The Green Book: Data and Mapping

8th Grade Humanities

For this lesson I would use the Green Book in conjunction with the reading of the Young Adult book, The Watsons go to Birmingham. This activity would take place following the completion of the book and have the students plan their own road trip. The lesson would begin with a short discussion on The Great Migration and some of the differences between life in the North and the South using their previous reading as a guide.

Students will be introduced to the Green Book as a historical source and the teacher will project the Watson’s fictional trip on the screen as a demonstration on how to use the tool. This will be followed by a class discussion of the Green Book, sundown towns, and the implications about American society at the time. Students will be encouraged to draw parallels from other eras of history that they have learned about in past lessons, mayhap the early Nuremberg laws.

Following this students will draw a location in the North and South from a hat, and use the Green Book in order to plan a trip from the assigned locations. Students will be encouraged to check and see if any of the locations on their trip are still open using basic google searches.

As a exit ticket students will be asked to reflect on the Green Book tool and encouraged to ask several questions,When the Green Book was written, 1950’s, do you think it took longer than today to travel long distances? Do you think the mapping tools assumption of 750 miles a day is feasible or based off modern technology? How do you think the trip you planned would differ from an actual trip at the time? Students would be reminded to use the Watsons trip for context.

Teaching With Data

For my lesson, I will be using the State of the Union in Context which is a website that analyzes words in the state of the Union as said by previous presidents and displays a graph based on the frequency of the word usage.

My lesson would start as an introduction to the presidency and a history of the challenges presidents have had to face during their time in office. The lesson then would be based around the students taking a noun such as a name or place and looking it up with the website. The students would then briefly research the presidents that pop up on the bar graph and what the word means to them. For example, one could look up ‘Afghanistan’ and the four most prominent presidents that appear on the bar graph are George W. Bush, Obama, Carter, an Reagan .          


I would then have the student research these presidents briefly and have them find out why that word was so important to their respective presidencies. Students would them present their findings to the class. Overall, this lesson would not only teach students about the different situations that presidents had to face but also could show the similar circumstances that presidents faced such as war and economic depression.

Violence in America – from Lynchings to Police Brutality

Essential Questions:  

  • What motivates violence in America?
  • How have these motivations changed over time?

The Lesson:

In the history class I currently teach, we are briefly covering the trajectory of race relations in America (ie. what would become the United States) from the time the first slaves arrived in the colonies to the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 60s. This particular lesson would  fall somewhere following the death of Emmett Till as a lead-in to our unit on the Civil Rights Movement. The purpose of this lesson is to have students identify how race-based violence led to violence historically and examine how historical violence relates to an experience of violence in the United States today. This lesson will serve as an attention-grabber and primer for our lesson on the Civil Rights Movement and why the movement still matters today. Prior to this lesson, students will already understand the terms lynching and racism, as well as some of the causes of both.

I will conduct this lesson in the form of a Socratic Seminar – drawing on important details in each of the maps provided below. To begin, the class will engage in a discussion on the “Map of White Supremacy mob violence” created by Monroe Work Today. Using this map, I will begin by asking the students what they found interesting, novel, and important to our discussion on violence in America. Most notably, I’d form the discussion to help them notice the geographical and racially motivated nature of the lynchings as seem below (click on image).

Click on image to enlarge it and view in separate window.

Following our discussion on the racially motivated attacks throughout the country, I will guide the students to note that it appears these attacks first tapered off and then ended in the 1960s (leading up to our Civil Rights unit).

Then, I will show them this picture which comes Smithsonian Archives and was used in the 1963 March on Washington:

During this transition from racially motivated violence experienced in the pre-Civil Rights to racially motivated violence experienced during and after the Civil Rights era, I will show students famous images that highlight this police brutally (attack dogs and fire hoses). To end this lesson, I will conclude by asking students if they think these issues have been solved today – thus ending by showing them this map below which highlights the occurrences of people killed by police in 2018 and argues for the bias- or racially-motivated nature of many of these attacks.


Teaching with Data

For my lesson, I would use the map of mob violence. Students would be instructed to go to the site and use it as a jumping point to research different acts of violence. Students would be separated into small groups, and they would work together to research the violence that occurred in different regions of America. Regions would be separated into the regions this map creates: “Left Coast”, “Far West”, “Yankee North”, “Spanish Heritage El Norte”, “The Midlands”, “Greater Appalachia” and “The Deep South”. Students would use this map as a jumping point to research the mob violence that has occurred in this region over the years, and how it changed over time. For example, the west coast had quite a few Native American victims of mob violence during the early years of this map and eventually has more Chinese victims. Each plot point can be clicked on and the story behind the violence can be expanded (see screenshots below). Many of the plot points link to sources, which would allow students to find more details on the killing, and be able to present a fuller story about why these incidents of mob violence occurred.

Students would research a few of the incidents to find greater detail, and present their findings to the class. We would use their findings to discuss the history of mob violence in our country, as well as draw parallels to issues we see today. This could be used in conjunction with a unit about progressive reforms, civil rights, or something along those lines.