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This Rosa Parks history lesson incorporates reading comprehension as well


Language Arts, Social Studies  


4, 5, 6  


Title – Rosa Parks – History with integrated literature
By – Mandy Roman
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts
Grade Level – 4 – 6


  • two different colors of stickers
  • reading passage on Rosa Parks (one for each student and an overhead copy)

Before Class:

      Take away 5 to 10 of the desks and put them on the side of the room so the students cannot sit in them. You will give them a certain colored sticker as they walk in the room. (for this you will need stickers of two different solid colors such as green and blue.) One color will be the “minority” group and one will be the “majority” group.
    You will also need phony teaching materials. You will pretend to teach on something for about five minutes. Make sure you include pictures that only the front rows will be able to see and require the students to write on a piece of paper, such as taking notes.

1. Pre-Reading Activities:

      a. As the students come in, tell the “green stickers” (or whatever you choose as “minority”) to sit anywhere in the back two rows. Then tell the “blue stickers” (“majority”) to sit wherever they want in the front rows, but not in the back two. (As they come in if you are using stickers this would be the time to stick them on) Make sure you have less “minorities” than “majorities”, but enough “minorities” so that there are at least two minorities that get a desk.


      b. Now as the desks fill up and there is no more room, make the “green stickers” give their seats to the “blue stickers. Have the “green stickers” stand in the back of the room behind the desks.


      c. After all the students are in the classroom, begin teaching your lesson. Tell the students to get out a sheet of paper and take notes, but don’t let the ones in the back use a desk, they must stand and write. Start teaching, speaking softly and showing your small pictures down low to the front rows, tell the students the information may be on a test.


      d. After about five minutes, tell the students that this was a pretend lesson and that it actually has to do with your real lesson. Put the desks back correctly.


    e. Explain to the students that this is what it felt like to be a minority. Today we are going to learn about a woman named Rosa Parks. She was a victim of racism because she was a minority. Back in the early 1900s not many people had cars, so they had to take the bus. However, black people had to sit in the back and if a white person got on and there were no seats left, the black person had to give up their seat and get off the bus. Ask the students if they think this is fair. Ask how they felt being excluded from the “blue sticker” group. You could also have the students do a reflection in their journal about this experience from their perspective of the activity (“minority” or “majority”) and then how they think the other group felt. They could also reflect on how they think Rosa Parks felt after you go through the passage with them.

2. Reading:

      a. Tell the students they will read a passage about Rosa Parks. While they are reading it, they will create a time line of her life and the events that occurred in it. Demonstrate the beginning of the time line by reading the first paragraph and putting the information from it onto the time line. I suggest having the story on an overhead so you don’t have to pass it out right away and the students won’t be fidgeting with their papers and getting ahead of you.


    b. Hand out the story to the students. Now direct the students to read the passage and do the time line on their own.

3. Post-Reading:

      a. Now have the students get into pairs and share their timelines with each other and fill in any missing information.


      b. Have the students put away their timelines. Draw a timeline on the board and have the students go through it and recall all the things that they can onto the board. (you can let the students come up and write their statements on the timeline because most students enjoy writing on the board and it will keep them more involved)


    c. After you are finished allow them to take out the passage and their timelines and see if they forgot anything.


    I would assess the student’s journal entries, the timelines they completed, and the oral presentation of what they learned by watching them do the class activity of trying to remember the timeline.

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