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6 Ways to Engage with Black History at School

During Black History Month each February, K-12 teachers across the country take a special look at their lesson plans. Will it be a guest speaker this year, or a lecture on Harriet Tubman? Although some prominent black Americans question the need for a Black History Month, Americans as a whole think it's worth commemorating. And all cultural backgrounds can benefit by learning about the black experience--then, and now. But to really engage students, this occasion requires thoughtful planning. Here are six ideas for making black history come alive in the classroom. Move Beyond Familiar Historical Figures Alonzo Herndon While names like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. are important, they shouldn't eclipse the names of unsung black Americans. The recent success of the movie "Hidden Figures" illustrates this point well. Depending on the ages of those you teach, why not craft a lesson around black inventors--or ask students if they have a lesser-known hero they'd like to discuss? Ask a local historian for further ideas. You can even talk about and play musical excerpts by black composers. Or profile black musicians in general. The point is: get creative. Learn More About the Underground Railroad Make history come alive by seeing how former slaves escaped to freedom via the Underground Railroad.
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The 2012 State of the Union address

Last year we shared a Wordle based on the president's State of the Union address, and I thought it would be fun to do so again this year. Show this Wordle to your students to start a discussion about current civic issues. Based on the word cluster, what topics and issues were emphasized during the president's speech? Is his administration focusing on the right things? What do your students think? Wordle lets you create “word clouds,” or visual representations of text that give prominence to words that occur more frequently. If you don’t have an hour to spend watching the whole State of the Union address, you can get an idea of the main points pretty quickly by looking at the Wordle. Did you watch the State of the Union address? If you missed it, it's not too late-- watch the speech here:
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Relief efforts in Japan: How to get your students involved

On March 11, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the eastern coast of Japan, causing mass destruction and a tsunami that devastated the country. Thousands were killed in the disaster, with thousands still missing. Such a terrible event has caused people all over the world to unite in hope, prayer, and relief efforts for the Japanese people. Here at Imagine Learning, we've been collecting donations from employees to benefit the victims of the disaster, as many people are doing worldwide. But adults aren't the only ones who have been participating in relief efforts for Japan. Hundreds of elementary schools, high schools, and school districts have been showing support and sending relief in many ways, whether it's by raising money through bake sales or folding paper cranes as a symbol of hope and support.
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