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Try This and Not That For Teaching Black History

By Naomi O'Brien


My friend, Tamara Russell from Mrs. Russell’s Room, inspired and encouraged me to write this post. I think it was important, as a teacher of color, for me to share my thoughts on how I feel Black History should be taught. I, of course, don’t speak for all black teachers, only myself. Here are some dos and don’ts that I thought were important to share with my fellow teacher friends! 

Below is a free list of awesome Black Americans to introduce to your students! It’s a checklist that you can use to see who they already know about, and who they’d like to learn about.

This is a great resource to present various African American men and women to your students throughout the school year. Use PowerPoint to project a mini biography about each person and then have your students respond to the writing prompt given.
These writing response sheets would look great on a social studies or writing bulletin board. (Included in the resource above)
This awesome bundle incorporates reading and writing. I teamed up with my friend, LaNesha Tabb from Another Glorious Day to create this amazing resource! 
If you are looking for an easy way to branch out and teach about more than just slavery and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this is a great bundle to buy. It includes 20 biography profiles of African American artists and inventors as well as corresponding reading comprehension passages and more! Plus my writing resource that includes 21 mini African American men and woman to learn about and respond with writing prompts. 
I truly hope you were able to pick up a few new ideas for teaching Black American History!



Hi, I'm Naomi

I have been teaching elementary students for over 10 years. Effective reading instruction and accurate social studies at the primary level are huge passions of mine! 

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13 Responses

  1. I love this post, Naomi! So many great points and things to think about. The reminder not to perpetuate the myth that racism is "over" especially resonates with me. I think it's so important to celebrate the work and achievements of civil rights leaders of the past without implying (explicitly or implicitly) that there isn't so much work left to be done. I also love the reminder that kids aren't colorblind and neither are adults. I think when we equate "colorblind" with "not racist" we do ourselves and our kids a disservice. Acknowledging and exploring the ways that race continues to impact our society is a positive and proactive step towards creating a better future for all of us. Thanks so much for this this thoughtful and thought-provoking post!

  2. I love this post. Our history and even current events aren't pretty–the worst thing we can do is sugar coat it all, rather than discussing it without our students. Some of the best lessons I've ever seen/been part of are when teachers allow kids to discuss, ask questions, and bring in their own points of view on topics that need to be discussed (but aren't always).
    Thank you!

  3. I love this post and the authenticity and transparency in which it was written! 🙂 I have seen teachers segregate students often for Black History Month lessons. I'm not a fan at all. Colorblindness is something I hear of often and it saddens me that there are folks who can't be honest with themselves and see their privilege. Thanks for stepping out! Proud of you! This was amazing!!

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