What is citizenship?
This question addresses the general topic and content area of the citizenship controversies of the different eras of American Citizenship through history. This question can allow for more specific focus for the teachers as they explore different citizenship issues. For issues surrounding Reconstruction, this question can evolve into how African-Americans struggled for rights and opportunities following the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments and the subsequent repressions that followed. Examining the different challenges and changes that occurred to citizenship during this time will provide students a dynamic view of this concept.
How do ideas and societies change? My students see history as a series of events that had to happen with no other possible alternatives. This can become problematic as they become unable to see the many powers changes or movements in history. This question is meant to help students see that change can occur and that change does not have to be seen as a pre-destined event. It directly applies to our topic by helping students look at the idea of how citizenship can change and can transform from being a strict and exclusionary idea as it was early in America's era. Seeing that ideas can transform through the people's work will benefit my students tremendously.
How does America change? America is definitely a nation that is constantly at change. Who gets to participate and be involved in that change can become a meaningful question to research and assess. This is also an extremely flexible question. It applies to the struggles of African-Americans Post-Reconstruction just as easily as it can be applied to immigrant struggles in the 19th Century. While this question is extremely flexible, it really gets at the heart of the conflict that this unit seeks to address. If you aren't an American living in America, what exactly are you? Or what can you do to fix that? My plan is to use this question to power the search for more information about these controversies and the legal cases and suits that emanate from them.
How do we uncover forgotten stories? This question also applies to many different topics but pushes us to research and uncover the stories behind change in history. This would be an opportunity for the students to connect the stories with the larger trends and forces that they will have learned about in their history classroom and from the textbook. This question will also allow students to build different views of history and how change occurs. I want to students to be able to see how diverse history is, and how people have impacted America as a whole. Putting their work and research into perspective will allow students to see and recognize how communities have changed and how the people who make them up connect to the events in their textbooks.
Was America better after Brown v Board? This question is the most specific to the unit. It aims squarely at the content and requires real knowledge of the systems that created and managed Segregation and the work that eventually lead to its destruction. Students will them be asked to assess their own education. For my school, this is an important question as well. We are an inter-district magnet school that aims to reconcile educational gaps through diversity and art. This question will push students to connect their own experiences with the people they are learning and reading about. How is their education different from Brown's, Sweat's, Painter's? Has America improved since
Brown v Board
? This question pushes you and your students to consider education today as well as within the historical scope of the unit.
These are the questions that will guide my unit. They are also the questions that the students will use to drive their research. As the classroom deals with these tough issues I want to be able to turn to some guiding questions to help students muddle through these difficult materials. Having these outlined and simple questions will allow for students to push through difficult legal texts and sources. In the lesson plan section, I will outline the some strategies, including some alternate strategies.