstly, hang some of the images around your classroom. Next, have your students rotate through each picture. Give your students a minute or two to analyze the picture. Then, have them reflect on what is happening in the picture. In addition, provide your students with a worksheet where they can write down their thoughts and reflect on the images. Here are some excellent websites for Black History images:
- Take part in a virtual museum exhibition. Have your students go on a virtual field trip and view exhibitions of the Civil Rights Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. Create questions based on the virtual museum that your students will answer as they explore. Your students can also work on this collaboratively with one of their classmates. This makes an excellent group work assignment.
- Educate your students about racism, segregation, and stereotyping. Understanding specific vocabulary and its impact is the first step to ending racism through education. First, take a class period to review words like, “racism”, “tolerance”, “discrimination”, “prejudice”, and “stereotyping”. Next, follow up with an activity that has your students looking deeper into these words. Ask them, “How these words have the ability to impact someone’s life and feelings?“.
If you are looking for stereotyping activities for middle school students for Black History Month, check out these lessons from Teaching Tolerance. This lesson is created for a 3rd-5th grade classroom. However, this can be easily adapted into a middle school lesson on stereotyping:
Analyzing Gender Stereotypes in the Media
Here is another stereotyping activity based on the size of a person:
Accepting Size Differences
Lessons on Racism
Analyzing an Editorial Cartoon
Using Photographs to Expose Social Justice
- Discover poetry by black and brown poets. Firstly, make a copy of different poems by black and brown poets for your students. Next, separate your students into pairs. Have them analyze the poem together. They can annotate in the margin of the poem. Lastly, have your student recite the poem in front of their peers. Also, have them explain their analysis and the meaning behind the poem. Here are some beautiful poems by famous black and brown poets:
“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou
“Dirt” by Kwame Dawes
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson
“Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes
“Please Don’t Steal My Air Jordans” by Reg e. Gaines
“Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar
- Explore novels about Black History and novels told through the eyes of black and brown narrators. Literature gives readers a window into the lives and events of all different types of people and characters. Exploring novels that have black history or a black/brown narrator lets readers comprehend the time period. It also has them analyze the struggles of these characters and settings. In addition, readers have the ability to make connections and empathize with the characters. This ignites a growth of understanding and compassion for others of a different race. Here are a list of novels that explores black history or are told through a black/brown narrator:
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
- Monster by Walter Dean Myers
- The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- Dough Boys by Paula Chase
- New Kid by Jerry Craft
- Reading Middle Grade shares her list of 65 of the Best Black Young Adult Novels
Other Resources You May Like…
Here are other resources you may want to include in your Black History activities and lessons:
Teaching Tolerance & Acceptance
Breaking Down Stereotypes & Prejudices
Martin Luther King Jr. Author Adventure
I hope you find these ideas exciting and engaging for your classroom!