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Shaping History

Yvonne Yates
Director of School Services, KLRN

Past events have helped shape our country to be what it is today. Students will often ask you “Why are we learning this?” In regards to the subject of history, the typical answer is “so history will not repeat itself.”

February is “Black History Month,” a time to commemorate African Americans who have shaped history. This celebration began in 1926 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, of Harvard, initiated “Negro History Week.” Dr. Woodson, who was a historian, chose the second week in February because it included the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. It was extended in 1976 to the entire month of February.

During the month of February, we remember those exceptional African Americans who helped shape our nation. We remember Rosa Parks and her stand against inequality, abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Students, for the most part, are familiar with these individuals. They might not, however, know who Benjamin Banneker and James Van Der Zee were. Teachers need to not only teach students about those well known famous individuals, but also those individuals who have shaped history but might not be in their textbooks.

Carl L. Becker said that history is the memory of things said and done. Every time a teacher recounts the history of our country, students are led down a path of critical thinking. Questions arise in classrooms over our state. How could this have been prevented? Why did this happen?

As cliché as it might be, one thing I always urged my students to remember is that “one person can make a difference.” One such person was Blanche Kelso Bruce, who was the first African American to serve a full term in the U.S Senate. He fought for the rights of minority groups from 1875-1881 while serving as a U.S. Senator. People can shape the history of our country with just one simple act or a few simple words speaking out for equality.

How are you helping your students shape history? Click here to comment

This Month:

Use these KLRN Connect clips as you celebrate Black History Month in your classroom. Note: You must log-in to view KLRN Connect clips

(Grades K-5) A Segment of:  Animated Hero Classic: Harriet Tubman
In this program, your students will learn about Harriet Tubman. Courage helps her escape slavery and become a “modern-day Moses,” bravely leading others to freedom.

(Grades 6-8) A Segment of: Heroes of Today and Yesterday: Rosa Parks and the Civil Right Movement Rosa Parks’ act of defiance was the catalyst for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was the spark that ignited the modern-day civil rights movement. This program captures the feeling for the times Rosa Parks lived in. Archival footage and historical re-enactments make the story of Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement come alive for students.

(Grades 9-12) A Segment of: National Underground  Railroad Freedom Center: Nicki Giovanni Reads “Africa”
Poet and activist Dr. Nikki Giovanni reads her poem "Africa," a work that considers the role of African Americans in modern society.

Try This:

Christopher Myers Interview (K-2)
Watch while this author and illustrator of African-American stories, and the son of another children's book author, talks about his Brooklyn neighborhood, his work and how reading touches every part of his life

Being Heard (3-5)
Examine works of African-American writers during the Harlem Renaissance to see how their work helped define and enrich the black experience in the U.S.

Criminal or Hero (6-8)
Investigate why and how African Americans fought during the Revolutionary War. Create journal entries from a variety of historical perspectives, including slave, runaway slave, slave owner and British soldier.

Freedom: The History of US (9-12)
“Freedom” is the overarching theme of this sixteen-part series, based on the award winning books by master storyteller Joy Hakim. This is a history of the United States as the unfolding, inspiring story of human liberties aspired to and won. There are webisodes and lesson plans to enhance your teaching.

Teacher’s Corner:

Activity Packs from PBS Teachers
Explore educational resources and activities from PBS Teachers with Activity Packs. Each one focuses on a curricular theme and includes links to great PBS resources and supplemental activities. In Unsung Heroes in African American History, consider that before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, several young women did the same. Learn about lesser known African American heroes in this activity pack that can be added to your classroom website. This is a wonderful resource for teachers, parents and students alike.

PBS TeacherLine
PBS TeacherLine courses are approved by the Texas State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) and count towards required CPE hours. You can take our free, two-hour orientation course, Practice Learning Online with TeacherLine, to prepare for taking an online course. Enter the course through your My Courses  page. In order to take the free orientation course, you must first join PBS TeacherLine. Join for free.


Freedom Riders National Youth Summit Webcast
The Smithsonian Institution and the National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with American Experience, are offering a unique opportunity for middle and high school students to learn from actual history makers about the 1961 Freedom Rides. On Wed., Feb. 9 at 11:00 am, a webcast will join live audiences from six cities around the country (Birmingham, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, LA, and Dearborn, MI) to engage students in conversation with scholars, public historians, and most importantly, one another. Summit panelists will include award winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, along with four original Freedom Riders; veteran Congressman John Lewis, Diane Nash, Reverend James Lawson, and Jim Zwerg.

You can reserve a virtual seat for your class by registering here. This webcast will also be archived for future reference.





Let The Electric Company help you spark the love of literacy in your students with THE KIT: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO SPARK LITERACY LEARNING. This kit includes helpful ideas to bring out the best in your students. Resources are limited one per teacher to the first 25 teachers, so request yours today by clicking here!

Contact Us:

Lisa McGrath
Vice President of Education

Yvonne Yates
Director of School Services

Maricella Borroel
Director of Early Childhood Services

Elisa Resendiz
Manager of Community Engagement

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