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Civil Right Biography

August 15, 2013

Civil Rights Biography

5-8 Objectives: 

  1. Common Core- Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions. 
  2. GLE-Identify, describe, explain, and analyze human characteristics; people’s education, language, diversity, economies, religions, settlement patterns, ethnic background, and political system.
  3. GLE-  Identify and analyze how a person becomes a member of a group or institution and what factors that influence inclusion or exclusion from a group.
  4. GLE-  Identify, describe, evaluate, and analyze how ideas, concepts, and tradition have changed over time.


            This activity has the students reading biographies and autobiographies about people during the civil rights era, then answer 4 essential questions about information gained from the biography.  Students are given a rubric and a choice in how they would like to present the information gained and evaluated during the reading of the book picked individually and teacher approved.


Time Period: 3-5 class periods



            List of biographies from your school library to determine the civil rights biographies students can check out.

            These are web addresses that have biographies book lists and printable biographies







Mrs. DeLozier’s Biography book list

                        Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals

                        Happy Birthday Martin Luther King by Jean Marzillo

                        Satchel Paige by Lesa Cline-Ransome

                        Duke Ellington by Andrea Davis Pinkney


Background information:

            The Civil Rights movement began right after the Civil War and Reconstruction due to the unequal treatment of black members of society.  During Jim Crow , laws were made to legalize the unequal treatment of these black members under the premise that separate was equal.  This separation of the black and white community was upheld by the Supreme Court decision of Plessy vs Ferguson, until separate education was show to be inherently unequal with Brown vs Board of Education.  The Little Rock 9 tried to desegregate Central High School, but violence spread.  The boycotting of buses, sit ins at lunch counters, marches for freedom, and protests with the growing white on black violence dominated the 1950’s and 1960’s Civil Rights movement.  It wasn’t until the Civil Rights bill was signed into law before the Civil Rights movement began to see progress in the ideas equality for all races.

Beginning Activity:

            Show students the Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King character powerpoint, and have students discuss What each person’s main accomplishments were and student’s opinions on those accomplishments,  what life was like during their life time, how each became part of the Civil Rights movement, and how have times changed in regards to Civil Rights. 


Step 1:  Students pick out their biography book and if necessary have students manage the reading of the book by:  picking one at their reading level, length to get the project done in the time period you are giving them, or give reading goals so that the book will be read by a deadline.

Step 2:  As reading the book have students fill out a Spider Graphic Organizer http://www.balancedreading.com/graphorg.pdf

based on accomplishments, what life is like, how they became part of the Civil Rights movement, and how things have changed.

Step 3 with assessment:  Once book has been read and spider graphic organizer filled out, then students are to answer the questions on Hand out 1.

Step 4 and Assessment:  Once Hand out 1 is completed and teacher graded with rubric, then students may begin their timeline to present to the class using Hand out 1.


Handout 1

Please answer the following questions in complete sentences that show you read the book as well as analyzed for the topics: accomplishments, life during the biography setting, events that made the person involved in civil rights, and changes from that time period to now.


  1.  Identify and give your opinion of this person’ accomplishments?  Also put a date or these accomplishments in order for timeline.



Handout 1 Rubric


Question is answered completely.

Answer is supported with factual details

Reasoning or opinion is explained clearly

Answer is written in a complete sentence



Timeline presentation rubric


10 accomplishments  or events are in order and dated with a year.

5 events include descriptive qualities of the person’s life.

3 Influences are shown on timeline.

Presenter explained how life was different from today.









Question is answered.          

Answer is supported with details

Reasoning or opinion is logical, but not necessarily explained

Answer has few grammar, spelling, capitalization, or punctuation mistakes.




7 accomplishments or events are in order and dated with a year.

2 events include descriptive qualities of the person’s life.

1 influence is shown on the timeline.

Presenter explained how life was different from today with few informational facts








1 or 0

Answer doesn’t answer the question.

Answer isn’t supported.

Reasoning or opinion is illogical

Answer has many grammar, spelling, capitalization, or punctuation mistakes.            




1 or 0

5 accomplishments or events are in order and dated with a year.

1 event includes a descriptive quality of the person’s life.

No influences are shown on the timeline.

Presenter only give on possible way that life is different today.




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