For many students, the end of February means the end of a focus on learning about Black history. But with the right resources and a shift in perspective, teachers can help expose students to Black excellence all year.
To explore making this shift, I brought together education thought leaders Ken Shelton, Natasha Rachell, Yaritza Villalba, and children’s book author Keila Dawson to get their ideas on infusing Black history into the curriculum in culturally responsive ways. (Be sure to watch the panel replay if you missed it!)
From their insights, I’ve put together 4 ways to create year-round Black history exploration.
1. Use storytelling to share new perspectives
With just one short month to shine a light on Black history and culture, many important stories don’t get told.
That’s what prompted Keila to write her new picture book, Opening the Road. It’s a story about Victor Hugo Green, the ingenious Black postal worker whose Green Book guide helped make travel safer for Blacks during the early- to mid-20th Century.
2. Expose students to successful people from diverse backgrounds
When students learn about leaders who have different personal stories and perspectives, they see anyone can succeed in any field. When they’re exposed to these leaders in a virtual reality, it can become even more real.
To get her students engaged in STEM, Digital Learning Specialist Natasha co-created Lessons in Good Trouble for Minecraft: Education Edition, with Ken Shelton and Felisa Ford. These lessons —now the No. 1 download in Minecraft! — feature tour guide John Lewis, a civil rights activist, taking students through environments that feature Martin Luther King, Malala, Ghandi, and others as they explore equity and social justice.
(Note: These resources can be used by anyone, even outside of Minecraft, and include everything you need to explore the topic of social justice, including videos, resources, and vocabulary.)
3. Expand your own learning journey
We learned from our panelists that depending on what they were exposed to as students. even educators can have gaps in their understanding of Black history,
To be sure you have the knowledge and sensitivity to teach in culturally responsive ways, Ken suggests taking the anti-racism journey for educators with students on Microsoft Educator Center. This professional development can help you begin the work that is uncomfortable but necessary.
4. Borrow lessons and resources from the Flipgrid community
There’s no shortage of help available as you work toward culturally responsive teaching. Yaritza has compiled an impressive collection of more than 40 lessons on the subject — lessons she’s shared with educators around the world.
In addition to Yaritza’s lessons, the Celebrating Black History Collection can be used 365 days a year. Let your students explore it, and get families involved.