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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Black History Month

It's about time, teachers, to get ready for Black History Month; a month to celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans who have done so much to make our lives better.

Assigning your students to report on noteworthy people is fine, but, let's face it, a little boring.   Couple that with the time constraints we all face for prescribed curricula, and you have a common conundrum: how can I blend what I WANT to do with what I HAVE to do?  In the case of Black History Month, I find that poetry is a perfect way to solve it.   For example, the following poem gives you the heart of Matthew Henson.

But just reading a poem doesn't seem worthy of the study of Black History. So, I try to incorporate required curricula with some creativity. I call it Poetry Possibilities, just to remind myself that I don't have to do EVERYTHING every year. Rather, I can choose what is most appropriate to this year's class, and what appeals to me at this time. Honestly, sometimes I do all of the listed ideas; sometimes I just copy the poem and share it with my class.

As you can see, one of the things I could assign my students to do is design a postage stamp just for Matthew Henson. I was impressed to learn that there are more than 60 U.S. stamps honoring black Americans. Check it out for yourself at: 

For Black History Month, I have collected 14 poems, which means you can use 1 poem per day for nearly 3 weeks. Each is accompanied by a teaching point covering a variety of skills, including: types of poetry, poetic devices, poetic structures, choral reading, text innovations, creative writing, and a host of reading skills. Because I am committed to differentiated instruction, I have included enrichment opportunities and research topics. You will also find graphic organizers, art projects, and book links.

This is just one piece of my Black History Month poetry unit, Black History Month Poetry Possibilities. This unit has a cousin unit that is absolutely FREE, called Poetry Possibilities -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I hope they help to make your Black History study more enjoyable.

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