Monday, June 15, 2009

Phenomenal Jim Crow Websites

The reality of history is often difficult to present to high school students, yet it is essential to the classroom because of its ability to ignite intrinsic interest and motive civic action. With the technology available to teachers via the internet, we are better able to present history’s reality to our students.

The struggle for civil rights is an extensive and important theme that runs through US History I and US History II curriculums because it is an ongoing struggle that strives to fulfill an American vision of freedom and equality. The Encounters and Exchanges history book discussion group brought the great depth of the univeral nature of this struggle to my attention. Covering the struggles of Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, and African Americans, one of the books we studied was Kevin Boyle’s Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder During the Jazz Age. In searching the internet for sources to bring the reality of African Americans and civil rights to my students, especially the oft-overlooked presence of Northern discrimination, I found two gems:

I’d like to highlight several pieces of the sites that could be beneficial to your classroom. Both sites include narratives, personal voices detailing life in Jim Crow America. These narratives include written testimonies, audio clips, and videos, as well as photographs that bring words to life. Both sites include interactive maps that chart a wealth and variety of information in a quick and easy format for students to interpret. The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow site has maps that indicate the changing population of whites and blacks for each state and each decade. Other maps include the chilling number of white and black lynching victims. The maps on The History of Jim Crow highlight sports in Jim Crow America. By clicking on a state, you can read about the different accomplishments of African American athletes. There is also a “Jim Crow and the Supreme Court” map that indicates states (in)famous for Jim Crow judicial interpretations. By clicking on each state, a pop-up details the highlights of the case. Both sites have teacher resources that offer different activities and lesson plans.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow includes an interactive timeline. Students can click on an event and a description provides information. The site provides a student blog that is great for students to see what students outside their classroom are thinking. The site also includes interactive activities such as, “Voting, Then and Now,” which takes students through the various obstacles that prevent African Americans from voting, “Racial Realities,” which include real scenarios with audio clips of racial injustices with the law, and “Ways of Seeing,” which leads students in the analysis of controversial images.

The History of Jim Crow includes four different series of modules that are SO COOL! Students can select from “simulation,” in which students are led through a series of historically based decisions, a “cognitive organizer” in which students select terms to complete sentences, “document analysis,” in which students analyze primary sources, a “writing workshop,” which provides students with a graphic writing organizer, a “prediction center,” and a “quiz.” This site also includes a wealth of scholarly essays that are accessible to high school students. Furthermore, the site includes a list of American literature related to Jim Crow America, helpful for connecting English and history curriculums and offering enrichment reading for students.

I hope you enjoy, I certainly have!

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