Unit 3: Young Heroes: Children of the Civil Rights Movement
Students study the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of the children who experienced its hardships, victories and defeats firsthand by reading and analyzing multiple accounts of the same event.
In this unit, students study the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of the youth and children who experienced the struggles, hardships, victories, defeats, and possibilities firsthand. Students will be challenged to analyze the key characteristics shared by children who participated in the Civil Rights Movement, particularly their courage, commitment, bravery, and unending commitment to fighting for the cause. Over the course of the unit, students will realize that through community organizing and a strong desire for justice, regular people, especially youth, were able to come together to use a variety of nonviolent tactics to fight for change, even when faced with resistance, oppression, and violence daily. The stories and experiences in the unit will highlight that the Civil Rights Movement was driven by the heroism of regular people and that anyone can participate in the fight against injustice. It is our hope that this unit, in conjunction with other units from the sequence, will empower students to notice and challenge the injustices, relying on their knowledge of history and the lessons they’ve learned from those who have fought before them.
In this unit, students refine their skills as critical consumers of texts by analyzing the point of view from which a text is written and noticing how the point of view influences what and how information is presented to a reader. Students will read multiple accounts of the same topic or event and be challenged to notice the similarities and differences in the points of view they represent and how the author uses evidence and reasons to support a particular point of view. Photographs are an important part of the texts in the unit. Students will be pushed to analyze photographs as a source of information to support an author’s point. Students will also continue to practice determining one or more main ideas of a text and explaining how they are supported by key details, summarizing a text, and explaining the relationship between one or more events or individuals in a historical text. In previous units, students focused on sharing and elaborating on their own ideas when discussing the text. In this unit students begin to build on their classmates' ideas, seeking to genuinely understand what their peers are saying by asking questions, adding on, or engaging in multiple exchanges.
In writing, students continue to build their writing fluency by writing daily in response to the Target Task. Students also continue to work on informational writing, using what they know about writing strong paragraphs to write multi-paragraph essays. The unit culminates with a short research project, allowing students to dive deeper into an event from the Civil Rights Movement.
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Book: Witnesses to Freedom: Young People Who Fought for Civil Rights by Belinda Rochelle (Puffin Books, 1993)
Book: Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories by Ellen S. Levine (Puffin Books, 2000)
Book: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose (Square Fish, Reprint edition (2010))
Book: Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery (Speak, Reprint edition (2016))
Book: Selma, Lord, Selma: Girlhood Memories of the Civil Rights Days by Frank Sikora (University Alabama Press, 1st Edition edition (1997))
Article: “Jim Crow and the Great Migration” by Jonathan Holloway, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, adapted by Newsela staff (Newsela)
Article: “Explaining the Red Summer of 1919” by Zinn Education Project, adapted by Newsela staff (Newsela)
Article: “American slavery: Separating fact from myth” by Daina Ramey Berry (The Conversation)
Article: “Reconstruction in the South” by Encyclopaedia Britannica, adapted by Newsela staff (Newsela)
Article: “Civil War: A Defining Moment in U.S. History” by Gary W. Gallagher, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, adapted by Newsela staff (Newsela)
Rubric: Grade 5 Informational Writing Rubric
Book: 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R. Smith Jr. (Roaring Brook Press)
Poem: “Day 1, Crispus Attacks (from 28 Days)” by Charles R. Smith Jr.
Poem: “Ruby Bridges: Brave Step” by Latorial Faison
Template: Poetry Brainstorm Template
Rubric: Grade 5 Narrative Writing Rubric
These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Download Cold Read Assessment
Download Cold Read Assessment Answer Key
Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit. Essential Tasks can be found in the following lessons:
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
The purpose and point of view of a text influence the type of information presented.
The main idea is the central point or big picture understanding that the reader should get from the text.
Authors use a variety of reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.
Introduce a topic and write a strong topic sentence or statement.
Group related information logically.
Develop the topic with facts, definitions, details, and quotations.
Link ideas and information using words, phrases, and clauses.
Include formatting, illustrations and multimedia to aid comprehension.
Elaborate to support ideas. Provide evidence or examples to justify and defend a point clearly.
Use specific vocabulary. Use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share their thoughts.
Build on to partner’s ideas. Seek to genuinely understand what peers are saying, and then build on.
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 3, view our 5th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
Notes to help teachers prepare for this specific unit
We believe it is especially important for teachers to develop background knowledge about both the content of the civil rights movement as well as the best practices for teaching about the civil rights movement in order to ensure students leave this unit with the right understandings. Below we provide our suggestions to help you prepare to effectively teach this unit.
Summarize and present key ideas from a historical article.
Describe the racism and oppression black people in the South faced on a daily basis.
Describe the racism and oppression black people in the South faced on a daily basis.
Defend if the children in this section share a similar or different point of view and understanding of the oppression of the time period.
Summarize how and why Barbara Johns protested against segregation in her community.
Analyze the role that the nation’s courts played in the fight for civil rights.
Debate if the children in the section would agree or disagree with the statement that “their courage made a difference not only in each of their individual lives, but for all the others who have followed,”.
Explain how the author uses evidence and reasons to support the point that school desegregation required young Negroes with courage to face the challenges and dangers of mob resistance.
Explain how Ernest uses reasons and evidence to support the idea that you can do a lot more than you think you can.
Writing – 2 days
Synthesize and analyze details from multiple texts in order to deepen understanding of a topic.
Summarize the key events of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by determining a main idea and supporting details in order to summarize a text.
Identify the central idea the author conveys in this chapter and what the central idea reveals about the author’s perspective on segregation and social injustice.
Compare and contrast Claudette’s account of what happened on March 2, 1955, with what is documented in the police report, as well as, explain why the author decides to include both versions.
Explain what the quote reveals about the author’s point of view of Claudette and how the author supports his point of view.
Explain why Claudette and Rosa Parks were perceived differently by the community and if Claudette could have been the face of the movement.
Explain the tactics and strategies the black community used to make the bus boycott a success and if all members of the community shared the same perspective.
Defend if Claudette’s actions did or did not prove that she was able to make a larger impact and that she could have been the “right” individual.
Explain what happened in Montgomery after the court decision was made and how different groups responded.
Debate if Claudette or Rosa should be remembered as the hero of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and how the perspective from which history is told has influenced our point of view.
Narrative – 4 days
Write a poem that honors the life of Claudette Colvin or Rosa Parks by using details from across texts.
Determine the main ideas the author is trying to convey about the Civil Rights Movement in chapters 5 and 6 and describe how the author uses key details to support the main idea.
Determine the main ideas the author is trying to convey about the civil rights movement in chapter 7 and describe how the author uses key details to support the main idea.
Determine the main ideas the author is trying to convey about the civil rights movement in chapter 8 and describe how the author uses key details to support the main idea.
Summarize the key events of the Road to Freedom by determining a main idea and supporting details in order to summarize a text.
Analyze why Sheyann ends with the statement “They had beaten us like we were slaves.”
Identify the central idea the author conveys and what the central idea reveals about the author’s perspective on segregation and social injustice.
Describe the real triumph of the march from Selma to Montgomery.
Explain why the author put the word “you” in italics and how it supports the author’s point of view and purpose for telling her story.
Analyze multiple accounts of the same event by noting important similarities and differences among the points of view they represent.
Synthesize and analyze details from multiple texts in order to deepen understanding of a topic.
Informative Writing – 5 days
Conduct a short research project that uses several sources to build knowledge of different aspects of a topic.
Synthesize information from the entire unit in order to create and execute a plan to fight injustice in your community.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Use underlining, quotation marks, or italics to indicate titles of works.
— Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
— Interpret figurative language, including similes and metaphors, in context.
— Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.
— Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
— Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.
— Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
— Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
— Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
— Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
— Summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence.
— Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
— Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.
— Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
— Introduce a topic clearly, provide a general observation and focus, and group related information logically; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
— Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
— Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented
— Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
— Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
— Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description, and pacing, to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
— Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
— With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
— With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.
— Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
— Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Form and use the perfect (e.g., I had walked; I have walked; I will have walked) verb tenses.
— Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tense.
— Use a comma to set off the words yes and no (e.g., Yes, thank you), to set off a tag question from the rest of the sentence (e.g., It's true, isn't it?), and to indicate direct address (e.g., Is that you, Steve?).
— Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed.
— Expand, combine, and reduce sentences for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style.
— Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 5 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
— Use common, grade-appropriate Greek and Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., photograph, photosynthesis).
— Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal contrast, addition, and other logical relationships (e.g., however, although, nevertheless, similarly, moreover, in addition).
— Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
— Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
— Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
— Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.
— Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.
— By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4—5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
— Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation.
— Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
(Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1—3 above.)
— Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
— Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
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