Teaching Pedagogy

At the beginning of the year, I felt lost thinking about how I could create lessons that would be informative, while also engaging for my students. I wanted the students to be able to learn the necessary course content, while doing so in a way that was interesting to them. This all goes back to aspects of my teaching pedagogy that include creating a culturally inclusive and responsive classroom that uses technology to further help students learn what they need to, while taking a student centered approach to their learning.

While many teachers strive to make their classrooms culturally responsive, it can be hard to change what they thought was working for so long. I want my current and future students to always be thinking about how different events throughout history would affect different groups of people and why. I want to focus as much on the experience of minority groups because their stories are often brushed over in schools and sometimes even more interesting to students than the history that is followed throughout the textbook. Going into my student teaching classroom and future classrooms, I have already created and delivered a couple lessons that are culturally responsive and inclusive. For example, the final project that I chose to include for this class is one that was based off of lessons I taught in my student teaching placement about the 1920’s. Throughout this unit, the main question students were to be focusing on was “Were the 1920’s “Roaring” for everyone?” This question assumes that students understand that the in the United States, the 1920’s was a decade that was remembered as being a prosperous and favorable time for everyone that lived through it, when it was not the case. After each lesson, students were to add what they learned that day to the positive or negative column in their learning target notes and why the events they learned about that day affected different good positively or negatively. When I teach the 1920’s again in a future classroom that I am in, I want to try out the lesson that I created for my final project in this class. FINAL I think this would be an interesting way to test students understanding of the topic so far as a formative assessment or as a summative assessment at the end of the unit.

Another aspect of this class that I was nervous about was the use of technology. I know that I want my future classroom to make use of technology, but I was unsure of how I could incorporate it. One way I was able to incorporate technology around my lessons were through the use of interactive maps. I’ve learned how to incorporate lessons that are specific to the content my students are learning, but also other ways to look at data through websites such as, GapMinder, Google Trends, Chronicling America, Two Centuries of US Immigration, White Supremacy Mob Violence, and Mapping Green Book. In my classroom this past semester, I did a lesson during my 1920’s unit that incorporated the White Supremacy Mob Violence interactive map. I really liked how this lesson allowed students to be able to visualize where and to who all these mob violence attacks were happening. This allowed students to get a better understanding of what White Supremacy Mob Violence was and how it affected different groups of people. This helped my students synthesize the material we were learning and get a better understanding.

I also want my future classroom to be student centered. I’ve noticed throughout my time in the classroom that many students don’t respond well to 50-minute lectures, even though there needs to be some kind of lecture for introducing new information. While this is something that I’m still working on perfecting, this class helped me see a few ways to go about that. This is an aspect of my pedagogy that overlaps with other areas of teaching and learning as well, including the technology aspect of things. Using these specific maps in my teaching or having students work in groups together to accomplish little tasks together will be more beneficial to their learning. Another way I’ve gone about this in my student teaching already is to relate the past to more present events and problems. One of these lessons that I was able to try out in this class that helped me before going in to teach it to my students was comparing two songs, one from the time period we were studying and another more recent song from the past five years. This lesson allowed students to hear music from the time period we were studying and understand what was going on during that time, while comparing it to something they were more familiar with from a few years ago. The lesson can be viewed here. I really appreciated taking this class because it helped give me ideas for how to construct as well as accomplish lessons that I did not think I would be able to.

1920’s / 1930’s Race Relations in the U.S.

Political Cartoon representing Jim Crow Laws Source

Essential Question: How were African Americans treated in the 1920’s and 1930’s and how did they respond to this type of treatment?

Directions for Students: For your assignment, you will need to pick a decade, either the 1920’s or the 1930’s and pretend that you are a black working class American. You will be writing three journal entries about different experiences you have during this time. Use the following documents to help you in writing your journal entries. At the end of each journal entry, make sure to add a drawing of what you wrote about in your journal.  Your journal entries can either be handwritten or typed out, but your pictures need to be hand drawn. You will not lose points for art ability, I just want to see that you tried your best to create a visual of the content you wrote about. Make sure each journal entry is at least 3 paragraphs or 12-15 sentences.

Entry #1: In your first journal entry, write about your life in the South. What job do you have? Do you have a family? How does having or not having a family impact your experience? How is life different for you as compared to white working class Americans? Make sure to include how you are affected by Jim Crow laws and describe at least one instance where you were able to see this difference. 

Entry #2: In your second journal entry, write about a specific lynching you have heard about. Use the lynching map to pinpoint a specific case where someone was lynched. Who was this person? Were they related to you? A Friend? Someone you knew from your town? Or were they a stranger? How does this make you feel? For your drawing, draw how this interaction made you feel. 

Entry #3: In your final journal entry, pretend that you have just participated in the Great Migration, and are now living in Harlem, New York. Describe what you see in your new city. What art have you seen or literature have you read? How does this compare to life in the South? Do you like it better in the South or in Harlem? Why? 

Historical Context:

While the 1920’s can be remembered as a prosperous and exciting time for many people, it was not for everyone. Jim Crow laws limited what African Americans were allowed to do, where they were allowed to go, what bathrooms or water fountains they were allowed to use, while also segregating them from their white counterparts. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, lynchings were continuing to occur throughout the United States, with the revitalization of the Ku Klux Klan. While these acts were occurring throughout the United States, Harlem, New York saw a different side of life. In Harlem, many black artists and writers were publishing their works that shined a light on what it was like to be black in America. Artists and writers expressed their experiences through their craft and many people took to listening and learning about their experiences. This also allowed other members of the black community to feel as though they were not alone through the struggles they faced and the experiences they had.

Jim Crow Laws:

In 1896, the Supreme Court Case of Plessy vs. Ferguson allowed for segregated facilities for white and black people. The Supreme Court decision found this to be constitutional as long as these facilities were separate, but equal. Because of this Supreme Court decision, laws were imposed to segregate white and black people. These laws came to be known as Jim Crow laws after a character in a minstrel play, where a big part of the play was making fun of black people. Jim Crow laws severely affected the American lives, but most directly that of African Americans.

Document #1: This document is from “The Appeal” an African American newspaper. How do you think states were able to get away with treating African Americans as subordinates to their white counterparts? Do you think they were violating the 14th amendment with how African Americans were treated and the facilities they were to use? source
Document #2: In this image, the entrance for black people was at the back of the building. Does this entrance look equal to where the white entrance was at the front of the building? Source
Document #3: This is an image of a bus station in Durham, North Carolina in 1944. While this photograph was not taken during the 1920’s or 1930’s, do you think this is a photograph that you could see being taken during those decades as well? Source


With the revitalization of the Ku Klux Klan during the late 1910’s and early 1920’s, the amount of lynchings were going up as well. The KKK was known for lynching, which meant to hang or kill someone who was allegedly accused of a crime, many people. Many remember the KKK as an organization that only killed blacks, but quite a few Chinese, Latinos, and Italians were lynched by the KKK for not agreeing or meeting their criteria for membership. Groups such as the NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, worked to bring statistics and stories of how lynchings were affecting their community to light, in the hopes that people would stop.

Document #4: Since this source is from the 1910’s, how do you think it impacted people moving into the 1920’s and 1930’s? Source

Harlem Renaissance:

From the mid-1910’s to the early 1940’s, there was a mass migration of African Americans from southern states to northern states, specifically, Harlem, New York, known as the Great Migration. With so many African Americans moving to Harlem, it became a city that was rich with African American culture and traditions. Because of this, many African American artists and writers were able to flourish, publishing their work and getting lots of buzz around it. Many people in the Harlem were either writing, or creating other kinds of art that expressed experiences they had had throughout their lives. Because so many African Americans were living in Harlem and close to the art, they had better access to it and were able to see it and relate to the different experiences that were expressed. Many people found solidarity in one another because of these artists and writers that were so open about their experiences.

Document #5: What is the strange fruit that Billie Holiday is singing about? What kind of message do you think she is trying to send with this song? Source
Document #6: The Lyrics to Strange Fruit. Do you think this was a problem that was only happening in the South, like Holiday sings about, or do you think this was also happening in Northern states as well? Why? Source
Document #7: How do you think this experience has affected Hughes throughout his life? Do you think he is the only person to experience this or was this a common problem that many African Americans faced? Source

Visualizing the Past

In the classrooms I’m teaching in this year, I have 11th and 12th graders that are taking U.S. History. There are many ways to bring what my students are learning to life. My students respond better when their learning becomes a bit more interactive and they a making students responsible for their own learning in a new way.

I think it’d be really fun when we are learning about the Civil Rights Era to have students try and make their own trip off of the Green Book maps. Source The classrooms I am in have their own sets of Chromebooks that students are able to use, so this can be a classroom activity, since many of my students do not have access to computers at home.

In this activity, I would ask students to get a chromebook from the back of our classroom and go to this website. Students would then pick a starting and end point. Students would have to note and 2 places to eat and at least one place to stay along their journey. This might be harder for shorter journeys because not a lot of places allowed black people to eat in their resturants or stay the night. After mapping their journey on the website, students would then have to write a letter to someone back home talking about their journey and the different places they ate and spent the night. They would also need to include some things they saw along the way that would remind them that they are in the 1930’s or 1940’s. These additions might include things like signs saying “whites only” or seeing Hoovervilles as they are traveling along. Students would also need to note how they are traveling from their different destinations, whether by foot or car, or another mode of transportation. This would be a really fun activity for students to be able to first visualize what a journey for a black person might look like prior to the Civil Rights era and also give them a space to synthesize what it was they had been learning about.

This is an activity that I think my students would enjoy and something I could see myself using in the classroom. I know when I’m trying to understand something that it helps to have a visual representation of what it is I’m studying. This helps me get a better idea of what life was like for certain people, better than just reading about it just hearing about it. When I have used interactive maps or other ways to visualize the past in my classroom, my students have responded pretty well to it. I think each of us would benefit from using these platforms to visualize the past.

Discussion Methods – Ideas and Experiences

Over my time in my placement, I have learned that discussions in some classes will just not be beneficial or productive. Some students are just not mature enough to have thoughtful discussions with the class. Because of this, the entire class looses out on opportunities for discussion. There are other kinds of smaller discussions that I’ve been able to try and want to try in the future.

In my previous field experience placement, my Cooperating Teacher was a big fan of having Structured Academic Controversy in her class. One of many times she used this method in her class, they were discussing the start of the Civil War. This was a really productive activity for this topic since there is always so many ideas around what really started the Civil War. It was good for students to be able to see sources from each side and see them argue for and against points they had supported at the beginning of the class, but maybe were completely against by the end. It was very cool to see how these students responded and how well they were able to use the documents provided to them to create valid and strong arguments.

In my classroom this year, my CT and I have tried having students evaluate pictures before we start a new unit and have students jigsaw the photographs so they can see what they will be learning in the next unit. This was beneficial in some classes, but others turned disastrous. Since starting my unit plan, I’ve been a big fan of seeing how students are doing at the end of the class period and what they have learned. Exit tickets have been a really good tool to get that kind of information. I’ve used that in a couple classes, but don’t want it to become too repetitive so I’m excited to try a couple new ideas in the next few class periods.

One tool I’m excited to try is the 3-2-1 method. I think using this method would be helpful for students to feel a bit more empowered in their learning because it focuses on things that they are good at and know how to do. Focusing on what students are good at might also help those who are dealing with stress about tests. I’m also really interested in seeing how the Send-a-problem tool would work. It activates students to do something for themselves and their own learning and might be a tool they can model for themselves and others in the classroom before trying it at home or for other classes as well. My class is having a review day in a couple of class periods so I’m excited to try that one out for them instead of just making a Kahoot for them to review with.