February 26, 2022

Black History Month Bell Ringers

Maria Fernanda Martinez

Teaching 8th Grade U.S. History can often feel very limited and repetitive. Most of the Texas state standards require us only to speak of Black people within the scope of enslavement in the United States. I wanted to take February as an opportunity to expose students to a range of Black experiences in the United States and also provide them with increased opportunities for analysis and discussion.

I created a series of 22 portraits with quotes from Black Americans who have made history and had them displayed on my classroom door. I also used one a day as a bell ringer with the prompts:

What do you think the person is trying to say?

What is their historical context?

Do you agree or disagree with their statement and why?

I provided the historical context and allowed students to discuss the other two questions before calling on a few students to do a whole classroom share out.

I intentionally selected people they may not have heard about or studied before and strategically drew connections between the content we were learning and who I presented for that day.

Next year, if I would keep this activity pretty similar to what I did this year, but perhaps add the opportunity for extra credit if students choose to do their own research on someone I presented, or have them develop the portraits themselves.

You can click the link below to access all 22 portraits in PDF format. I printed these four to a standard office paper so that they looked like instagram posts.


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