SPSD Celebrates Black History Month

SPSD Celebrates Black History Month
Posted on 02/26/2021
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Throughout the month of February, South Park students in all three schools engaged in learning activities, lessons, projects and experiences to celebrate Black History Month. These learning opportunities included the study of Pittsburghers, the exploration of artistic works, and some even took students to space!

At South Park Elementary Center, our youngest learners have studied Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, Ruby Bridges and President Barack Obama and the impact they have had and continue to have today. First graders read books and watched videos about their lives and completed journal writing entries about the positive attributes of those individuals.

Kindergarten students have looked at the artwork of Christian Robinson, an illustrator of children’s books and animator, as part of their learning activities this month. Robinson, who has worked with Sesame Street Workshop and Pixar Animation Studios, is a 2016 Caldecott Honoree. He has also received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.

Second and fourth graders read and recited the poetry of Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes. Second graders also studied the works of Carter G. Woodson, who established Black History Month.  Currently, fourth graders are reading “Delivering Justice,” a book on a mail carrier’s fight for equality and civil rights.

Last week, the Heinz History Center joined a third grade cyber class to teach students about Pittsburgh’s ties to the Underground Railroad. Third graders are also completing cross-curricular lessons centered on the book “Hidden Figures,” which tells the story of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden who played pivotal roles in America’s first space journeys. 

Fifth grade students have studied the historical impacts of prominent figures in Black History including Martin Luther King and completed open-ended responses based on the passages they read. 

This year, sixth graders have read and completed writing workshops on works including, “Marian Anderson: Struggles and Triumphs” and “She Had to Walk before She Could Run.” Fifth and sixth grade gifted students read and discussed articles on the Great Migration and Shirley Chisholm’s historic run for president then discussed parallels to the activism of the past and today’s civil rights movement. 

In their FCS classes while discussing quilt making, seventh graders read the book “Hidden in Plain View,” which details how quilt patterns served as tools for escape along the Underground Railroad. Seventh graders also researched scientists using an online resource which works to promote diversity in the fields of the sciences. They also explored various artists on Google Arts and Culture and focused on the pieces dealing with historic movements within the Civil Rights Movement. 

Eighth graders studied the works of contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley for a portraiture/identity project in their art class and discussed the importance of equal representation within art and society. In their ELA classes, students watched biographical videos showcasing the lives of Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and Toni Morrison.

Using their Chromebooks, Ms. Rech’s high school art students visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and virtually toured the Art by African Americans online exhibit. They are also researching and writing biographies on artists whose works inspired them. 

Among the lessons and activities for students in Mr. Rieck’s civics classes was one with a Pittsburgh-theme. They watched and discussed a “60 Minutes” interview with playwright August Wilson who discussed how his plays dealt with the most important issues facing the Black community.

A lesson in Mr. Baker’s photography class also was centered on Pittsburgh. Mr. Baker’s students studied Charles “Teenie” Harris, a photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier. Harris documented decades of Pittsburgh history with his photographs from the Hill District and the city. 

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