This defining time in history has implications for rich interdisciplinary learning. ELA and History content standards recognize these opportunities, but formalized integration is not readily addressed in the ELA or History curriculum despite a plethora of resources. How then might teachers trouble their pedagogy to counter colorblindness in the classroom? First, as a reference point for teachers, institutions like the Southern Poverty Law Centerxii and the Equal Justice Initiativexiii are easily accessible resources that teachers can use in their curricular approach. Additionally, the National Endowment for the Arts summer institute Stony The Road We Trod: Exploring Alabama’s Civil Rights Legacyxiv provides resources and an extensive in-depth critical examination of the pre-post-Civil Rights Movement. Finally, pre-existing curriculum units like Teaching Tolerance through the Civil Rights Movement,xv integrates ELA and Social Studies curricula. As a reference point for students, background knowledge is needed to understand the conditions underpinning the novel as the era in which the novel is set predates the movement, and students need to understand familiar historical figures did not exist during this time. These are further discussed in the strategies and classroom activities section of this unit.
Common Core alignment between ELA and History objectives provides opportunities for successful cross-disciplinary engagement. In fact, manty ELA and History objectives share the same literacy standards. Both standards in this unit integrates knowledge and provides multiple entry points to achieving the unit’s overall purpose. Objectives RI-RH ground student learning in the historical context of the novel while building character analysis skills. Objective W.7.2 provides opportunities for students to reflect both ELA and History objectives by showcasing their character analysis through writing.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.3: Analyze a fictional character (through dialogue, plot, conflict, and resolution) by examining the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events). This objective will be achieved as students create character profiles.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text. This objective drives the primary purpose of the unit. This objective will be achieved as students build background knowledge of the novel’s historical era.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7: Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts. This objective will be achieved as students analyze the lyrics and connect to the historical music of the era.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content. This objective will be achieved after reading when students write a short piece about a character of their choice. The written piece should succinctly integrate their learning from Objectives RI-RH to showcase their character analysis.