Project-Based Learning - Black Boy
This project supports a book, Black Boy, by acclaimed author Richard Wright. Each year I use an audiobook to play a few sections to start each class during the first semester. It gives me a great opportunity to communicate my expectations pertaining to an appropriate class start and the benefits of being a good listener. By the end of the semester, my students have a scholarly book under their belt and a great narrative of a historic period in time provided by an age appropriate character.
Richard successfully used writing as a weapon against injustice. He is also living and giving commentary during the same period of time I cover in my U.S. History and Geography classes. High school students find an interesting connection to Richard because they are about the same age when the book starts. As Richard describes his life in the South, students are quick to learn that America was a much different place in the early 1900s.
Richard’s life story allows me to address the following:
1. historic content (as described by the Michigan High School Content Expectations for Social Studies)
2. importance of listening, reading, and writing (also part of Common Core State Standards)
3. the hardships that they face compared to Richard’s example to offer hope and resilience
4. life skills
5. connecting past and present
The project is divided into seven parts and does not include the book. Each part is represented on a rubric that guides students through the activity: email, professionally done, geography, history, notes, discussion board, and compare/contrast. Check out a student example by following this link: http://goo.gl/QEQ6G1
I have included the answer template, a video to coach students through the compare and contrast activity, and a summary describing Richard Wright.
This activity has been aligned to ISTE standards. It also provides a very strong advocacy piece to show off the knowledge and creativity of your students. All my students have really enjoyed mixing 21st century skills with class content and curriculum. I believe you will too!