This unit was created by sixth grade educators in Cape Cod, MA as part of the 2022 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately one week, or five class periods, and is one part of a larger unit connected to the book Finding Langston.
Students will be able to:
- Explore how different forms of creative work express power.
- Analyze how music expresses culture and tradition.
- Closely read lyrics and speeches for language patterns and repetitions.
- Analyze writing, including song lyrics, to look for themes and determine the meanings of words and phrases, word choice, meaning and tone.
- Compare the tone of written and spoken language.
- Analyze images and engage in inquiry related to different source materials.
The Walking Democracy Unit is designed to expose students to the history of The Great Migration, including how migration by Black people out of the Jim Crow South would later contribute to the Civil Rights Movement and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Using a curated collection of primary sources, video clips, and teaching resources, students will dive deeply into the history of The Great Migration while following the story of Langston, the protagonist of the novel Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome. This unit has been designed with a project-based model to build foundational skills in English Language Arts while providing students multiple paths to competency, including writing, photography, and song.
The following lessons (lessons 11-14 of the full unit) focus on the cultural and creative traditions that were carried northward as people migrated in the lead up to the March on Washington. These lessons also explore how these traditions were expressed on the day that thousands gathered on the National Mall. In these lessons, students will analyze the meaning of song lyrics, speeches, and photographs that reflect the role of creative expression in powering a movement. Please note that these lessons are taught in conjunction with the novel Finding Langston, and references will be made in the lessons to ongoing work students complete for the novel study. In the following five lessons, students will develop skills in close reading, word choice, literary and photographic analysis, historical reasoning, reflection, and charitable argumentation.
- Students will answer the following two discussion board prompts and reply to responses from other students in the learning community:
“Much of the music of the Civil Rights Movement is culturally carried from the days when Black people were enslaved. The Great Migration allowed for some of this music to come to life. Think about the power of this music.
- What were the hopes of the Great Migration?
- At the time of the Civil Rights Movement, had these dreams come true?
- When songs were sung during the Civil Rights Movement, how did they help people to express desires for freedom and equality?”
2. Students will participate in analysis of song lyrics and performance of protest songs in class.
3. Students will analyze the speech made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr at the March on Washington, and then they will collaborate on creating a found poem based on text from that speech.
4. Students will complete an analysis of the photography of Rowland Scherman and the illustrations of Born on the Water and complete in exit ticket evaluating how they could use photography to reflect the theme, “power.”
5. Students will write a written reflection on how music and tradition impacts the human journey
Five-lesson unit plan for teachers, including pacing, texts and multimedia resources, guiding questions for group discussions, and performance tasks for the unit. Download below, or scroll down to read the complete unit plan. This unit contains some texts available exclusively in The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story AND/OR Born on the Water. Learn more about this/these book(s) and how to access them here.
Common Core Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 : Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5 : Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6 : Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content/style of a text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Music helps us express a desire for equality and freedom
Evan, 6th grade student from Cape Cod, MA
The following is an example of a reflection shared by a sixth grade student from Cape Cod, MA who engaged with this unit in fall 2022. The reflection was part of a formative assessment that asked students to consider which song explored in the unit resonated with them, and why.