As the 4th-grade unit on expository writing approached, 4th Grade Teacher Rhonda Brooks had a different idea for approaching the unit. Coincidentally falling in the month of February, Mrs. Brooks gathered the 4th-grade team to brainstorm combining black history with the writing lesson. After a bit of planning, this standard writing unit became a cross-division collaborative effort. With the 4th-grade team’s support and flexibility in their lesson plans, curriculum support from Mrs. Sharon Alexander, Ms. Jamie Jackson’s and Ms. Jennifer Hockless’ technical prowess, and a specially curated list of books from Lower School Librarian Tomisha Atkins, Influential African Americans was ready to launch.
From political activists to athletes, some more well-known and some more obscure, Mrs. Brooks and Mrs. Christy Naponic created a list of individuals approved for the project and shared each of their histories with the students. Students were then asked to identify a few individuals they were curious to learn more about and to express that interest in writing. Based on their submissions, Mrs. Brooks
and Mrs. Naponic assigned each student a famous African American. By using the books selected by Ms. Atkins and with Mr. Adam Flores’ guidance on composing timelines, each student researched the biographical history of their noteworthy individual and executed their expository writing assignment in the form of a newspaper. In preparation for the culminating event, Mrs. Amy Bento assisted each student in turning their newspaper article into a well-produced presentation. Each student then presented their influential African American to the class. Afterward, Mrs. Brooks thoughtfully printed and bound all of the newspaper articles as a memento for each student.
“Because of this project, I got to learn about Mamie ‘Peanut’ Johnson. She is inspirational because she was one of three women to play professional baseball. I liked this project because we focused on many black historical people that I didn’t know about.”
- Emily P. ‘23
This article was originally published in the Fall 2019 issue of The Delphian.