One Week Unit Study for Black History Month

We would like to see some diversity! To get it started here’s a one week unit study for Black History Month.

One week unit study for Black History Month. Diversity education introduction for homeschool high schoolers. #HomeschoolHighSchool #UnitStudyForHighSchoolHistory #BlackHistoryMonthUnitStudy #DiversityUnitStudy

One Week Unit Study for Black History Month

I can remember being in elementary school and being shocked when my teacher shared about the Timucua people who lived in our home state of Florida when the Spanish arrived. This was not in our history books! Our teacher had added this information so that we had a fuller picture of Florida’s history.

I went home from school that day and informed my mother about all I had learned that day and that the information about the Indigenous people was left out of our textbooks. My mother explained something that helped me understand a lot about textbooks: Textbooks (and history in particular) are written by the victors.

That made sense. No matter how unbiased a person may try to be, their writing and beliefs are shaped by their presuppositions (the basic things they “just know”). All of us have presuppositions, we have things we just know and we do not know what we do not know. (We have no way of knowing how other people think and feel if their experiences are completely different than ours.)

Philosophy in 4 Questions. 7SistersHomeschool.com
Click image for full description.

BTW- It is helpful for teens to learn than presuppositions and underlying thinking patterns affect all our aspects of life. (God did make us thinking creatures, after all.) To help teens recognize and master their thoughts and catch the thinking patterns in history and culture, we taught History and Philosophy of the Western World and Philosophy in Four Questions with our teens. They liked it! (Note: our 7th Sisters like the diversity included in Mystery of History and Notgrass History. Do you have some favorite curriculums that show diversity? Add them in the comments. We love to share.)

Knowing all this, it is not surprising that many texts that are available to homeschooling families have little material on people from diverse backgrounds. By and large, history textbooks are written by white people who were educated by white professors at largely white universities.

However, the United States is not a homogenous white nation. It is a nation rich in people with differing ethnicities and experiences. In order for our homeschool high schoolers to truly understand this nation,

it is necessary, then, to inject some diverse experiences into our teens’ education. 7Sisters is working on a problem-based-learning model (popular in a number of college’s freshman year courses), diversity-rich course. Until it is ready, we can give some unit studies for your teens. We will start with a unit study for Black History Month.

Here is a one week unit study for Black History Month

In this unit study we will cover:

  • English/Language Arts
  • American History
  • Science
  • Fine Arts

Note: Log hours for activities and keep book lists so that appropriate credit can be given. (More details later in this post.) For information on logging hours, see this post.

Unit Study Goal

Add diversity awareness and aid growth in social and cultural intelligence to the high school education. This unit study will not cover the entire history of Black Americans. It will simply give a glimpse to aid perspective-taking and create openness to learning more.

At the end of the unit study, the student should be able to describe some experiences of Black Americans as well as have a better understanding of Black history and contributions in America.

BTW: The term “unit study” is another way to describe integrated learning. If you would like a more in-depth discussion on how to create integrated learning experiences for your teens or homeschool co-op, check out this post.

Methods

  • Reading real books of the student’s choice
    • with accompanying book summary, reflection paper or discussion according to student’s abilities and goals
  • Writing essay, report, research paper or short story (or combination, according to student’s goals)
  • Journalling-based learning using:
    • Media: documentary videos, television series, interviews, movies
    • Journaling
  • Fine Arts: video presentations, art projects
  • Discussions

Grading

Grading will be by assignment, with the assignment’s grades going toward the total grade for the student’s ELA, American History, Science or Fine Arts totals.

  • For books:
    • Graded assessment (from book summary, reflection paper or discussion)
  • For writing assignments:
    • Grading by rubrics given in 7Sisters materials
  • For journaling:
    • Grading by participation (were the questions answered?)
  • Fine Arts:
    • Grading by participation (was the project completed?)
  • Guided discussion:
    • Grading by participation (did the student participate?)
  • Download this freebie for grading with rubric and how-to.

Unit Study Objectives

  1. The United States is a diverse nation, unfortunately many textbooks gloss over the impact and experiences of Americans who are not White. During Black History Month, it is useful to give students and opportunity to learn about the history and experiences of Black Americans.
  2. Using a unit study approach allows students to perspective take, reflect and use critical thinking skills as they gain more social and cultural understanding and skills.

Resources

Books:

Choose one book for the week.

The book you can chose from are endless. The book should be by a Black author discussing some aspect of Black history in America or some aspect of their experiences. Chose a book that fits your homeschool high schooler’s needs, goals and abilities.

The book can be read in various formats:

  • Traditional book form
  • Audio book
  • Family read-aloud where appropriate

Novels

  • All American Boys (Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely)
  • A Raisin in the Sun (Lorraine Hansbery)
    • If your teen chooses this book, the 7Sisters study guide can be completed instead of book summary/paper)
  • Copper Sun (Sharon Draper)
  • Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison)
  • Mare’s War (Tanita S. Davis)
  • Passing (Nella Larsen)
  • Stella by Starlight (Sharon Draper) (Easier read for those with limited time or struggling readers)

Memoirs or Book/Essays

  • Barracoon (Zora Neale Hurston)
  • Becoming (Michelle Obama) There is a version for youth that is more condensed and is appropriate for unit study.
  • Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)
  • Black Boy (Richard Wright)
  • Flygirl (Sherri L Smith)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
  • I’m Still Here (Channing Brown)
  • Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson) 
  • Loving vs. Virginia (Patricia Powell)
  • Rosa Parks, My Story (Rosa Parks autobiography) (Easier read for those with limited time or struggling readers)
  • The Long Shadow of Little Rock (Daisy Bates, autobiographical story of the Little Rock Nine) (Easier read for those with limited time or struggling readers)
  • The Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson) (LONG book, but excellent read, for teens who want to extend the unit study)
  • Turning Fifteen on the Road to Freedom (Linda Blackmon Lowery) (Easier read for those with limited time or struggling readers)

Poetry

  • And Still I Rise (Maya Angelou)
  • Brown Girl Dreaming (Jacqueline Woodson)’
  • Selected Poems (Langston Hughes)

Documentaries

Movies

Fine Arts

Build perspective-taking skills with a one-week unit study for Black History Month.

Here are the lesson ideas. (BTW- to create an entire Social Studies credit, check out this post.)

Syllabus

Monday

  • Discuss with your teen the one week unit study. Read over week’s assignments together.
  • Make choices of reading material and writing assignments.
  • Begin reading and journalling assignments.

ELA Literature:
Read 1/4 of book (Books can be spread out over several weeks, if desired)

ELA Writing:

Choose the movie Hidden Figures and/or the history documentary and write an essay or journal response to these questions:

Pick a character from today’s movie and/or documentary. Think about their experiences.

  • How is their life similar to yours?
  • How is their life different than yours?
  • How do the differences they experience affect their opportunities and choices?
  • What are some things that helped them succeed?

Science:

Watch movie: Hidden Figures

History:

Choose a documentary from the list above or find one that would be meaningful to you. The movie Hidden Figures can count for History.

Fine Arts:

Pick one of the activities from the list above.

Daily Wrap Up

  • Be sure to log hours on all the activities above.
  • End of day discussion. Discuss the journaling questions together. Ask if your teen has any thoughts they would like to discuss or explore.

Tuesday

Continue reading and inquiry-based assignments.

ELA Literature:

Read 1/4 of book (Books can be spread out over several weeks, if desired)

ELA Writing:

Choose the movie Hidden Figures and/or the history documentary and write an essay or journal response to these questions:

Pick a character from the movie and/or documentary. Think about their experiences.

  • How is their life similar to yours?
  • How is their life different than yours?
  • How do the differences they experience affect their opportunities and choices?
  • What are some things that helped them succeed?

Science:

Watch YouTube from George Washington Carver National Monument.

History:

Choose a documentary from the list above or find one that would be meaningful to you.

Fine Arts:

Pick one of the activities from the list above

Daily Wrap Up

  • Be sure to log hours on all the activities above.
  • End of day discussion. Discuss the journaling questions together. Ask if your teen has any thoughts they would like to discuss or explore.

Wednesday

ELA Literature:

Read 1/4 of book (Books can be spread out over several weeks, if desired)

ELA Writing:

Choose the movie Hidden Figures and/or the history documentary and write an essay or journal response to these questions:

Pick a character from the movie and/or documentary. Think about their experiences.

  • How is their life similar to yours?
  • How is their life different than yours?
  • How do the differences they experience affect their opportunities and choices?
  • What are some things that helped them succeed?

Science:

Watch movie: This video on Mae Jemison, NASA’s first Black female astronaut, then watch her personal story, and listen to her inspirational Ted Talk on Interstellar Travel and Teamwork.

History:

Choose a documentary from the list above or find one that would be meaningful to you.

Fine Arts:

Pick one of the activities from the list above

Daily Wrap Up

  • Be sure to log hours on all the activities above.
  • End of day discussion. Discuss the journaling questions together. Ask if your teen has any thoughts they would like to discuss or explore.

Thursday

ELA Literature:

Read 1/4 of book (Books can be spread out over several weeks, if desired)

ELA Writing:

Choose the movie Hidden Figures and/or the history documentary and write an essay or journal response to these questions:

Pick a character from the movie and/or documentary. Think about their experiences.

  • How is their life similar to yours?
  • How is their life different than yours?
  • How do the differences they experience affect their opportunities and choices?
  • What are some things that helped them succeed?

Science:

Watch movie: These videos about Mark Dean a pioneer in computer technology. His story and his accomplishments.

History:

Choose a documentary from the list above or find one that would be meaningful to you.

Fine Arts:

Pick one of the activities from the list above

Daily Wrap Up

  • Be sure to log hours on all the activities above.
  • End of day discussion. Discuss the journaling questions together. Ask if your teen has any thoughts they would like to discuss or explore.

Friday

Introduction to Essay Writing
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Complete any assignments from earlier in the week.

Write a one- or two-page essay or reflection paper on the book you read this week. You can use 7Sisters Essay Writing Guides to help you through this process if you are writing an essay. A reflection paper is simply a one- or two-page journal-type response to the book (How did you feel reading the book? What did you learn? What are the characters’ similarities and differences to your experiences? What helped them succeed?)

Extra credit for leveling up

Pick a topic inspired by this unit study and write your annual research paper about it. (Note: you will need to do this after the one week unit study.)

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One Week Unit Study for Black History Month

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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