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Lessons

Rosa Parks: 3 Day Lesson

Overview:

These lessons start with what students know about Rosa Parks and then use a series of three primary sources to complicate that Rosa Parks’ story. Students read a sample textbook excerpt that includes the familiar narrative; then, after reading and analyzing each primary source, they consider how it compares with that narrative. Using think-alouds from the site, students see historians considering and analyzing significant passages from these documents. Finally, using evidence from both the primary sources and textbook account, students create their own brief narratives of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Learning Goals:

  • Students will develop a more complex and complete understanding of Rosa Parks and the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
  • Students will evaluate one historical narrative through comparing and cross checking multiple sources.
  • Students will write a historical narrative supported by evidence drawn from primary and secondary sources.

Notes to Teacher:
When using the lessons off-line use the document packet with reading questions. You may want to cut and paste the questions in Day one, Step 2 and hand them out to your students.

Plan of Instruction:

DAY ONE (approximately 50 minutes)
    Website Materials:
  • Textbook: "Rosa was tired: The story of the Montgomery bus boycott" by Herbert Kohl (2005).
  • "Abernathy" document
  • Video clip: think-aloud of "Abernathy"
  • Commentary on “Abernathy” think-aloud
  • Three day document chart/organizer
Step 1: 5 minutes: Introduce inquiry

Ask students: "What do you know about the role Rosa Parks played in the Montgomery Bus Boycott?" Write student answers on board.

Step 2: 10 minutes: Read textbook
    Have students independently read the textbook passage and answer the following questions:
  1. Who wrote this account? Why might we call it the standard or popular account?
  2. According to the textbook:
    • Who was Rosa Parks?
    • How did the African American community in Montgomery respond to her arrest? Provide a quotation from the textbook to support your answer.
    • What role did Rosa Parks play in the Montgomery Bus Boycott?
  3. What additional information, outside of that provided by the textbook, would you need to answer (c) more completely?
Step 3: 5 minutes: Discuss and introduce “narrative” (whole class)

Review answers. Ask class: "How does the textbook account confirm or challenge the stories (or narratives) and details about Rosa Parks that we have on the board?"

Define historical narrative as a story about what happened in the past based on historical evidence. Ask students what evidence might have been used to support the textbook’s narrative. Ask them to consider, hypothetically, what other types of evidence would either support or contradict this narrative. For example, what if they found a piece of evidence that showed Rosa Parks had been arrested for refusing to give up her seat many times before (emphasize that this is hypothetical). How might that piece of evidence change their narrative?

Explain that for the next two days students will develop their own narrative (or story) of Rosa Parks and the bus boycott based on the documents they examine.

Step 4: 15 minutes: Read and analyze document

Students individually read "Abernathy" and answer notebook questions.

Step 5: 5 minutes: Discuss (whole class)
    Questions for discussion:
  • Who is Abernathy? What role did he seem to play in the Montgomery Bus Boycott?
  • What/how does this piece of evidence add to our understanding of the Montgomery Bus Boycott?
  • What does Abernathy say about Rosa Parks? How does this support, contest, or extend the narrative we know about Rosa Parks?
Step 6: 5 minutes: Play think-aloud and commentary

Play historian think-aloud on "Abernathy" document twice. Then play commentary. Hand students printed copy of commentary.

Step 7: 5 minutes: Discuss (whole class)
    Questions for discussion:
  • What part of the document is the historian focusing on?
  • Why is he so surprised?

Hand out and explain document chart.

Homework:

Complete document chart for "textbook" and "Abernathy."

DAY TWO (approximately 50 minutes)
    Website Materials:
  • "Leaflet" document
  • Video clip: Think-aloud of "Leaflet"
  • Commentary of "Leaflet" think-aloud
  • Three day document chart/organizer
Step 1: 10 minutes: Review homework

Pair/share answers to document chart. Then, as a whole class, discuss: "How does the Abernathy document change our understanding of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott?"

Step 2: 10 minutes: Read document

Students read "Leaflet" document and answer questions.

Step 3: 10 minutes: Discuss (whole class)

Discuss answers. Say to students: "This document does not contain any mention of Rosa Parks, yet we can use it as evidence to help us understand the role Rosa Parks played in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. How is that possible?" Ask, "How does this support, contest, or extend what we know about Rosa Parks and the boycott?"

Step 4: 5 minutes: Play think-aloud

Show clip of historian think-aloud. Ask students: "What does the historian pay attention to? Why? According to this document, what role did Robinson play in the Montgomery Bus Boycott?"

Step 5: 5 minutes: Read commentary

Read commentary with students.

Homework:

Students independently fill out document chart for "Leaflet" document.

DAY THREE (approximately 50 minutes)
    Website Materials:
  • "Durr" document
  • Three day document chart/organizer
Step 1: 5 minutes: Review document chart

Ask student: "How have the Abernathy and Leaflet documents challenged the textbook narrative of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott?"

Step 2: 15 minutes: Read document

In small groups, students read "Durr" document and answer notebook questions. Then, still in groups, students fill in document chart for "Durr" document.

Step 3: 10 minutes: Discuss (whole class)
    Questions for discussion:
  • Revisit last question for "Durr" document: "Most textbooks refer to Rosa Parks as a tired seamstress. What image of Rosa Parks does this letter convey?" How does this compare to standard textbook depictions (as identified by Kohl) of Rosa Parks?
  • Based on these three documents, how would you tell the story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott? What does your narrative include? What evidence does it rely upon?
  • Why might the narrative of a tired seamstress igniting a massive boycott be so popular?
Step 4: 20 minutes: Student narratives

Students respond to the following prompt:

A publisher is developing a new American history textbook. They want to dedicate a special page to the “Rosa Parks’ Story.” They have asked you to write a narrative about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott for this page. The narrative must be one page long and use evidence from at least two primary sources.
Homework:

Finish narratives.