How to use 306 in your classroom for Black History Month as well as year-round
How to use 306 in your classroom for Black History Month as well as year-round
306 (three-oh-six). You may wonder how these numbers symbolize the extraordinary history of African Americans in our country. From “Group 306” which was birthed during the Harlem Renaissance by the talented artists of the time; to room 306, Dr. King’s preferred room at Lorraine Motel in Memphis; to March 6th, the day the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Dred Scott v. Sanford Case. This simple 3-digit number symbolizes the often-forgotten stories that have helped define us as a country.
What is EVERFI’s 306 course and how does it help?
While Black History Month gives us dedicated time to highlight some of the amazing stories of people like Madam C.J. Walker, Booker T. Washington, and Mae Jemison, the history of these unsung heroes should not be related only in the month of February. Black History is American History and as such, should be taught all year round. EVERFI offers the resources to help make this a reality. The 306 and 306: Continuing the Story courses offer free Black History lessons that help tell the stories of the past and present. These resources make year-long Black History education possible. While the recognition of Black History has come a long way since its inception, there is still an opportunity to include it in various lessons throughout the school year.
From 306 to 365 (days)
One reason why it is important to learn about Black History all year long is that it helps to promote understanding and acceptance among people of different races. By learning about the struggles and triumphs of black people, we can gain a greater appreciation for the diversity of human experience and better understand the perspectives of others (Williams, 2021). This can lead to increased empathy and understanding among people of different races and can help to promote a more inclusive and harmonious society.
In addition to promoting understanding and acceptance, learning about Black History all year long can also help to combat racism and discrimination. By understanding the history of discrimination and oppression faced by black people, we can better recognize and challenge systems of inequality in the present. This can help to create a more just and equitable society for all people.
Black History Month in Schools
Despite the importance of learning about Black History, it is often overlooked or underrepresented in education. In many schools, Black History is only briefly touched upon, if at all, outside of Black History Month. This not only denies students the opportunity to learn about the rich history and contributions of black people but also reinforces the idea that Black History is somehow separate or less important than mainstream American history. By making Black History a part of the curriculum all year long, teachers can help to challenge this notion and ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn about and appreciate the significance of Black History.
The lack of knowledge about Black History can have negative consequences for both individuals and society. For individuals, it can lead to a lack of understanding and appreciation for the experiences and contributions of black people. This can in turn lead to stereotypes and biases and can perpetuate racism and discrimination. On a societal level, a lack of knowledge about Black History can contribute to a lack of progress and understanding in addressing issues related to race (Johnson, 2019). Without a full understanding of the history and context of these issues, it can be difficult to effectively address them and work toward a more just and equitable society.
Why Learning Black History is Important
Teachers have a critical role to play in combating the lack of knowledge about Black History. There are many reasons why learning Black History is important. First and foremost, it helps to promote understanding and awareness of the diverse experiences and perspectives of black individuals. By learning about the challenges and triumphs of black individuals throughout history, students can gain a deeper understanding of the world around them and develop empathy and compassion for others.
In addition to promoting understanding and empathy, learning Black History can also help students develop a sense of pride and belonging. For black students, seeing their own history and culture represented in the curriculum can be empowering and help them feel a sense of connection to their heritage. For non-black students, learning about Black History can help them understand and appreciate the rich cultural contributions of black individuals and communities.
But how can teachers effectively teach Black History all year long?
Here are a few suggestions:
Incorporate Black History into existing lesson plans
One way to teach Black History is simply incorporate it into existing lesson plans. For example, a history teacher could discuss the role of black individuals in key historical events, or an English teacher could include works by black authors in their reading lists.
Create interdisciplinary units
Another option is to create interdisciplinary units that focus on Black History. These units can include a variety of subjects, such as art, music, and literature, and can allow students to explore different aspects of Black History in greater depth.
Engage students in research and discussion
Teachers can also encourage students to engage in research and discussion around Black History. This can include having students conduct research projects on black historical figures or events, or facilitating class discussions about the impact of Black History on society.
Encourage students to create their own content
Teachers can also encourage students to create their own content related to Black History. This can include writing essays or creating art, music, or other multimedia projects that reflect their own interpretations and understandings of Black History.
It is essential that teachers make a concerted effort to teach Black History all year long in order to promote understanding and diversity in the classroom. By incorporating Black History into existing lesson plans, creating interdisciplinary units, engaging students in research and discussion, and encouraging students to create their own content, teachers can create a more inclusive and empowering learning environment for all students.
Using EVERFI’s Resources
As mentioned, EVERFI offers the resources to help make year- long Black History Education possible. In my role as a Middle School DEIB Coordinator, I have the privilege of overseeing two student affinity groups. These groups are the People of Color affinity group and the Black Student Affinity Group. Once a month, I have students independently complete an assigned lesson from either 306 or 306: Continuing the Story. We then sit in a circle and I use the time to debrief what we just learned. EVERFI makes this extremely easy by providing discussion guides for each lesson. The questions are great for sparking rich and deep discussions, but are equally as effective as independent reflection questions. The low-prep time it takes to use the resources make it that much sweeter.
How non-Humanities Subjects Can Incorporate Black History into their Curriculum
Don’t teach humanities? When you don’t teach History or English, it can be difficult to come up with ways to authentically incorporate Black History into your everyday curriculum. For my non-Humanities, folks, here are a few tips to make things easier. Pairing these tips with EVERFI’s resources can help you create a culturally responsive and inclusive classroom.
- Focus on the works of black musicians: Music teachers can incorporate the works of black musicians into their lessons and discuss the historical and cultural context in which these works were created. For example, teachers can discuss the role of jazz music in the Harlem Renaissance or the influence of blues music on rock and roll.
- Engage with the music of specific historical periods or events: Music teachers can also focus on the music of specific historical periods or events, such as the civil rights movement or the Black Lives Matter movement. This can help students understand the cultural and political context in which the music was created and how it reflects the struggles and experiences of black individuals.
- Introduce students to a variety of musical styles and traditions: Music teachers can expose students to a range of musical styles and traditions that have been developed and influenced by black communities, including gospel, hip hop, and R&B. This can help students understand the diversity and complexity of black musical traditions.
- Encourage students to create their own music: Music teachers can also encourage students to create their own music inspired by Black History and culture. This can help students develop a deeper understanding of the music and its significance, and also give them an opportunity to express themselves creatively.
- Facilitate discussions and research projects: Music teachers can facilitate class discussions and research projects centered on Black History and music. This can include having students research and present on black musicians or specific musical traditions, or engaging in class discussions about the impact of black music on society.
- Include artists from different time periods and art movements, such as Harlem Renaissance artists like Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, or contemporary artists like Kehinde Wiley and Kara Walker. By studying the art and lives of these artists, students can learn about the unique perspectives and experiences of black individuals and the ways in which their art has contributed to the broader art world.
- Focus on specific historical events or periods in Black History. For example, you could have students create art that reflects the civil rights movement or the Black Lives Matter movement. This can help students understand the ongoing struggles for equality and justice that have been faced by black individuals throughout history, and encourage them to think critically about current social and political issues.
- Engage with Black History through research projects and discussions. This can include having students research and present on black artists or historical events, or engaging in class discussions about the impact of Black History on the art world and society at large.
- Incorporating biographies of Black mathematicians into your lessons. For example, they could introduce students to the work of Benjamin Banneker, a self-taught mathematician who made important contributions to astronomy and surveying in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Teachers could also introduce students to more recent Black mathematicians, such as Katherine Johnson, who made critical calculations for NASA during the Space Race.
- Highlighting the contributions of Black mathematicians to specific mathematical concepts or fields. For example, they could discuss the work of David Blackwell, who made significant contributions to the fields of probability and statistics.
- Math teachers can also use real-world examples to connect math to Black History. For example, they could discuss how math was used in the civil rights movement, such as in the strategy and organization of boycotts and protests. This can help students see how math can be used for social justice and empowerment.
- Discuss the contributions of Black scientists and inventors. Science teachers can highlight the contributions of Black scientists and inventors, such as George Washington Carver, Percy Julian, and Patricia Bath, to give students a more complete understanding of the field’s history.
- Teach about the impact of science on Black communities: Science has had a significant impact on Black communities, both positive and negative. For example, scientists have developed life-saving medical treatments that have benefited Black people, but Black communities have also been disproportionately affected by environmental injustices, such as the toxic effects of pollution. Science teachers can discuss these issues and encourage students to think critically about the ways in which science intersects with social and political issues.
- Use diverse teaching resources: Science teachers can use a variety of teaching resources, such as books, articles, and videos, that feature Black scientists and that present a diverse range of perspectives. This can help to create a more inclusive and representative learning environment for all students.
- Encourage student research and discussion: Encourage students to do their own research on Black scientists and the impact of science on Black communities. This can help to promote critical thinking and facilitate meaningful discussions about these topics.
I am a 6th-year educator at Charles Wright Academy. I teach 7th and 8th-grade science and also serve as the middle school’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging coordinator. As the DEIB coordinator, I focus on building a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for our students through programming, dialogue, and affinity groups.
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