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Important Black Leaders To Introduce To Your Class Year-Round

BlackHistory_pstrSince 1976, American educators have officially recognized February as Black History month.  However, if February is the only time you mention the contributions of people of color in your classroom, then it’s time to reevaluate. Black history is integral to the story of America, a history that has for too long been skewed to reflect a white European perspective. And, while most Americans are familiar with the names of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, there are many other African American leaders who made an enormous impact on our country’s history.

Below you’ll find a short list of some of these leaders and suggestions of how to incorporate their contributions into your curriculum.  Remember that the lessons that are most meaningful to students are those that are given all year long, not just during one designated month.

7 African American Leadersx-hughes-langston-3hr-jpg

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was a writer and social activist.  He was particularly known as an innovator of jazz poetry and for his role in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s.  Hughes was one of the few black writers at the time to express pride in his heritage.  He wrote of both the joys and the pain of being black in America. Check out  Read, Write, Think for a in-depth lesson centered around his poetry.

Samuel Kountz (1930-1981) grew up in one of the poorest towns in the poorest state of Arkansas.  Although the odds were against him, Kountz became the first African American to attend the University of Arkansas Medical School. He was a pioneer in the field of organ transplants. And, in 1961, he performed the first kidney transplant between a recipient and a donor who were not identical twins. Consider using Samuel Kountz on this timeline lesson about American inventors.

Fredrick Dougwho_is_fdlass (1818-1895) was an escaped slave who became a leader of the Abolitionist Movement, eventually rising to power as the first African American to hold a high US government rank. Besides fighting for equal treatment for African Americans, he was also a champion of women’s rights. In 1848, he was the only African American to attend the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York. Urban Dreams has created a lesson plan that ties the biography of Fredrick Douglas to lessons about freedom and social development.

Emmet Chappelle (1925- ) is recognized as one of the 100 most distinguished African American scientists of the 20th Century.  His work was primarily in the field of medicine, philanthropy, food science, and Astrochemistry. Some of Chappelle’s most influential advancements were in luminescence, or, light without heat. He was able to show how satellites can monitor luminescence levels to monitor the growth rate and harvest timing of crops.   Laser Classroom has an interesting lesson about fluourescence that can be linked to a study of Chappelle’s contributions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) grew up in the streets of NYC. His difficult childhood fueled an anger in him that he channeled towards graffiti art. His cutting edge artwork propelled him to the forefront of the Neo-Expressionist movement. Graffiti Art provides a lesson plan to show students how artists like Basquiat make art accessible to everyone.

Faith Ringgold (1930 -) is a Civil Rights activist, author, and artist.  Her s999b787fd04a50ea2772189b9955c105eries of paintings-American People-capture the racial tensions of the Civil Rights Era.  Her gorgeously illustrated book, Tar Beach, gives a unique perspective of Harlem in the 1930’s through the eyes of a young girl. Here you will find a rich series of lesson plans geared towards grades 3-5 about Ms. Ringgold’s work that integrates reading, writing, social studies, and art.

Marvin Gaye (1939-1984) was a singer, songwriter and music producer. He helped shaped Motown, a rMarvinGayeecord company owned by African Americans that played an important role in the racial integration of popular music. His hit song, What’s Going On was a reaction to police violence towards protestors marching against the Vietnam War. What’s Going On Now is an excellent project that uses history and music to compare the time period that Marvin Gaye sang about to current day issues.

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to provide affordable, convenient Professional Development courses for educators. Our Inspiring Ideas for the 21st Century Classroom course features a TED talk by Rita Pierson, a prominent African American teacher and speaker. Check out this class and many others in our course catalog!

Getting Creative with Field Trips

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear brown bag lunches, matching t-shirts, bus rides, and chaperones? FIELD TRIP! The yearly field trip is a chance for freedom and a time to get away from the day-to-day and experience something nSchool Trip - Berlinew. Many teachers fall into a rut, going to the same place every year. Incorporating art is a great way to jazz up your field trip! Art-based field trips can often be cheaper and more inspirational than more traditional outings.

Here are some destinations that will provide your students with a whole new perspective on life!

MUSEUM

Viewing great works of art can inspire an interest in even the novice critic.  Many Pmuseums have programs specifically designed for field trips that guide groups through designated areas and point out interesting facts. These can be very helpful and require almost no work for the teacher, but there are ways to make them even more stimulating! Consider making a student scavenger hunt for featured pieces. Divide all kids into groups and give each group a different list of art to locate and report back on. You could even theme each group (find landscapes, portraits, sculptures, etc.) and have them solve a riddle or puzzle. To assist you in creating a scavenger hunt, reference the museums’ website for a list of their inventory and any special exhibits or upcoming features. Parents.com offers a list of the best art museums for kids, along with a description of what makes each of these museums accessible and interesting to the younger crowd. If you don’t have an art museum near you, any museum will do.  In college, I was assigned to go to the Natural History Museum in Pittsburgh and design a sculpture from a dinosaur bone. I had never considered such a thing and it really opened my eyes to a whole new place of inspiration. There is art everywhere!

SHOW

What do drama, dance, and music all have in common? They are all forms of art in motion. Having students draw the climax or major turning point in a play can help them remember it. If you are going to see the Phantom of the Opera as a class, coordinate with the art teacher to provide extra credit opportunities for students to do research on the theater or draw an interesting architectural detail they found in the opera house. Have students create an abstract work inspired by one particular song from the musical. They could design alternate costumes for a modern day ballet or make a flip book showing movement from a stack of post-it notes. The possibilities are endless. Check out our Teaching Drama Across the Curriculum Course for some ideas of how to make the performing arts an integral part of your lessons.

NATURE

YIn every state and every town in America you’ll find parks and green spaces to explore. Some of the best and most famous painters got all the inspiration they needed from the great outdoors. Impressionists like Claude Monet made their life’s work outdoors. They experienced certain challenges when creating art outdoors with temperature and light changes, along with wind and rain. Giving your students a few hours to explore and create awesome things in nature will heighten their awareness of the beauty all around them. Team up with the history teacher and do some research on how your local park started or do a joint lesson about the majestic landscapes that the early American painters like Thomas Cole created. Don’t forget to have each student bring a sketchbook and pens to take notes and make drawings of something interesting they’ve found. The Minnesota Department of Art Resources provides a helpful list of ideas to interweave art and music with nature and environmental studies.

INDUSTRY

My favorite episode of Mr. Rogers was when they went to the Crayola Crayon factory to see how crayons are made. There are tons of factories and plants that invite kids to come check out how things are built or processed. Team up with your science teacher and see how water is treated in your local city or take a trip to the recycling center. Bring back what you learned by creating a bulletin board summarizing the process for the whole school. Another great idea is to make your next art project out of all recyclable materials. Try making beautiful Chihuly inspired sculptures out of painted water bottles. (Look at all of these projects for kids inspired by Chihuly on Pinterest). Check your county website for interesting ideas about the industry that surrounds you.

VIRTUAL

Not every art teacher or classroom can afford to go somewhere for a field trip, but that shouldn’t limit your learning. There are tons of online resources to check out and explore a kids computerfaraway place. No public school can afford to send all of their students to Paris to see the Louvre and the amazing pieces of art it holds, but why not look at the Mona Lisa right in the museum from the computer lab? Almost every museum website features some sort of online gallery. A great place to start is by taking a virtual tour of the National Gallery of Art.

Whatever route you opt for, incorporating art into your next field trip will enrich the experience for your students.  The Teacher’s Academy is a proud supporter of the arts in education.  Check out the Art/Music section of our course catalog to find a list of classes to help you weave the arts into your classroom.  Start earning Professional Development classes the affordable, convenient way with The Teacher’s Academy.

Getting to Know Your Students Through Art

 

Getting to know your students through Art                                                                      paint hands

Our most important duty during these first few weeks is to get to know all these bright new faces sitting in front of us. All of your students will bring their unique stories and personalities into your classroom and it is your job to figure them out.  How will they learn? What are their likes and dislikes? What is their home life like? Will they respond to you? AHH! There is so much to figure out and so little time to do it. Instead of giving them a 100-point questionnaire, consider utilizing a few of these art activities. You might learn more things about your group than you thought you would! Oh, and it might actually be fun! Who would have dreamt it?

Name that Kid

The dreaded “name game.”  As classroom sizes inflate each year, teachers are challenged to find new ways to log their kids in the old memory bank. Of course there are always THOSE students who are burned into your brain almost instantaneously— the little boy that tells you he likes to eat boogers for breakfast or the little girl who blurts out how she likes to put makeup on her dad. Regardless, how are you to remember the other 28 kids staring back at you on the first week of school? Or even worse, what if you are a special area subject teacher that only sees these kids for an hour once a week or on Day 6? The task can seem pretty daunting.  One way that helped me on the first day was to have each child create his or her own nameplate. Jazz up the classic table tent or folder with a few of these variations.

  • Have the children turn the letters of their name into favorite things. For example, have each letter reflect something about themselves: a favorite animal, food, season of the year, subject in school, after-school activity, etc.
  • For younger children, print out blank bubble letter versions of their name and ask the kids to fill them in using stickers, cut-outs or stamps.  Each day of the first week, pose a question to the students and have them use their bubble letter name plates to answer it. The repeated exposure will help both you and your students identify names and provide associations with their favorite things. Check out Woo Junior for some great printable letter templates.
  • For slightly older children, ask the students to pick a “spirit animal” or an animal that best represents them. Then, ask the kids to pick their favorite color and an adjective that best describes themselves. Challenge them to incorporate all of these ideas into a picture with the first letter of their name.  By the end of the first day, you will have a bulletin board full of dancing horses with pink hair and skateboarding bears with blue sunglasses. By reviewing these names and drawings frequently, you will actually create a memory device to help you learn about your kids!

Under Your Roof

Finding out about students’ home life can help teachers a great deal. One of the best ways to learn about what is going on at home is to have your kids draw their families. Art therapists and child psychologists have long used children’s drawings to help analyze their feelings about a situation. Some characteristics may be exaggerated or left out and can house artgive insight into what a child views as valuable.

  • Fold a paper inward and cut the upper corners to make a house shape and have the children fill it with their family, pets, and favorite things.
  • Don’t forget to have them draw themselves in the portrait. If there is something alarming about their picture, seek counsel from a professional.
  • For older kids, ask them to draw a typical day in their house with their family or make up a cartoon where everyone in the house makes an appearance.

Learning about their home life will at least give you an idea if there are specific challenges your students are facing each day. Knowing that a child shares a room with a younger sibling or splits time between divorced parents may help avoid awkward exchanges and give insight into everyday struggles.  There are websites such as this one which can be helpful in analyzing your students’ psychological status, but always consult a professional if you have serious concerns.

My Superhero Alter Ego

art suppliesWho hasn’t fantasized about having secret superpowers? Personally, I’ve dreamt about teleportation on just about every Friday afternoon commute. This is a great activity for all ages with a few modifications. Challenge your students to draw their future selves as working adults. They can pick any career and environment that they want. Encourage them to dream about what they want to be when they grow up with no limitations or barriers. Then, have them draw their Alter Ego Superhero self (think Clark Kent/Superman).  They will need to be specific about their special powers and at least one weakness.

  • Encourage them to use details in their drawing like making their cape a favorite color, a poster in the background with their favorite pop star, or perhaps their favorite food on their desk at work.
  • Descriptive drawing is just as important as descriptive writing so have them tell you all about their characters by writing about them.
  • Questions such as, “If I could solve one problem in the world it would be…” can provide interesting responses and may even reveal a specific passion or emotion in some kids.
  • In order to make this a little easier on students, provide blank templates or drawings of people that they would need to change or add details to.
  • For small children, give choices or ideas about what sort of powers there are and what they could help solve.  You could prompt them to discover what their “kryptonite” is by giving them examples of unappetizing foods or unpleasant weather situations.

Believe it or not, a Superhero can tell you a lot about what someone values and fears. Be prepared to be asked what your superpower is as well.  It might help to come to school with your cape in hand that day. It shouldn’t be too difficult, since being a teacher gives you instant superhero status!  Have a great year!

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Enjoy!