Civil Rights “Living the Story”

Civil Rights Webquest (provided by KET – Kentucky Educational Television ket.org)
As part of the Living the Story project, Jean McComb of the Kentucky Department of Education has developed a multi-part webquest for middle and high school students in which, working individually and in teams, they research life in their community during the civil rights era, take part in a role-playing discussion about civil rights issues based on their research, and create individual and group presentations on what they have learned. This page summarizes the classroom project and its educational objectives. The evaluation page gives specifics about assessment and includes additional hints for the teacher.Students taking part in the webquest should first read the historical background, then the detailed instructions. Both students and teachers may consult the webquest resources page for web sites, publications, and videos that will help in the research phase.

Project Summary

For this webquest, students work in teams of seven. Each member of the team is assigned a particular “role” from the following list:

  • Black Panther Party member
  • white business owner
  • white mother of two
  • black university student
  • black high school student
  • black professional woman
  • town mayor

In the first phase of the webquest, each student researches what life was like for a person fitting his or her assigned profile during the civil rights era (approximately mid-1960s). Then the team members meet for a role-playing exercise in which they discuss, from their assigned perspectives, what a recently integrated elementary school should do in response to a race-related rock-throwing incident in which one child was slightly injured. The group writes a report with its recommendation.

After the discussion, the students create individual presentations reflecting on what they have learned and relating it to incidents and issues that affect their lives today. Then the group members come back together to share these individual pieces and combine them into a final group project giving an overall picture of life in their community during the civil rights era. The final projects are to be presented to the class as a whole.

Guiding Questions

After the final portfolio pieces are submitted, the teacher will conduct an in-depth discussion on the following questions:

  1. How have I changed the way I think about other people?
  2. What other groups of people are treated unfairly in our schools?
  3. How does the civil rights movement relate to gender, religion, ability, age, socioeconomic status, and ethnic background?
  4. Why are equity and civil rights such difficult issues to resolve in our society today?
  5. Why are assumptions dangerous? What sometimes results from poor assumptions?
  6. What events in the news over the past five years relate to some of the same issues studied in our unit on civil rights?

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