Nothing like overhearing older students argue about whether Michael Jackson was white or black because they couldn't figure out if he should go on the Black History Month mini word wall. If it weren't for the books at the table, students would've come up short on names of black heroes. Typically, MLK, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Barack Obama make the list without having to look in a book. I realized they needed to expand their repertoire of black people who made or are making a difference. That's when I made the decision to whip out a project I did two years ago with my 5th graders called Post-Worthy Hero.
The 5th graders chose a famous black person from anywhere in the world that they considered worthy of being on a postage stamp. The project turned out pretty decent and the students did a good job of applying research skills and their postage stamps were creative.
This year, I'm having my 3rd-5th graders complete the project. The template I used for the 5th graders is readjusted for each grade level--all end up asking for facts, an event including year, and a justification statement as to why the individual deserves to be on a postage stamp. It's nothing fancy, but here is the link to an example.
Students will use three different resources: book, online database (World Book Online), and the Internet. Students will use each resource as a different center--15 min looking through a book, 15 minutes looking through World Book Online, and 15 minutes searching the Internet. This allows for student management by group sizes because I only have 12 computers currently and I want everyone to be able to use that resource.
The hope is that this project guides students to learn about other eras besides Civil Rights and modern day pop star singers/rappers. Having students get to know famous figures that are beginning to get lost in the shuffle--Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Duke Ellington, Joe Louis, Mahalia Jackson, Wangari Maathai, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Wilma Rudolph, Lonnie G. Johnson, Mae Jemison, Louis Armstrong--that would expand their knowledge base a considerable amount.
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