In March, our sixth graders began with a short unit about slavery, the era of Reconstruction, the Jim Crow period and ended with the Little Rock 9. The students will learn a lot more about this history in 7th grade, but we needed to have some background knowledge before we really got started.
This was all really important information to accompany our fabulous class novel, The Lions of Little Rock. If you haven’t read the novel already, you might want to borrow it while we are in Alabama!
One of the most interesting activities we worked on was a “Gallery Walk.” Ahead of time, I put up images from the Jim Crow Era. They were provocative, to say the least. Students were asked to view each image and then pick one to three to write reactions to in their journals. Students were silent and wrote some incredible, heartfelt journal entries. I can honestly say that sitting together in front of different dreadful images and writing about our feelings was a powerful introduction to the pain that the Jim Crow Era caused.
This wasn’t an easy lesson to teach but it was an incredible learning experience for all of us.