Happy February Teachers of Emergent Bilinguals! It’s Black History Month and a perfect time to teach emergent bilinguals content, language and literacy. Essential questions about human struggle, civil rights, and fighting for change are sensitive but inspiring topics many of our students can relate to. We want to be mindful, however, not to teach a Social Studies lesson in Stand Alone. We need to teach Black History for Emergent Bilinguals in a way that advances their background knowledge, vocabulary, listening and reading comprehension, and sentence structure.
model lesson on black history for emergent bilinguals
I’ve designed a model lesson for adolescent learners (which can certainly be modified for younger students). It’s based on a few main ideas in Black history: segregation, Rosa Parks and the bus boycott, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the American Dream. The lesson is meant to span approximately 180 minutes of Stand Alone. However, you can certainly extend it to include other videos, text, or activities. Alternatively, the lesson could be adjusted for an integrated ENL-ELA classroom.
Many newcomer students and even those who have been here longer are often unaware of Black history. This puts them at a major disadvantage when these topics are studied in Social Studies and Language Arts.
period 1 segregation
During the first period of instruction, we introduce students to the questions of same or different; equal or unequal; fair or unfair? with home language translations and ask them to look at two pictures of segregated classrooms. After analyzing the pictures, students discuss the content on a slide. It shows activities like drinking from a water fountain or eating in a restaurant. Then, students get a sentence stem.
“Before 1964, Blacks could or could not ….” .
Students turn and talk about which activities they think (before the upcoming video) Blacks could or could not do. After doing this activity with middle school students yesterday, many were shocked to learn that these laws existed. The lesson goes on to introduce key vocabulary. A short video explains segregation to a younger audience. Finally, students expand sentences using and, or, but, and because. I have designed three differentiated worksheets by proficiency level.
period 2 rosa parks
Period 2 centers on Rosa Parks and the concept of an activist or hero. Students can connect the learning to themselves by thinking about who one of their heroes is and why. Students are again introduced to key academic vocabulary and the class does a read aloud of Riding with Rosa Parks from Readinga-z.com . The language of the text is a perfect level for or entering-emerging students, with lots of visual support. Students end the period by practicing more sentence expansion with and, but, and because. You can decide to read the text in one period, or extend it to two and go more in depth on the bus boycott. The goal is to have students writing compound sentences all week and getting comfortable with the difference between the conjunctions. Because is of course a subordinating conjunction, but is important to include so students can answer the question why?
periods 3-4 dr. martin luther king, jr.
Students warm-up by reviewing all the academic vocabulary they have learned thus far – this is a key element to teaching Black history for emergent bilinguals. They then practice some high frequency words, and practice reading sentences including those words and key vocabulary. So far in our scope and sequence, we’ve been teaching consonants and short vowels, and our students will continue with their phonics and morphology work. But since most adolescent emergent bilinguals come to school with some literacy skills in their home language, they’re more than capable of recognizing some words visually. We should encourage this as much as possible, while at the same time teaching them to decode.
The law was unfair.
There was segregation.
Rosa Parks was an activist.
She was arrested.
Students should read the high frequency words chorally as a drill, as well as the sentences. Feel free to extend the learning by having them take dictation, and repeat this exercise in upcoming lessons, perhaps switching out some of the words to recycle vocabulary.
Students go on in this period to learn more vocabulary, watch a video on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Scholastic, as well as continue with their sentence expansion exercises.
Finally, if time allows, extend the learning into Period 4 or beyond by having students watch a clip of the I Have a Dream speech.
The class as a whole, or students in groups use their vocabulary from the week to discuss what their American dream is, what their hopes for the future are, and what they want to change in their Home Countries or here in the U.S. Students write sentences using and, or, but, and because independently, or expand sentence stems like “My American dream is to go to school and ______________________. “
Find the whole model lesson, plus worksheets, for you to copy, make adjustments, and use in your classroom. This is Black history for emergent bilinguals! I hope that by the end of this lesson, they have enjoyed being exposed to rich ideas and vocabulary, feel they can express themselves orally and in writing, and have had a chance to share how they feel about their hopes and dreams for the future.
As always, leave your comments below and stay tuned for more next week!
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