Lesson 1: The Problem We All Still Live With?
Rationale: The purpose of this lesson is to elicit students' understanding of the history of school desegregation in the U.S. Through a Norman Rockwell painting and the story of Ruby Bridges-the sole African American child to attend a New Orleans elementary school after court-ordered desegregation in 1960-students are introduced to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case and the subsequent conflict over school integration. Students are asked to consider whether or not, 50 years after the historic court ruling, they think segregation and unequal opportunity are still problems in U.S. schools.
Other Materials: The Problem We All Live With, Background reading on Ruby Bridges, LCD or overhead projector, chart paper, markers
Time: One class period or 45 minutes
Techniques and Skills: analyzing visual art, connecting past to present, historical understanding, large and small group discussion, reading skills
Key Words: civil rights, desegregation, equal opportunity, integration, segregation
1. Project a copy of the Norman Rockwell painting, The Problem We All Live With, so that all students can clearly view it. During this first part of the lesson, do not provide students with any background information about the painting. Pose some of the following questions in order to engage students in a discussion:
2. After about 10-15 minutes of discussion, provide students with brief background information about the painting (see Discussing The Problem We All Live With). Ask students if they understand what the words segregation, desegregation, and integration mean, and define these terms together (see Definitions). Ask students if they know what prompted the initial stages of school integration in our country. Make sure that students are aware of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, but do not go into a lot of detail about the case at this time. Provide students with background information about the story of Ruby Bridges as a follow-up to the Rockwell painting and to place the issue of school integration in a personal context. Several sources are listed below, which can be used for large/small group reading or assigned as independent research/homework, depending upon your time constraints and the abilities of your students.
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