Warm up: Giving them the answer - Teacher gives students the 'answer' and they have to come up with the question. For example – Brown v Topeka –landmark Supreme Court decision involving race and education? After doing a few examples every student comes up with their own. Pick someone to start, they say their answer and who ever give a correct question has their turn and so on. Chance for more able students to think able really alternative questions, even less able students can think of easy questions.
Teachers explain to students that they are about to take part in a series of ‘Big Brother’ – with a difference. The housemates in this series of BB are all key individuals associated with Race and American Society 1865-1870.
Students work in pairs (or individually in smaller classes) to ‘become’ a key individual. They must first research their individual in depth to create detailed profiles noting and explaining the following about them. (It might be worthwhile arranging this before the lesson).
All profiles are to be word-processed and uploaded to a college/school intranet/VLE site that has been created for the duration of this exercise. Students are given a period of time to study all the profiles and to make notes in their own time on all the individuals.
The next part of the activity (this would probably require a double lesson or be spread over two consecutive lessons) would see the individuals entering the Big Brother house. Upon entering, each housemate would have the opportunity to deliver a 2 minute speech outlining who they are, what their main achievements have been and why they should be voted ‘Person making the largest contribution to race and civil rights issues in the USA between 1865 and 1970’.
Voting could then begin on evictions from the house. This could be done in a mock-up ‘Diary Room’ and would require each individual to vote two others out of the house based on their record in race and civil rights issues. Each eviction must be explained. This would be done in private and filmed, diary room entries would then be played back to the rest of the housemates.
At this point Davina (the teacher) may choose to intervene and re-cap on the discussions so far. Students could then work together as a group (out of character) to say who they think was the key individual in race and civil rights issues between 1865 and the 1970s.