Teaching with Primary Sources

Education: Then and Now

Instructional Design

For Teachers

Education: Then and Now

This lesson will focus on the hardships African Americans had to face during the Civil Rights Movement to obtain an equal education. Students will compare and contrast the quality of education from then (Civil Rights Movement) and now. Students must have a working knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement, Jim Crow laws, and segregation. Click the links to below to give students a brief lesson on Civil Rights, Jim Crow laws and segregation.
Civil Rights A-Duhig
Civil Rights Movement.

Author: Tamara Berrian

Subject(s): Social Studies and Language Arts

(Reading) Grade Level(s): 3-5

Time Required:
4 class periods (35 minute interval)

Lesson Overview:
Students will analyze primary sources from the civil rights era and today to show how education has changed for African Americans.

Goal of the Lesson: Students will analyze primary sources to help them understand the importance of education now and the hardships African Americans faced then (during civil rights era) to ensure equal education rights for all.

After completing this lesson students will analyze the effects of the civil rights movement on education in the African American community. Students will also compare and contrast public education for African Americans then and now.

Investigative Question(s):

  • Who are some of the main people involved in the struggle for civil rights for blacks in the United States?
  • What significant events, legislation and organizations led up to the Brown v. Board of Education decision?
  • Is it important for schools to be desegregated and diverse?
  • How has education changed from the civil rights movement til now?

Primary Source Learning Practices:

1. Students will analyze primary sources such as photographs.

2. As students look at the primary sources, students will be asked to fill out a sheet that is designed to meet all phases of Inquiry Based learning.

3. Students will make reflections, observations, and predictions using primary sources with each other and as a whole class.

Alignment with Standards: Illinois Common Core Standards
CC.K-12.W.R.1 Text Types and Purposes: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CC.K-12.W.R.2 Text Types and Purposes: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CC.K-12.W.R.3 Text Types and Purposes: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
 CC.K-12.W.R.5 Production and Distribution of Writing: Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
CC.K-12.W.R.6 Production and Distribution of Writing: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
CC.K-12.W.R.9 Research to Build and Present Knowledge: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
CC.K-12.SL.1 Comprehension and Collaboration: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


1a. Teacher will direct students to "With an Even Hand" website.  Teacher and students will read together Upholding School Segregation: The Roberts Case and Separate and Unequal. Teacher will facilitate a discussion on both topics after reading to activate students prior knowledge of segregation in schools. (Connect)

 b. Teacher will break students into pairs. Each pair will be given two primary sources. One from civil rights era and one from now. Students will complete the objective observation side of the worksheet What Do You See? (Wonder and Connect)

2. Teacher will show Education Then and Now power point. (Wonder and Connect)

3.  Students will use the Think, Pair -Share strategy for this activity.  Students will look at primary sources again.  Now students will complete the deduction/interpretation side of What Do You See? (Investigate, Construct and Express)

4.  Teacher will direct students to Children of Struggle  lesson.  Teacher will direct and facilitate a conversation about the three students discussed in lesson.  (Investigate, Construct and Express)

5.  Students will look at primary sources again.  This time students will use a Venn Diagram to analyze/compare and contrast the primary sources. (Apply)

6.  When students have completed the activity, the teacher will lead a whole group discussion on the similarities and differences of education then and now.

Students will use the Writing Prompt worksheet (rough draft) to create a rough draft of an essay on the similarities and differences of education for African Americans.  Once the rough draft has been edited students will write final draft on Writing worksheet (final draft). (Apply and Reflect)

Evaluation: Rubric

Materials Used:
Writing worksheet
Writing Prompt worksheet
Venn Diagram
Interactive Venn Diagram



Student Management:

  • Partners (think-pair-share)
  • Cooperative Learning groups
  • Independently
  • Whole Class discussion



Governors State University - Teaching with Primary Sources Partner
Ms. Berrian
District 147
Last Updated on March 5, 2011