MENU
Featured Image

History and ELA Departments Collaborate to Teach about Civil Rights at Vassal Lane

History and ELA Departments Collaborate to Teach about Civil Rights at Vassal Lane
Posted on 06/21/2017
For several years, 8th grade history students in Cambridge have studied the integration of Little Rock High School in 1957 with an eye to exploring the role that individual “upstanders” play in promoting social change. To support this exploration, CPS 8th grade history teachers have been trained by Facing History and Ourselves to teach their Choices in Little Rock curriculum.

This spring, 8th grade history teacher Bill Folman and ELA teacher Caitlin O’Brien collaborated with HSS Coach Estefania Rodriguez and literacy coach Sarah Foleno to create a powerful new interdisciplinary unit on the Little Rock Nine. This year, O’Brien’s students read Carlotta Walls Lanier’s autobiography, “A Mighty Long Way.” O’Brien used personal narrative, song lyrics and photography to help students understand Lanier’s horrific experiences as the youngest of the Little Rock Nine. In Folman’s class, students viewed Ava Duvernay’s critically acclaimed documentary “13th,” and explored the connections between the abolition of slavery and our current mass incarceration system. This collaboration allowed students to understand institutionalized racism and the tools civil rights leaders used to transform society. Students also envisioned their own roles as active citizens and upstanders.