Civil Rights Timeline Pt 1

Part 1 of the Civil Rights Timeline involved students investigating self selected Civil Rights Events and then creating a giant Junior Class Timeline.

There were two purposes in this activity. The first was to have them practice their skills in researching primary and secondary sources. The second was to create a timeline that would then be used to engage students critical and creative thinking in a Part 2 project.

Full timeline view
Just the 1960s section. We had to go up on the glass!

Of course this project will tie into my new 2020 South Carolina US History Standards. I know this is not about Gamification but, I appreciate the shift in our standards towards acknowledge the nuance of the history. In an era where one side of the political spectrum is attempting to push garbage history into our classrooms (Hello SC Bill S.534) these standards uphold a consistent clear eyed examination of history, good and bad, with a focus on skill development over rote memorization. Part 2 of the project based on this section from our Curriculum Alignment Guide:

USHC.5.CC: Evaluate continuities and changes during the Civil Rights Movement and other subsequent movements for equal rights.

  • Evaluate how the tactics and strategies of the Women’s Movement, American Indian Movement, and LBGTQ Movement were similar/different from those of the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Examine how the leaders of different groups sought to promote or limit the expansion of civil rights across time.

Just look at the framing of these two suggested inquiry questions; Inclusion of LBGTQ rights as well as the acknowledgement that leaders sought to limit expansion of civil rights! The only thing that I added was the Latino rights movement as well as a student asked if they could include the Americans with Disabilities Act. Who know South Carolina would have approved such a set of US History questions! In standard 2 the curriculum alignment guide even goes so far as to warn our US History teachers to avoid teaching the Lost Cause as actual History!

Back to the Project

In building part 2 I wanted to include elements that would encourage the internal RAMP Motivators. For a quick refresher:

from Andrzej Marczewski

RAMP motivators are about internal motivation and while a teacher can provide opportunities for students to engage internally it really isn’t something one can enforce. I do offer the opportunity for students to earn an external reward in the form of XP but they can essentially create their own reward by arguing how much their work is worth. XP is not the prime driver of the motivation though. In both parts 1 and 2 grades have been deemphasized and yet I am still getting great participation and deep thinking.

Relatedness: Part 1 I allowed students to see that they were part of a larger experiment. Their work would be used to create something that would benefit the whole class. As one student walking past the timeline said “its really amazing what we can do when everyone does their work”. There was an interconnectedness and sense of belonging. In Part 2 students will be allowed to work in small collaborative groups. You will see “plexi-partners” and the Turning Point project can be done collaboratively.

Autonomy: In part 1 students were allowed to investigate events that they self selected. For the most part their selections were tied into their cultural backgrounds or identity. In other cases it was based on pure curiosity. Many of the topics on the list were far deeper cuts than the traditional Civil Rights topics and the kids got to investigate their own interest. Highly motivating. In Part 2 students will be evaluating the timeline and making their own choices regarding when the turning points occurred. Most importantly they will be able to let their personal creativity flow with their choice of product that will demonstrate their understanding. See below for more on these selections.

Mastery: Reread that Autonomy section. Students were selecting based on their interest. Their learning wasn’t tied into a preset worksheet. There was an expectation of skill being practiced but the knowledge they took away came from their own interest. Their own mastery of the content would then be shared with others. This same tactic is being used in part 2.

Purpose: The Relatedness is tied into Purpose. Each student knew that the others couldn’t do their job until everyone had done their job. This is bigger than their own grade and others are counting on their contribution. In part 2 we are trying to make modern connections. The purpose of studying the Civil Rights movement (hell, history in general) is not to memorize trivial facts about the dead but to develop an internal understanding of where we have been so we can see where we intend to go. How do we understand the Black Lives Matter movement, the Derrick Chauvin murder of George Floyd, or the backlash to the 1619 project without having the long context of American History. That is what we are doing here.

With the importance of the Civil Rights Movement(s) who has time to focus on getting things done just for the gradebook?!

Anyways, without further ado here is part 2 of the Civil Rights Timeline project:

I have also created several outline guides for each of the suggested products.


Movie Trailer

Childrens Book

Graphic Novel

Short Story