Using Picture Books to Teach Social Justice in Middle School - EB Academics

Grab Your Free Writing Guide

Become an EB Insider Today

Using Picture Books to Teach Social Justice in Middle School

January 14, 2018 3 min read

One of the things we love about working at a small school is partnering up with different grades and doing projects and mini units together. Our students enjoy this too (although they always ask if they’re being partnered with their sibling!) We absolutely LOVE the unit we have planned for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jessica and a fellow teacher actually started the pre unit background information this past week. In 3rd grade, we spent three days learning about Martin luther King Jr. (Did you know that he was not actually born “Martin,” but that his family later changed his name?) through picture books and small group discussions. My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart (written by his niece, Angela Farris Watkins) was a favorite of the kids! We also used this resource (a foldable) to help anchor what we had learned from our discussions.

Meanwhile, the Middle School kids delved deeply into MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. They previewed key vocabulary, deciphered King’s use of figurative language (those metaphors!!), created dream illustrations for the world today, analyzed persuasion (ethos, pathos, logos, and charged words), participated in a Socratic Seminar, and wrote an argumentative essay! This is the resource we used for these lessons.

Additionally, we spent some prep time gathering picture books centered around different social justice issues and/or historical figures who fought for social justice.

Here’s what we’re doing over three 75-minute periods this week:

DAY ONE:
We’re partnering up our third and seventh graders and assigning them a story to read with their partner. Here’s some of the books we used:
  • Malala: A Brave Girl From Pakistan 
  • The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist
  • A Picture Book of Cesar Chavez
  • Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers
  • Ticktock Banner’s Clock
  • Only Passing Through
  • Rosa
  • The Story of Ruby Bridges
  • Through My Eyes
  • Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hammer
  • Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909
  • Steamboat School
Just some of the books we’re using this week!

After reading their book, the students will work together to complete this graphic organizer and a blueprint of the one-pager they want to create.

DAY TWO:

Students will continue working on their one-pager which includes the main idea and/or purpose of the book they read, what social justice issues the book grapples with, the obstacles people have overcome in the book, a thematic statement (yes, third graders will do this part too!), significant quotes, a visual representation, an “I am” poem from the perspective of the central figure in the book, and a personal statement.

DAY THREE:

Students will create a Flipgrid video showcasing their one-pager. We’re planning on having them only explain certain parts of their creation (eg. the thematic statement, explaining their visual representation, their poem, and their personal statement). This way we can share the final products with all the students’ families. We’re also going to create a gallery wall at school of the completed one-pagers.

We’re seriously so excited for this project. We know the students are going to be exposed to people and issues they have never encountered before, sparking authentic discussions. The seventh graders will be great role models in analyzing literature and using some fun technology!

We sincerely hope you’re able to use this great lesson with your students, too! Enjoy 🙂
EB Academic Camps

All posts

1 Comment

  • Denise Meredith October 5, 2019 at 10:04 am

    This is a great unit. I would suggest not limiting it to MLKjr. day. Kids need access to diverse literature and instruction in social justice all year long.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Welcome!

    Welcome!

    Hi there! We're two middle school ELA teachers with a mission to share ideas, tips, and tricks for effectively teaching reading and writing in the secondary classroom. We're so happy you stopped by!

    Caitlin + Jessica

    Your 15 Free Resources Are Waiting!

    Immediately receive access to our
    Free Resource Library

    We promise we won't spam you.

    Let’s Connect

    Popular Posts

    Our Latest Posts

    Categories

    Instagram

    • Tell me in the comments below 👇🏼 What type of writing do you HATE teaching the most?⁣
⁣
Narratives? Argumentative? Informational? Text-based? ⁣
⁣
ALL OF THEM?!⁣
⁣
So many teachers reach out to us about struggles they face when teaching writing, so know that you are NOT ALONE. ⁣
⁣
All of this to say, I love seeing the success of our EB Teachers with writing in their classrooms like Kate from @kateteaching7and8 who is using so many of our EB Teachers’ Club resources to see amazing results for her students!⁣
⁣
I love what Kate has to say about these lessons, “I really feel like the EB Teachers’ Club has me not only feeling more prepared as I start class each day, but also like I’m increasing my expectations and rigor. The greatest part is the kids are rising to meet the new expectations.” 😍♥️🤗
    • Something that I’ve been thinking about lately as I’ve been doing a lot of personal work to grow and become the best version of myself ...⁣
⁣
I think it’s important for us to remember how we are showing up each day. Whether that’s in the classroom or even at home with family and friends. ⁣
⁣
Who are we being?⁣
⁣
And why are we being that way?⁣
⁣
If there’s something about yourself that you don’t like, first I want you to question why you feel that way and where that belief about yourself comes from. ⁣
⁣
But then I want to encourage you to think about how you could adjust to be the best version of you. ⁣
⁣
I’ll give you an example from myself ... I am VERY high strung. And I have been telling myself this narrative about who I am for forever. My family tells me. My friends tell me. ⁣
⁣
But that’s not who I want to be and that’s now what I want to define me. ⁣
⁣
So I’ve taken a hard look at why I feel this way about myself, and what I can do to alter that narrative and not be high strung. And not be defined in that way. ⁣
⁣
Just some food for thought on a Sunday morning. ⁣
⁣
Feel free to share your thoughts with me ♥️
    • Can I be completely honest for a second?

One thing that I miss about being a classroom teacher (in addition to SO many other things) is dressing up every day 🤷🏼‍♀️ There, I said it 😱

Weird? I don’t know ... maybe, but that’s me.
    • It is very possible that today’s podcast episode will completely contradict a major component of the way you teach literary analysis. 
In the episode, we reveal our third game-changing strategy for teaching evidence-based writing, and we’re asking you to take a breath, suspend judgement for a moment, and allow us to walk you through exactly why we believe in this strategy, even though it goes against the grain. 
Continue listening to the episode here —> ebacademics.com/35
    • One of the biggest mistakes we can make as writing teachers is requiring our students to start their essays with a HOOK. 
With this strategy, students gets STUCK on that first sentence before they can even get a chance to get to the heart of their paper! They end up wasting tons of precious writing time trying to come up with an interesting hook that oftentimes is a stretch. 
Instead, we want to give our students a CLEAR roadmap to begin their essays. One that will give them confidence in their abilities from the get go. One that allows them to quickly move into the meat of their critical analysis, so they can truly show us what they've learned. 
If you've ever taught hook and are ready to try a new, counterintuitive approach that WORKS and gives your students RESULTS, this episode is a MUST listen. 
Head over here to give it a listen --> ebacademics.com/34
    • Double tap if you agree ♥️♥️⁣
⁣
And if you need to call in sick to take a mental health day for yourself. DO IT. Take a day off and go get a pedicure, or go shopping, or go workout!⁣
⁣
Do whatever you need to do to get to the place of your best self. ⁣
⁣
I used to work with a teacher who took a mental health day every month. It was when I first started teaching, and I didn’t get it. Why was she doing that?⁣
⁣
Well, fast forward to a decade in the classroom later, and now I truly see the value and importance of doing that! ⁣
⁣
I know you hear it all the time, but let it sink in ...⁣
⁣
You need to do what’s best for YOU and take care of yourself first. If we aren’t operating from our best selves, then we’re not able to serve anyone the way that we’re capable of. ⁣
⁣
On another note, hope you all enjoyed that extra hour of sleep last night! And if you have young children, I can commiserate. My little guy woke up at 6:30 😂😭🤦🏼‍♀️📸 @dumbosteiner

    Follow @ebacademics

    ×