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Racial Segregation Storyboard Activity

Lesson Overview

Overview: The Watson's go to Birmingham-1963, Tells the story of a family traveling from Flint, MI to Birmingham, AL all by bus in the heat of the Civil Rights Movement. Students will make comparisons to the story and to real life images and create a storyboard using the Prints and Photographs from the Library of Congress.
Grade Range: 6-8
Objective: At the conclusion of this project, the students will be able to:
  • Correlate fictional characters lives to real-life events.
  • Create a storyboard and describe an event in history using pictures, stories, and events.
  • Have a deeper understanding of the effects of racial segregation.
  • Compare life in the 1960s to that of today.
  • Utilize the Library of Congress primary sources as a means to create a meaningful project and have a deeper understanding of the material mentioned in the novel and connect it to real life events. 
Time Required: Five class periods of 45 minutes.
Discipline/Subject: Reading
Topic/Subject: African American History, Culture/Folklife
Era: Postwar United States, 1950-1960


Illinois Learning Standards:

English Language Arts:
3.B.3a-Produce documents that convey a clear understanding and interpretation of ideas and information and display focus, organization, and coherence.
3.C.3a-Compose narrative, informative, and persuasive writings for a specified audience.
3.C.3b-Using available technology, produce compositions and multimedia works for specified audiences.
4.A.3c-Restate and carry out multi-step oral instructions. 
4.B.3a-Deliver planned oral presentations, using language appropriate to the purpose, message and audience; provide details and supporting information that clarify main ideas; and use visual aids and contemporary technology as support.
5.B.3b-Identify, evaluate and cite primary sources.
5.C.3b-Prepare and orally present original work supported by research. 
5.C.3c-Take notes, conduct interviews, organize and report information in oral, visual and electronic formats.

Social Science:
16.A-Apply the skills of historical analysis and interpretation.
16.B-Understand the development of significant political events. 


Handouts: Storyboard Sheet - available on PDF
Student PowerPoint Worksheet - available on PDF
Rubric: The Watson's go to Birmingham-1963 Racial Segregation Storyboard Rubric - available on PDF.
Books: The Watson's go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
PowerPoint Slides: Available on PDF
Library of Congress Items: Title of Source: Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyards, Baltimore, Maryland A drinking fountain.
  Title of Source: A rest stop for Greyhound bus passengers on the way from Louisville, Kentucky, to Nashville, Tennessee, with separate accommodations for colored passengers.
  Title of Source: A Greyhound bus trip from Louisville, Kentucky to Memphis, Tennessee, and the terminals. Waiting for the bus at the Memphis terminal.
  Title of Source: A Greyhound bus trip from Louisville, Kentucky, to Memphis, Tennessee, and the terminals. Waiting for the bus at the Memphis station.
  Title of Source: Tourist cabins for Negroes. Highway sign.
  Title of Source: A cafe near the tobacco market, Durham, North Carolina.


  Day One:
1. Students will complete the book including the Epilogue, The Watson's go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.
2. Teacher will discuss the students' thoughts and feelings in regards to the Civil Rights movement and how it affects Americans today. Can use Smartboard to write student's ideas/responses.
3. The teacher will begin the PowerPoint, Racial Segregation: A Story in Pictures (available on PDF). The teacher will discuss slide one (what do we know about racial segregation from our book) and slide two (telling a story through pictures).
  Day Two:
1. The teacher will continue the PowerPoint and will open/discuss the Library of Congress website. The students will take notes on the Student PowerPoint Slides Worksheet (page 8-13 on PDF).
2. The teacher will hand out the rubric (page 7 of PDF)to show the students how they will be graded and also the storyboard sheet to use with their project. The students will then go to the computer lab to begin researching.
  Day Three:
1. Students research and plug in pictures and possible story transitions for their storyboard. Teachers will answer questions as needed.
  Day Four:
1. Students continue to work in the computer lab finishing their storyboard project.
  Day Five
1. Students will present their storyboards to the class and teachers and students will discuss and ask questions as needed.


Students will be evaluated by following the rubric. The rubric will contain all the components that are necessary for the students to understand what they are being evaluated on and a description of each.

Authors Credits:

D. Grubb
Cumberland Middle School