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The Little Rock Nine
This lesson helps 8th grade students understand perspectives, first by completing an exercise that will reveal the differences in their own and their classmates followed by a research project on the Civil Rights period in America. Through their research, students will learn about the Little Rock Nine as well as the other students at Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas during the 1957-58 school year. Students will begin to understand the American experience based on extreme perspectives, during a pivotal time in American history.
Goals & Objectives:
Instructional Goal: This lesson will encourage 8th grade students to examine perspectives, first their own and then how perspective influenced American history during the Civil Rights Movement. Learning Goals/Objectives: 1. 8th grade students will understand that each of them have a unique perspective based on their own experience of the world through the use of a creative exercise. 2. 8th grade students will learn that perspective can be influenced by learning and acquisition of new information. 3. 8th grade students will research a momentous occasion in the Civil Rights Movement from one of two perspectives: Caucasian students at Central High opposing the desegregation of their school or the Little Rock Nine experience of the desegregation at Central High. 4. 8th grade students will work individually or in pairs to compose a journal of an individual student during this momentous school year. 5. 8th grade students will create a bibliography citing six to eight sources used in their research. 6. 8th grade students will also present their research orally to their class, assuming the role of the student, speaking in the first person. Motivational Goals: 1. Stimulate interest in the research process. 2. Establish the relevance in the research process. 3. Build confidence in the research process. 4. Encourage further exploration of research.
Materials & Sources:
Audiotape or videotape with the sounds of the first day of school in Little Rock Handout Computers with Internet access Reference Books Non-fiction Books pertaining to the Civil Rights Movement

Session One:

1. When students walk into the library media center, an audio version of the first day of school at Central High in 1957 will be playing (the news coverage video without the picture). This will capture their attention and create anticipation for the events of the class period.

2. Ask them to sit at a table and not to turn over the handout (this would be passed out before they arrived) until they are instructed to do so.

3. Without discussing the background noise, ask the students to turn over their handout. Instruct them to draw (without words) what they are hearing.

4. Inform students that there will be no wrong answers, encouraging them to be as creative as possible. Tell them the exercise is only to spark a conversation; they will not be graded on their drawing.

5. Begin discussion of what students created as they heard the music and why. Ask them if they know what was occurring.

6. Depending on the discussion, introduce (or elaborate) on the events at Central High, Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.

7. Introduce the assignment, telling them they can work individually or in pairs to research the experiences of the students at Central High.

8. Inform the students that the product that they are to produce following their research will be a journal of one of the students from Central High during the 1957-58 school year.

9. It is recommended that students be arbitrarily assigned the student to research (either one of the Little Rock Nine or a real or fictional Caucasian student, this will avoid having students choosing the same character and not having a varied end product).

10. Students will be given the opportunity to begin their research.

Session Two:

1. Begin the class with the tape again. This time the students do not have the handout.

2. Ask the students to talk about their response to hearing the tape after knowing what it was as opposed to the last time they heard it.

3. Have students share a bit about their experience in the research process thus far. This will build their confidence in the research process.

4. Students continue to research and begin writing their journal.

5. Students are informed that they will have one more week to prepare and that the following week will be their presentations which will consist of them reading their journals to the class in the first person. (In this case they will not come to the library with their class the week in between but will be expected to be prepared the following week.)

Session Three (and Four if needed):

1. Students begin sharing their journals.

2. The class evaluates their experience of the project and specifically addresses the issue of perspective, what they learned about their own and that of society and what influences a change in perspective.

Observation, Questioning, Journaling, Presentation, Discussion, Group Evaluation and Self-Evaluation
Cindy Needham Graduate Student School of Information Studies Syracuse University
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Presented By: Colleen Tierney
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