3 Important Ways to Teach Black History All Year Long
By Kirsten Hammond
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Have you considered sharing information about Black History with your students – not just in February, but throughout the year?
During childhood, as an African American girl, I would always feel embarrassed around February when teachers would share some facts over the announcements about famous African Americans. Where I lived, that was the extent of Black History Month. There was never any depth to what we learned.
One thing I wish I had as a child was more resources to learn more about black history and inspiration from African Americans from all walks of life.
Not just your typical famous African Americans that we know about – but those who were also very successful and made powerful impacts in other areas.
Here are a few ways to incorporate and share information about Black History Month in a way that involves students of all backgrounds, allows for safe (and powerful discussions), and can be done year-round!
Reflect on Quotes from Famous People in Black History
Find famous quotes from African Americans from a variety of industries, such as entertainment, athletes, civil rights activists, or politicians.
You could do a writing prompt where students reflect on what the quote means to them. Do a quick-write where students write the meaning of the quote (in their opinion) and allow students to share. Give a little background information on the person who said the quote.
Dialogue with students about the meaning of the quotes is integral. You may get a variety of angles and opinions. Be sure to welcome all insights (within reason).
One of my resources was featured on the TPT blog a couple of years ago and on the TPT homepage in 2023! You can check out more information about my Motivational Posters here!
Integrate Black History in your Reading Block
Biography passages on famous African Americans doesn’t have to be highlighted in February – it can be done all year!
I love having students read biographies and answer multiple choice questions (to help build reading comprehension skills). This can be done in your small groups, stations, literacy centers, or assigned for homework or distance learning.
Allow Students to Research People in Black History
Sometimes giving students free range to research people in black history based on their own interests is the way to go! There are a variety of kid-friendly online encyclopedias or websites for students to research.
You can have students research a person and create a poster about it. If you’re looking for project ideas (for any subject) check out this blog post on student choice!
Celebrating is Important
Black History Month is important to recognize (and celebrate), not just in February but all year. Recognizing the accomplishments of a group of people who, throughout generations, has shown resiliency despite the odds, can help inspire the generations to come.
Whether it be quotes from famous African Americans, mini biographies or passages about leaders in black history, or even allowing students to research their own area of interest – the possibilities are endless! Students of all grades have an opportunity to learn more about people in Black History.
Most importantly, the focus should be on celebrating diversity and acknowledging our own history as a nation. Taking time each month, especially during February for Black History Month, to appreciate those who fought for civil rights or made incredible strides in different industries is essential.
Whatever you decide, be sure that your students are getting access to accurate information about people in black history and how their stories have shaped our culture today. To get you started, click on each picture for some great Black History resources for Grades 3-5!
This article was originally published on February 13, 2022 and updated for 2024.
Click on each picture to take a look at Black History resources for Grades 3-5!
Kirsten is a former 3rd and 5th grade teacher who loves helping upper elementary teachers by creating resources and sharing ideas that are engaging, research-based, and TEKS-aligned. She is a work-from-home mama of 3 rambunctious little ones and loves running, true crime, and lots of coffee.