In 2022, Maya Angelou was officially the first Black woman to appear on a U.S. quarter. It's a design that the U.S. Mint said is “inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived.” It's a powerful gesture and moment that serves as one in an endless list of reminders of the impact historical figures have had on our culture.
This February, we’re excited to celebrate Angelou and all extraordinary figures of Black history during Black History month! Whether students are watching videos created by you or directing their own, they can use Screencastify to celebrate the occasion.
Take a look below for our ten favorite ways to celebrate Black History this month...and every month hereafter!
1. Have your students lead a virtual field trip 🚌
Why take one field trip when you can take 20? To start, ask each student to record themselves at a historical site or museum focused on Black history using Screencastify Submit. Each tour will be as unique as your students, and give the whole class the opportunity to explore the world beyond your classroom.
Need a few ideas for places to send your students? ⬇️
- National Museum of African History and Culture
- Dusable Museum of African American History
- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York
2. Gather your students for a book reading 📚
Students of any age can experience the magic of picture book biographies. Use Screencastify Record to capture yourself reading and displaying the pictures. After you’ve read a few different titles, you can even create a digital library by embedding your videos into a Google Slides presentation for easy access and sharing. Check out these 10 Amazing Picture Book Biographies to Celebrate Black History Month to get started quickly!
3. Assign a virtual play 🎭
Students can work together in groups to read, rehearse, and record themselves performing a scene from a play. Then, have them use Screencastify Edit to stitch the scenes together. Or, ask students to perform a monologue. Once you’ve activated artistic genius in all your kiddos, be sure to share the videos with their families, and the rest of your school community! Here are 20+ Plays all written by Black Playwrights.
4. Create a digital library of poetry performances 📄
Students can use Submit to perform poems written by Black authors. To create the digital library, create a Wakelet collection or insert them all into a Google Slides presentation. You’ll have a digital library full of student voices in no time. The Poetry Foundation has a whole collection of poems written by Black authors for your kiddos to choose from.
5. Have students practice their presentation skills with TED talks 🎫
Have students watch and analyze a TED Talk focused on Black history, Black activism, or Black achievement. Then students can record their own TED talk on an aspect of Black excellence and achievement that they have researched and are passionate about! To bring their TED Talk to the next level, invite them to use the editor to polish their final product.
6. Encourage students to react to famous historical speeches🎙
Students can record a reaction video to famous speeches where they watch a video for the first time and give their commentary on it. Turn this into a full-class activity and ask each student to record themselves performing parts of the speech and edit it into a video compilation.
There are so many speeches to choose from but, we figured we’d start you out with a few of our favorites:
- Martin Luther King Jr: I have a Dream
- President Obama: 2004 speech to the DNC
- Malcom X: The Ballot or the Bullet
- Shirley Chisholm: Speech at Howard
7. Create a gallery full of art by Black artists 🎨
Don’t just visit a museum, create your own. Ask students to choose a Black visual artist, photographer, or sculptor, and create a virtual gallery of their work. Students can showcase their art analysis skills by recording narration explaining the meaning, context, and analysis of each artwork.
You can even start by exposing your students to these amazing artists:
- 13 Important Black Visual Artists Everyone Should Know
- 10 Influential African-American Artists to Celebrate
8. Teach your students about the importance of the Green Book 🚗
The Green Book was originally published as a guide for Black families to safely travel through the Jim Crow south. It included information on safe places to eat and stay, as well as dangerous and racist towns to avoid. Using Google Maps, students can record themselves charting a safe path for families to travel as well as discussing the danger and discrimination that Black Americans faced.
Students can use these resources to begin their learning:
- National Trust for Historic Preservation: Green Book Sites
- The Green Book: Safe Spaces from Place to Place
9. Assign a presentation all about an important figure 📹
Ask students to research an influential Black person--either from history or in the present day. Students can then record a video presentation, news report, or dramatized interview with the person they researched. Once everyone has submitted, you can have students view work from their classmates with a virtual gallery walk.
Here are a few lists to get your students thinking:
- 44 African Americans who Shook Up the World
- Biography.com: Civil Rights Activists
- 26 Black Americans You Don't Know But Should
10. Explore the music of Black History 🎵
Music and Black history have always been inextricably linked. Honor the role music has played in Black history by asking students to research and report on an influential Black musician or musical artist. Engage the musicians in your class by asking them to record a cover of a song by a Black musician, or compose their own music! You can even check out this lesson plan all about the music of Black History.