4ALL: Why Do We Celebrate Black History Month?

A few years back, a male student asked me why we were celebrating Women’s History Month. I responded, “Because every other month is men’s history month.”

Before the boys in my classroom could celebrate too much, I had to explain my statement. I asked the class to flip through our American history text books. Aside from a few inserts here and there, the overwhelming majority of the people featured were white (mostly rich) men. This led me to make the connection to Black History Month which was very important to my students who were 90% African American. Black history was just as neglected or even trivialized as the history of women in our textbooks

Black History Month and other heritage months are not meant to hold certain minorities above other ethnic or gender groups. Heritage months are meant as a way to level the playing field and call attention to portions of our history which are typically ignored.

The goal is for these heritage months to become obsolete when we give proper coverage throughout the year. Sadly, this is currently not the case. Out history is still told through a limited perspective and subjects. Heritage months like Black History Month are necessary to combat this misrepresentation of our collective history.

For more information on the representation of groups and perspectives in our history textbooks, I highly recommend Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen. For a comprehensive and all-encompassing record of American history, read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

Thursday’s Tip: Teach Black History Year-Round

Image part of public domain. Source: Wiki Commons

Black History Month celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans. That history is part of the greater American history and a month is just not enough time to give this part of our history its due attention. There are some things one can do to insure that Black History is more than one month and a part of your regular history curriculum.

A great way to make history come alive for your students in general is to highlight a historical event for each day. Yenoba.com provides a searchable calendar of African American history. One can search by date or keyword. Within this calendar you will find important achievements, difficult struggles overcome, and great leaders in Black history. By default, the site displays an interesting fact for the current day, but one can scroll down and search the entire calendar.

One struggle teachers have is staying true to history and not allowing our own biases or lack of knowledge to interfere with the information we provide our students. A great way to combat this is to use primary sources. Loads of primary resources can be found at the Library of Congress website. Many of the featured sections include links to resources that specifically address Black history.

A major theme of Black History Month is the fight for change and justice in the face of institutional racism. Social justice is a theme that can run throughout the year and doesn’t have to be limited to just 28 days (or 29, depending on the year). ¬†Great professional resources are available for educators to help make social justice a part of any curriculum. Rethinking Schools Online is the website for the highly influential educational journal by the same name that focuses on social issues in education. Teaching Tolerance is another journal with a similar focus. Teaching for Change is an organization that provides publications and professional development for educators looking to make social justice a part of their curriculum year-round.

What do you do in your classroom to insure that Black history is a part of the entire year and not just one month?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: The Smithsonian’s Black History Month

The Smithsonian is one of our cherished institutions. These museums tell the American story like no other. The site the museum has dedicated to Black History Month contains a wealth of information for this heritage month.

The site provides a comprehensive list of events in both Washington, D.C. and all over the nation. If you are unable to make it to any of these events, the museum provides an African American Cultural Heritage Virtual Tour, a multimedia virtual field trip that include a vast array of information and narratives. The educator’s resources provide biographical stories of some great African Americans, primary historical documents from important events in American history, and media that tells the story in a way a book just cannot do.

If you are interested in keeping up with what the Smithsonian has in store for all heritage months, there is a subscription service.

Nearly all of one’s needs for Black History Month resources can be found in this one site. What tools are you using to insure that Black History Month gets the appropriate treatment in your school?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

Black History Month (Week)

Here at Networked Teaching & Learning, we’re taking a different approach to our topics. With Black History Month coming (all of February), we’re dedicating this week to resources and tips relating to the month. Be sure to check in throughout as we provide online tools, resource links, and teaching tips to help you with your Black History Months needs.

In the meantime, check out the news from eMINTS and eLearning…

Friday was the last day to sign up for the eMINTS Winter Conference. If you missed the deadline, were unable to attend this year, or want keep track of the many great presentations at this year’s conference, check out our conference blog.

Congratulations to Bolivar Intermediate School (MO) for SMART Designation: Bolivar Intermediate School (where all teachers are eMINTS4ALL trained and 4th grade teachers are certified eMINTS Comprehensive teachers) was just chosen by SMART to be an Elite SMART School.

SMART announced a new initiative exclusively for SMART Showcase Schools. Beginning this year, 25 SMART Showcase Schools have been selected as Elite for the duration of the calendar year. These selections were made based on the annual survey data collected throughout October and November last year. SMART Showcase Elite Schools are those that have demonstrated an exceptional commitment in using a wide range of SMART products in the majority of classrooms to create appealing, interactive learning environments that increase student engagement and improve learning outcomes. Educators and administrators at SMART Showcase Elite Schools have shared their results and experiences with their local education community by consistently hosting visitors who are interested in learning more about SMART. They have also been active members of SMART learning communities, such as SMART User Groups, the SMART Exemplary Educator Program, and SMART Exchange, in an effort to constantly improve and share their SMART skills.

Each of the 2011 SMART Showcase Elite Schools will receive a recognition package, including a SMART Board 885ix interactive whiteboard system and a commemorative plaque. Throughout 2011, these Elite Schools will be eligible for hardware and software donations on new SMART products as they come to market. SMART requires each Elite School to act as the host site for a SMART Open House event in 2011. A SMART Open House is a time for the Elite School to share their SMART success story with other educators in the local area who may be interested in learning how SMART products and services can improve teaching and learning.

For more information on the program or to apply to become a SMART Elite School see: www.smarttech.com/see.

e-Learning for Educators Winter Semester Registration Extended: Registration for the Winter Semester has been extended to January 26, 2011. Check out the new e-Learning for Educators website and see what is available for Winter Semester. Visit http://www.elearningmo.org/ and learn about how the program works, discounts available, and information about graduate credit. Courses will begin February 2, 2011.