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Recognizing the Richness of Black History Through Research

  |   45th Street, Elementary School, Special Programs

Lexi Zimmerman, Birch Room Head Teacher at 45th Street


Black History Month is an annual celebration of African American culture in addition to being a fantastic opportunity to teach children about world history, social studies and modern politics. Through exploring history, we can learn a great deal about the past and how it relates to the present and future. Black History Month additionally allows us to pause and celebrate African American writers, activists, musicians, inventors, scientists, doctors, artists, athletes, mathematicians and other leaders across different fields that have greatly impacted our country.


To commemorate Black History Month, the fifth graders in the Birch Room have been composing informative essays. An informative essay is a piece of nonfiction writing that uses facts and information to communicate knowledge about a specific topic. To begin, students explored different types of essays and learned how informative essays are fact-based – not based on the authors’ opinions or perspectives. They also learned about the structure of an informative essay and the function of each main section: the introduction, the body of the essay and the conclusion.


After learning about informative essays, each student considered their personal interests to choose an influential African American figure to base their essay on. They conducted independent research using a wide selection of books from the mini library in the classroom and informational worksheets. They also accessed reputable online resources which included The Academy of Achievement, Biography.com and the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. After completing rough drafts, students wrote out their finalized essays neatly by hand, and included both a photograph and illustration of their chosen influential figure.


The Birch Room recently held a “publishing party” for the students to share their completed essays with their peers. They were eager to present their chosen historical figures which included Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks, Louis Armstrong, Lebron James and Barack Obama among others. The students’ essays are currently on display on a bulletin board in the school hallway for the rest of the school community to read and enjoy.