With the (hopefully for good this time) advent of sunny spring days and the end of state testing, your fifth graders are doing a deep dive into the American civil rights movement. We’ve been immersed in this work in reading, writing, and social studies as we push ourselves to collect and sort through important facts and consider ways to layer our own thinking over them. The first cycle of this work has involved reading all across myriad texts on the subject and organizing what we learn into subtopics, then flash drafting across all of these subtopics in a research report structure. Our big revision work has taken the form of doing targeted research to fill in gaps in our understanding, as well as using strategies like noticing patterns, developing theories, and building empathy in our readers. This round of work will culminate soon in the publication of collaborative classwide books that touch on a variety of subtopics.

Soon thereafter, our research will specialize into specific subtopics, examples of which include “famous civil rights leaders,” “the role of students in the civil rights movement,” and “landmark Supreme Court cases.” Students will target their research, writing and publishing individual research reports on a single subtopic of choice. We can’t wait to share this work with you at a publishing party sometime soon!

Our work in social studies also supports our immersion in civil rights research. A current mini-unit entitled “Kids Who Resist,” spearheaded by our own wonderful TA, Kate, introduced us to the Greensboro 4 and the idea of peaceful protest. Students got creative by designing their own flyers to advertise sit ins at the Woolworth’s Lunch Counter in 1960. Upcoming topics include Ruby Bridges and the Birmingham Children’s Crusade!

I’ll be in touch about publishing party dates as our work continues!

P.S. Lower Lab’s own creative writer laureate, Suzanne LaFleur, has a new book in the works entitled Counting to Perfect. A recent cover art sneak peek had this reader buzzing; here’s a link for anybody interested in finding out more about her upcoming work and thoughts on being a writer: Cover Art and Interview with Ms. LaFleur!