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MPS Home ➤ District ➤ African American History Month

African American History Month at Montclair Public Schools

Montclair Public Schools will celebrate African-American History month with a variety of educational and enrichment activities throughout the month of February.  Although African-American history is integrated throughout our year-long curriculum at all levels, teachers and students will make a concerted effort throughout the month of February to further explore significant African-American historical figures and associated events.  Displays throughout schools will feature art, literature and general information reinforcing the curricular programs while a multitude of assemblies, programs and classroom-specific activities will emphasize the history and significance of African-Americans throughout history.    

We invite you to review these activities; converse with school leaders and teachers; and visit our schools as we acknowledge the contributions of African-Americans throughout history. This document outlines just some of the many activities occurring within our school communities. We thank you in advance for your understanding that this document is not an all-inclusive representation of the robust work occurring in our school communities during the month.

Barbara Pinsak
Interim Superintendent
Dr. Kendra Johnson
Assistant Superintendent for Equity

Activities in the Individual Schools
Click on each school name, below, for details

Bradford School

In our school community

  • School-wide assembly: The Seventh Principle Dance Company will present a dance program entitled “Bantaba: The Circle of Celebration,” which will highlight traditional African and modern African-American dance. The presentation will also teach about African culture and African-American culture. Students will identify how dance and music are infused into elements of everyday life in West African communities, and how the arts play an important role as an expression of cultural identity. Through percussive dance, traditional call-and-response, and traditional music, students will connect with the history of African dance and culture, and recognize the unique ability the art form has to bring people together around the world.

  • MLK, Jr. Day of Service: Bradford and Edgemont families came together at Bradford on Jan. 15 to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students engaged in service projects such as making soup for Toni’s Kitchen, stuffing backpacks for children in the foster care system, and writing letters to students affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, among other things. Fifth graders recited portions of Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

  • Daily quote by a famous African-American and oral sharing of important contributions of African-Americans on the morning announcements.

  • In Music Class, students will be listening to and singing songs made popular by Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Fourth grade guitar class students will be playing a Blues Shuffle. The entire school will be studying American Jazz and will present a concert "All That Jazz" in May. This will be presented at our Spring Concert, which is open to parents.

In our classrooms


  • In Ms. Bailey’s and Ms. Metzinger’s classes, students will read about and discuss the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students will also read a variety of texts and watch biographical videos about other important people in our country’s history including Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and George Washington Carver.

  • In Ms. Cahill’s class, students will identify which books in the classroom library lack diversity, and color them to rectify the issue.  Students will use the book, "Martin's Big Words" to create protest posters and re-create the March on Washington. Students will also look at all the wonderful things that come from Africa and cook two Moroccan recipes (*cooking activities).

First Grade

  •  In all first grade classes, students will learn about black scientists, (doctors, engineers and inventors) and black figures in the social sciences (artists, musicians, politicians/activists, athletes) by reading biographies and viewing videos.  Historical figures may include Thurgood Marshall, George Washington Carver, Barack Obama, Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson, Romare Bearden, Langston Hughes, Arthur Ashe, Ella Fitzgerald, Mae Jemison, Ruby Bridges, Jean Basquiat, Louis Armstrong, and others.

    • Students will also will read and discuss fiction, poetry, and short stories written by black authors/illustrators. 

Second Grade

  • In Ms. Chanin’s class, students will create a mural-sized timeline on fabric to foster understanding about sequential events in Black History beginning with notable Africans such as Mansa Musa and continuing into Black American History with the focus on the evolution of Black American music from slavery to the present day.

  • Students will write biographies on Black American Musicians and celebrate their work with an oral presentation for families in timeline order*.

  • In Ms. Durber’s class, students will learn about the various contributions of African-Americans as they work their way through the alphabet. An ABC book will be created by each student.

  • In Ms. Russo’s class, students will independently read about various African-Americans. In addition, each day, Ms. Russo will read students a story by an African-American author. Students will discuss each book and participate in follow-up activities.

Third Grade

  • In Ms. Macaluso’s class students will read aloud and discuss several books relating to African and/or African-American experiences.

  • Identify the countries Africans were taken from. Track the routes ships took to the Americas.

  • Write a biography on a famous African-American.

  • Participate in a culminating play*.

  • •In Ms. Caceres’ and Ms. Evangelista’s classes, students will identify important contributions African-Americans have made to American society through reading about and writing a biography to be presented to the class.

Fourth Grade

  • In all fourth grade classes, students will examine African-American history including slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

  • Compare and contrast the Civil Rights and Women’s Suffrage Movements.

  • Study the Underground Railroad/use Scholastic’s interactive Underground Railroad “Escape to Freedom” to trace slave paths to freedom, meet notable figures, and explore the true meaning of justice.

  • Listen to blues songs and write poetry around the songs’ themes.

  • Read and discuss the poetry of Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou, writing free verse inspired by these poets’ work.

  • Read books/plays to spark discussion around social/ ethical themes and explore the many accomplishments of several notable African-Americans. (ex: The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, The Unstoppable Ruby Bridges by Spencer Kayden, and Tuskegee Airmen: American Heroes).

Fifth Grade

  • In all fifth grade classes, students will study the Underground Railroad and create “stops” on the “Underground Railroad.” These stops will be posters of African-American history, poetry or literature throughout the building. These tidbits of information, created by the 5th grade students, will be placed throughout the building for lower grades to discover as a scavenger hunt.

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Buzz Aldrin School

In our school community

  • Buzz Aldrin Middle School (BAMS) students and staff will view the film "Our Town, Our Schools" with a panel discussion to follow.  The film is about the magnet program in Montclair and how it helped to integrate our school system. We will have community members and staff members who are long term residents on the panel.  During this assembly, students will also be treated to a special musical selection from the Buzz Aldrin Band.

  • We will have daily quotes and announcements about influential African-Americans during homeroom each morning.

  • The BAMS community participated in our annual MLK Day of Service. Buzz Aldrin students collected donations at Kings Supermarket, spent time with seniors at a local nursing home, and volunteered their time at several other places around the community, such as Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless (MESH) and Toni’s Kitchen.

In our classrooms

Sixth Grade

  • Jessica Eden-Mintz (Social Studies)

Day 1: Students will be introduced to Langston Hughes and learn about some of his most famous works including his poem “Dreams.” They will then break down the poem’s message, metaphors, rhyming words and tone. Students then write their own dreams in poetry format, using message, metaphors, and tone. They will then be asked to write one dream they may have on a class poster.
Days 2-3: Students will be introduced to the story of Ruby Bridges. They will then watch “The Ruby Bridges Story” and write a reflection paper.

  • Shivan Persad (Social Studies)

Students will complete a two part HyperDoc about African-American History Month.

Part 1: View media and answer questions about the history and origins of African-American History Month.
Part 2: Create a five-slide biographical Google slideshow about an influential person.  This will be shared with the class.

  • Jacqueline Brower (Science)

    House 2 sixth graders will be watching the film “Gifted Hands” which is about Benjamin Carson, the first African-American surgeon to separate conjoined twins. After watching the film we will discuss how his trials and tribulations led him to be a successful surgeon.

  • Alvina Babu (House 5 Science)

    House 5 sixth grade students will finish research on both famous and underrepresented African-American scientists who have contributed to the greater scientific community. Students will have the opportunity to present their posters to their class.

    Part 1: Research edited and completed on google docs.
    Part 2: Scientist Poster “Snapshot” of scientist.
    Part 3: Presentations and Peer Analysis.

  • June Thompson (Beginning French)

    Beginning French students will learn about which countries in Africa are French speaking.

  • Michele Kinnas (English Language Arts)

    In preparation for the reading of Watsons Go to Birmingham, groups of four-five students researched specific topics during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Such researched topics include: Cultural Elements of the 1930s, Sit-ins, Freedom Rides, and the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church.  Students presented their research to the class, while their peers took notes on each topic.  Later, they demonstrated their knowledge- not only of the content, but on their ability to take notes through an open-notes quiz.

    This strong background has allowed students to connect deeply with the novel and better understand what the characters were going through at the time. 

  • Charlie Poris (ICS)

    Students will complete a Breakout EDU on Martin Luther King Jr. in their Study Skills class

  • Jennifer Kosuda  (Special Education/English Language Arts)

    Students will read The Watsons Go to Birmingham -1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.   Throughout the novel, students will be investigating the historical events that made 1963 one of the most memorable years in our country’s history.

  • Jeffrey Lawton (Science)  6th and 7th grade

    Students will create multimedia projects that will share the lives and accomplishments of some influential African-American Scientists.  Presentations will be researched and presented through digital media.  Class will provide feedback to presenters immediately following the presentation.

  • Joseph Turner (House 5 Social Studies)

    Students will analyze the photograph “Alone in the crowd” which shows Elizabeth Eckford entering Little Rock Central High School. Students will study the issues related to the Little Rock Nine and integration. Students will participate in a dialogue provided by the New Jersey Amistad Commission where students act out several scenes detailing the people and issues related to the event. Students will reflect on an interviews conducted of the Little Rock Nine in 1996.

Seventh Grade

  • Atara Bernheim (English Language Arts)

    Students will read Mississippi Trial, 1955 and complimentary non-fiction texts. Students will discuss the impact of Emmett Till’s death in the context of the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Stephanie Savoia (English as a Second Language)

    English language learners in grades 6 through 8 will choose an African-American individual from one of the STEM areas to learn about and then create an informational poster to share with classmates; Students will read and discuss the poem ‘Dreams’ by Langston Hughes; Students will learn about Ruby Bridges and watch a movie about her story.

  • Brian Cunado (Social Studies)

    Students will learn about the integration of public schools. We will cover Plessy v Ferguson & Brown v Board of Education trials. Afterwards we will learn about the “Little Rock Nine.” 

  • Dan Taylor and Alex Woody (STEM and French)
    7th and 8th Grades

    Mr. Taylor will be presenting his experience in Gabon and we are taking it a step further to build in culturally responsive teaching and appreciation of other cultures. This will be part of an Africa unit with Ms. Woody’s Advanced French classes who will also study the art, music, foods, clothing and culture of Senegal.

    Ms. Woody is also collaborating with librarian, Ginny Weaver, to have students in Intermediate French write on Black francophone (French-speaking) areas of the world, and students who are heritage speakers are encouraged to make it more personal and write about their own family, take oral histories from family members, etc.. Students will also be encouraged to focus on STEM innovations by Black French-speakers in these areas.

  • Shivan Persad (Social Studies)

    Students will research a Historical Event throughout African-American History. They will then create a Kahoot (Quiz) about the event.
    The Kahoot must include questions and media. Students will have the opportunity to complete each other’s Kahoot during class.

  • Fritz Reissig (Social Studies)

    Students in House 4 will participate in our annual African History Month Museum Project. Students will research and create a museum display for one of the following exhibits (Students will choose a topic that relates to one of following topics.):

    7th Grade - “African-Americans in Colonial Society” and “African-Americans in the Revolution”
    8th Grade - “African-Americans in Antebellum America,” “African-Americans and the Civil War,” and “Reconstruction”

    Once completed, students will present their projects to their classes and museum exhibits will be on display in Room 212 for all students to see.

  • Stephanie Drozd (7th Grade Study Skills)

Students will research an African-American Scientist utilizing the skills and strategies learned on how to correctly use the Internet and Google to research. They will then create a multimedia presentation.

Eighth Grade

  • Atara Bernheim (English Language Arts)

Students will read self-selected biographies and/or autobiographies on an influential African-American person of choice. Upon completing their texts, students will create storybooks for children celebrating the life, accomplishments, and contributions of the person they studied.

  • Jessica Eden-Mintz (Social Studies)

Students will learn about several African-American inventors of the Industrial Revolution period and the origins of the term “the real McCoy.” They will then participate in an 8th grade “Shark Tank” challenge where they are challenged to create an invention of their own to solve an everyday problem. They will have the choice of building a prototype or drawing a detailed blueprint.

  • Brian Cunado (Social Studies)

Students will read stories about the Great Migration of the 20th Century and how it coincided with the Harlem Renaissance. Afterwards, students will create poems celebrating key figures that contributed to advancements in entertainment, politics & literature.

  • Maria McDonald (English Language Arts)

Students just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. They researched the context of the book before reading it in December. This included the racism of the 1930s. Now 8th graders are doing research into current social issues, which they are finding still include the topic of racism, among other issues. The students have been discussing the race issues in the book and what they see occurring in the world today. This will turn into an argument research essay with a self-selected social issue as the topic.

  • Tara Berger and Jacqueline Brower (Science)

House 2 and 3 eighth graders will be watching a video in class about the African-American chemist, Percy Julian. Julian overcame several obstacles to pursue his education and career as a chemist. He became a millionaire after starting his own business and was active in the civil rights movement. Students will write a biography detailing Percy Julian's achievements.

  • Paulette Schlatmann (Math)

Students will research an African American Scientist, Mathematician or Engineer. Students will then write a biographical essay focusing on their personal background, education and professional accomplishments.

As the students present their essays, the class will collect the information and develop a logic table.

  • Fritz Reissig (Social Studies)

Students in House 4 will participate in our annual African History Month Museum Project. Students will research and create a museum display for one of the following exhibits (Students will choose a topic that relates to one of following topics.):

7th Grade - “African-Americans in Colonial Society” and “African-Americans in the Revolution”
8th Grade - “African-Americans in Antebellum America,” “African-Americans and the Civil War,” and “Reconstruction”

Once completed, students will present their projects to their classes and museum exhibits will be on display in Room 212 for all students to see.

  • Michele Kinnas (English Language Arts)

In the eighth grade, groups of four to five students researched specific topics during the time period of their upcoming novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Such topics include Cultural elements of 1930, Jim Crow Laws, Scottsboro Trials, Court rooms (then vs. now), etc. Students presented their research to the class, while their peers took notes on each topic. Later, they demonstrated their knowledge, not only of the content, but on their ability to take notes through an open-notes quiz.

Students begin this American classic with a depth of understanding of the racism and segregation going on in our country at that time. This strong knowledge also gives them the ability to compare and contrast the structure of society, then and now.

  • Jen Kosuda (Special Education/English Language Arts)

Eighth grade students completed To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Beforehand, they investigated the time period and social issues related to the book and the 1930s. Afterwards, they created theme rocks and puzzles to describe, relate and analyze these issues and related themes including racism, prejudice, empathy, and courage. Throughout the month of February, students will continue to reference and relate current lessons/activities to these themes. In addition, inspirational quotes from influential African-American figures will be posted, investigated and analyzed.

  • Arin Leard (Art)

Students will study the art of Benny Andrews.

  • Fran Legman (Digital Photography and Mural Painting)

In Digital Photography classes, we will watch a slideshow highlighting the achievements of four African-American photographers: Gordon Parks, Carrie Mae Weems, James Van der Zee, Wilda Gerideau - Squires. Each of these photographers chronicles the lives of Black Americans at different times in history. We will discuss the photographers’ works and talk about the messages the photographer was trying to convey.

In Murals Classes we will view a slideshow about several African-American artists: Betye Saar, Faith Ringgold, Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden. We will discuss the style and media of each artist, and interpret and analyze the meaning of their work.*

  • Joann LoGreco (Special Education)

In the self-contained class we will be watching videos and reading stories about famous African-Americans. The goal is for the students to identify African-Americans and their contributions to the world.

  • Bonnie Khan (Special Education)

All students will learn about four anti-slavery leaders (John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth) as they make a pop-up book highlighting their accomplishments.

  • Brian Hillman (Science)

During the month of February, students will hear a daily warm up audio podcast (1 minute in length) from African-American Scientists who are currently living and working in North America.

Topics range from “Is the Polar Ice Cap as Good as Gone,” to “The Secret Life of Cells.”

  • Joseph Turner (Social Studies)

Students will participate in a research project where students will choose an African-American figure from a range of time periods and areas of impact. Students will produce a creative product dedicated to their figure’s accomplishments and legacy.

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Charles H. Bullock School

In our school community

  • Martin Luther King Jr. 15th Annual DAY ON Celebration on Jan. 15, 2018 (10:00 AM – 12:00 PM). More than 200 students, their families and members of the community, including Board of Education members, attended. The theme was “Be Like Martin”: Through crafts and activities, students learned they have the power to create change in their communities and the world.
  • Musical Program: “A Celebration of the Music of the Civil Rights Movement.” The P.A.C.E. Music Group (25-piece youth orchestra featuring an all-female trumpet section) joined Recording Artist Rachel Brown.

  • Community Service: Meal delivery to homebound seniors in the Montclair Community.

  • Media Coverage on BaristanetCharles H. Bullock Elementary School Hosts Its 15th Martin Luther King, Jr. Day ON Celebration: Activities, Service and Song

  • Monthly Schoolwide Morning Meeting Assembly Presented by Bullock’s Third Graders on January 13, 2018. The assembly focused on Dr. King and previewed Bullock’s upcoming Day On.  “Kid President” shared facts about Dr. King’s life and how he kept going forward no matter the circumstances and obstacles he faced.  A link to the assembly was shared with Bullock families via Principal Kuwabara’s “Weekly Update” 

In our classrooms


  • Students will be able to read and discuss the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Students will also read about Ruby Bridges and make connections to the bravery and courage it took for her to be a part of the civil rights movement just like Dr. King.

First Grade

  • Students will be able to read about and discuss the life of a variety of important people in our country’s history including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, George Washington Carver, and Ruby Bridges.

  • They will also listen to read aloud texts, as well as watch videos.

Second Grade

  • Students will be able to read about and discuss Ruby Bridges Goes to School. Students will look at their wonderings about Ruby Bridges.  They will look for more information on the Internet and in other books. They will research and find more information about the topic, such as school segregation, William Frantz Elementary School, and Barbara Henry.

Third Grade

  • Students will be able to learn about lesser known African-American inventors. They will evaluate the inventors’ inventions and determine which they feel has had the biggest impact on their lives.

  • Students will also use a WebQuest to research and learn about four different African-American inventors.  They will then create a 8.5x11 poster about one of the inventors that they feel has made the biggest difference in their lives, using the program Comic Life to display in the building.

Fourth Grade

  • Students will participate in morning meetings, present daily, contemporary, as well as historical, African-American contributors to our society and culture, with discussion to follow.

  • They will interpret quotes as discussion starters with an overall theme of courage.

  • Students will also recognize the history and contributions, often lesser known, as inseparable from American history.

Fifth Grade

Social Studies

  • Determine the influence of multicultural beliefs, products (i.e., art, food, music, and literature), and practices in shaping contemporary American culture.

  • Explain the origins of Black History Month by naming whom, when, and why this person felt it was necessary it be established.

  • To kick off African-American/Black History Month, students will read and watch a video about the origins of Black History Month. They will complete an exit ticket to assess their comprehension and recall of the origins of African-American/Black History Month.

  • Explain how folklore and the actions of famous historical and fictional characters from New Jersey and other regions of the United States contributed to the American national heritage.

English Language Arts

  • Throughout the month, in Social Studies class, students will research an individual considered a trailblazer in African-American/Black history, create a symbolic artifact which represents the trailblazer, and will present their work to their peers in a gallery walk. The trailblazers, students will be researching, represent a variety of fields such as science, entertainment, and social justice movements.

  • Create and present a symbolic artifact of an African-American trailblazer, which includes the person’s name, a picture, and date of birth/death, place of birth, at least 3 accomplishments, and influential contributions to history. The student must also include reasons why they chose this person and how/why they feel this person was impactful in at least 3 sentences.

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Developmental Learning Center (DLC)

In our school community

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Day

    • All DLC classes participated in lessons introducing them the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. .
    • Each classroom participated in follow-up role play activities and centers focused on caring, sharing, and kindness for all. These activities culminate with classes coming together to play and share snack in our “caring and sharing” whole school activity.
    • All DLC classes attended the MLK Day assembly at Hillside School.

African-American History Month

  • All classrooms will continue to discuss caring, sharing and kindness for all to reinforce previous lessons introducing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • All classrooms will learn about various influential African-Americans. Some examples include:

    • Garrett Augustus Morgan Sr.: Inventor of the stoplight
    • Barack Obama: 44th President of the United States
    • Sarah E. Goode: Inventor of the cabinet bed/early sofa bed
    • Mae Jemison: First African-American woman to go into space
    • George Crum: Inventor of the potato chip
    • Katherine Johnson: NASA mathematician
  • All classrooms will participate in lessons about same and different and have the opportunity to create self-portraits.

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Edgemont Montessori School

In our school community

  • MLK Jr. National Day of Service
    Families from Edgemont and Bradford schools partnered on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for a “Day On.” Families participated in these great service projects: 
    • Wrote letters to students at a sister school in Puerto Rico, who have been affected by Hurricane Maria and created handmade bookmarks for them.
    • Prepared soup for Toni’s Kitchen
    • Decorated and stuffed tote bags for the children of CASA, a non-profit organization that provides court-appointed advocates for children in the foster-care system.
    • Helped make 1,000 origami paper cranes with Edgemont’s Roots & Shoots Club in support of Christine Panza, a Montclair High School senior who has a condition known as NF2 (Neurofibromatosis Type II) and is recovering from brain surgery.
    • Filled backpacks with food to support families with Toni’s Kitchen's “Healthy Backpack Program”
  • Assemblies
    January celebrates the life of Dr. King. Across grades at Edgemont, Dr. King was honored with classroom discussions and activities educating students in the life of the social activist who sought equality and justice for all Americans. The Character theme of perseverance was highlighted for the month of January. Edgemont showed unity with an assembly where the students were encouraged to say “I’ll try!” instead of “I can’t,” as well as think about goals that they would like to achieve for the week, month or year. A mantra of “You can do it, if you put your mind into it” was chanted by the students and staff simultaneously. We are continuing our celebration of African-American history during the month of February. African-American History month will consist of teacher-designed activities that honor the life of African-Americans. An assembly showcasing student activity and work will take place at the end of the Month. In addition to Black History Month, February’s character theme is Kindness. Our school created a kindness tree last year that blooms with kind acts observed around the school until the end of the school year. This year we hope our tree blooms bigger than last year!

  • Art (K-5)
    Students will learn about the famous artist Romare Bearden. They will analyze a collage by Romare Bearden, investigate the impact of jazz on art, and create an original collage.

  • Cosmic Studies (K-5)
    Highlight scientists and their contributions in connection with each grade level unit.

  • Music (K-5)
    Students will be learning music composed and performed by the following African-Americans: K: Ella Fitzgerald, 1: Duke Ellington, 2: Nat King Cole, 3: Marian Anderson, 4: Thelonius Monk, and the fifth graders will be learning a few African-American children’s folk songs.

  • Spanish (K-5)
    Students will study the concept of adjectives (adjetivos) to describe important people such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. , Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks among others. Students will talk about influential people in history, use their prior knowledge regarding books, movies, articles, documentaries, and conversations with their families. Students 1st-5th grade will use adjectives to describe not just the physical characteristics of these historical figures but also about their character such as smart, brave, influential (inteligente, valiente, influyente) etc. For example, K-2 students will concentrate on learning the concept of adjectives in Spanish masculine and feminine endings of words, pronunciation, for example; tall, in Spanish (alta, alto) alta to describe a feminine noun, alto to describe a masculine noun. As a class activity they will use a word (adjective) to describe each picture on a short activity called A day in the life of Ruby Bridges. Un dia en la vida de Ruby Bridges using Spanish adjectives. Grades 3-5 will create their own sentences in Spanish using the correct nouns to describe these important people in history, then they will share with the class. They will also work on a short activity and create a T chart to describe what makes a good citizen according to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. entitled “What makes a good citizen according to MLK.” The students will be provided a word bank in Spanish. The students will work together prior to completing the chart on translating the meaning by acting out the words. At the end of the lesson they will share and read to the class what makes a good citizen in Spanish.

  • Curriculum Support ELA (K-3)
    Students will "Dream Big" and be encouraged to believe that they can make their ideas/dreams become realities as they read a timeline that provides information about a few African-American inventors - Sarah Boone (folding ironing board), Garrett Morgan (traffic light), Alice Parker (heating system for buildings), Sandy H. Love (refrigerated vending machine for bottled drinks), and J.L. Love (pencil sharpener), to name a few.

  • Curriculum Support Math (K-5)
    Students will engage in an African number activity and learn how to use an early African abacus, learn to play math games such as Butterfly (Nigeria), Dara (Nigeria), Shasima (Kenya), integrate African pattern activities using shapes and beads into mathematics. And, read and utilize the biography, “What are you Figuring Now?” by Jeri Ferris (Benjamin Banneker story).

In the classrooms


  • Students will read and learn about MLK.

  • They will learn about famous African-American inventors as part of 100 Day celebration.

  • They will listen to and learn about famous African-American musicians: Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, Ella Fitzgerald, etc

  • Students will also learn the lyrics and sing Down By The Riverside- Louis Armstrong.

First Grade

  • Students will read short biographies on different African-Americans.

  • They will research African-American inventors and display objects/drawings and a statement that illustrates the work of their inventor’s contribution to society in a “Hall of Honor”.*

Second Grade

  • Students will research the contributions of influential African-Americans such as Harriet Tubman, Ruby Bridges, Jackie Robinson, Barack Obama and Frederick Douglas.

  • Study the story of Amistad and research the following sources:

    • Tanzania: The slave road from W. Tanzania to the Zanzibar Slave Market through photos
    • Civil Rights - Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Little Rock Nine, Nelson Mandela, Barbara Jordan, Thurgood Marshall
    • Art - El Anatsui, Ghana; Tinga Art, Tanzania; Masks, Nigeria
    • Music - slave spirituals Literature - African-American writers and African folktales and poetry

Third Grade

Students will be able to:

  • Develop a timeline of Black History.

  • Make African masks and Kente cloths, study different ethnic groups and their customs using a map of Africa. Listen to, read, and write African folktales.

  • Learn about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Take a field trip to see “Freedom Train” at MSU, and then to the Montclair Art Museum to see the art of Faith Ringgold’s quilts.

  • Study the Jim Crow Era and learn about Civil Rights, using vocabulary words such as: liberty, freedom, protests, rights, etc.

  • Learn about the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments and study Brown vs. Bd. of Ed. and Plessy vs. Ferguson.

  • Write essays based on MLK Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and learn the song “Lift every Voice and Sing”. Explore the Harlem Renaissance, write poems influenced by the poetry of Langston Hughes, draw pictures like Jacob Lawrence, write short stories like Zora Neal Hurston, Dance like Alvin Ailey, sing like Ella Fitzgerald, and watch videos of Bo Jangles, Lou Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway.

  • Research African-American inventors and scientists and write reports.

  • Culminating activity: Make a quilt of a favorite book/book covers from Black History.

  • “Tour” The King Center website and view the actual draft of MLK's “I Have a Dream” speech.

  • Continue to learn about MLK through several read alouds and independent readings. Create a MLK timeline and answer cause and effect questions. *

  • Choose an influential African-American to research and write a biography about, and then present the biographies throughout Black History Month. *

Fourth Grade

Students will be able to:

  • Read articles and primary sources, analyzing them for meaning and structure. Articles will also provide vocabulary words. 

  • Study the historical context of the Civil Rights movement and the changes that were made as a result, including the desegregation plan for Montclair schools.

  • Examine current events in terms of what changed since the 1960’s and what hasn’t.

  • Hold discussions about what civil rights means, how citizens can make changes and what changes still need to happen for an equitable society.

Fifth Grade

Students will be able to:

  • Provide a daily Morning Message for the school that will include quotes from various famous African-Americans, then in class discuss the meaning of each quote during morning meetings. Students will then do a journal entry based on the quote.

  • Engage in enrichment center activities such as reading articles and other activities that will allow the students to research African-Americans that left a positive mark on society

  • Practice inferencing and vocabulary by answering task cards that include quotes from African-American heroes.

  • Research famous African-American mathematicians and what they were known for, about their life and what they discovered in the math world. 

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Glenfield Middle School

In our school community

  • On Friday, January 12, Glenfield Middle School hosted its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assembly. This year our theme was “Activism for Change.” Over the past few weeks, Glenfield staff and students have been conducting classroom and school-wide discussions related to the legacy of Dr. King and his connection to peace. This year’s assembly was a culmination of the students’ reflections and celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.

  • Glenfield’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assembly is coordinated by a committee of teachers which is led by Ms. Margaret Whitsett. This year’s event included both adult and students who were treated to speeches, musical performances as well as our annual live painting. Rabbi Israel Dresner was our Keynote Speaker.

  • Rabbi Dresner was the foremost rabbinic participant in the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s, and was one of the three rabbis who was closest to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His talk helped students make connections between historical events and our current political climate. He was so engaging that you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium throughout the 20 minutes of his address. A highlight was when Rabbi Dresner sang a song he and others used in times of protest.

  • Glenfield is in pursuit of developing a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Art Gallery. As part of our assembly program student artists create a live painting inspired by our theme. This year our artwork was a portrait of the Civil Rights Activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, for her determination to be a change agent in a time of inequality. Students sat in the audience in suspense as the painting came to life! The finished painting will be on display in the Glenfield library.

  • A highlight video of the assembly will be posted to the Glenfield Middle School website.

  • On February 20, at the Montclair Board of Education meeting, various Glenfield students will perform “Hard Times Come Again No More” by Stephen Foster.

In our classrooms

Sixth Grade

  • House Gill (Dan Gill - Social Studies/Carmen Blanco – English Language Arts/Pete Von Hoffman - Mathematics/Nicole Noto - Science/Tracey Wolfson - Special Education)
    Students will be assigned to do research on a notable African-American and present their research.

  • Frances Aboushi (Social Studies) 
    Students will be examining the powerful effects of slavery on our society back then and how it continues to impact our culture today.

  • Gayle Fuentes (Vocal Director)
    CI CHORUS: For the upcoming spring concert, CI Chorus students will be performing a piece called "Keep Your Lamps!" which is a Traditional Spiritual. They will understand the history, origins, and the purpose of singing them. Students will learn the significance of spirituals during times of slavery and will learn how to stylistically perform this genre of choral music.

Seventh Grade

  • Scott Berman (Social Studies)
    The class will be doing a week-long unit on slavery followed by a project to be presented by the students.

  • Karin Lemke (English Language Arts)
    African-American author read aloud program for Black History Month.

  • Julie Dominick (English Language Arts)
    African-American author read aloud program for Black History Month.

  • Gayle Fuentes (Vocal Director)
    CI Chorus: For the upcoming spring concert, CI Chorus students will be performing a piece called "Keep Your Lamps!" which is a Traditional Spiritual. They will understand the history, origins, and the purpose of singing them. Students will learn the significance of spirituals during times of slavery and will learn how to stylistically perform this genre of choral music.

  • Tom Lupfer (Drama)
    CI Acting 7: Class will view the telefilm of “A Raisin in the Sun,” by Lorraine Hansberry, and study monologues & scenes from this seminal play. They will learn the history of the play, the context of its setting, and about the work & life of Langston Hughes, the poet whose poem inspired the title of the play.

Eighth Grade

  • Ms. Deborah Grasso (Mathematics)
    Incorporating activities in her Do Now's that surround historical African-American mathematicians.

  • Mrs. Michelle Fruhschien (English Language Arts)
    Reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" (includes a variety of discussions, activities and analysis).

  • Mr. Pelli (Social Studies)
    Introducing racial relations leading up to the Civil War, starting MP3.

  • Michele Lofrano (English Language Arts)
    Launching a new novel study next week, “To Kill a Mockingbird," beginning with a WebQuest to explore background/context as our pre-reading. Groups of students will become "Experts" on assigned topics: Jim Crow Laws, The Great Depression, Growing Up Black/White in the South, the Scottsboro Boys, and About the Author: Harper Lee. This novel study will be throughout February and March. Essential Questions that will be explored:

    • What factors influence our moral growth? What kinds of experiences help us learn how to judge right from wrong?
    • What is identity? To what extent do we determine our own identities? What influence does society have?
    • What are stereotypes, and how do they affect how we see ourselves and how others see us?
    • How does our need to belong influence our identity? How does it lead to the formation of “in” groups and “out” groups in our society?
  • Gayle Fuentes (Vocal Director)
    CI CHORUS: For the upcoming spring concert, CI Chorus students will be performing a piece called "Keep Your Lamps!" which is a Traditional Spiritual. They will understand the history, origins, and the purpose of singing them. Students will learn the significance of spirituals during times of slavery and will learn how to stylistically perform this genre of choral music.

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Hillside School

In our school community

  • February 23, 2018: Schoolwide Assembly by Premiere Dance Company will perform Trail Blazers.

  • Month of February: School-wide Morning Announcements dedicated to A.A./Black History Month

In the classrooms

Third Grade

  • Chung: Students will research the lives of famous African-Americans and the contributions they made to society. We will create a living wax museum where each student will dress as and give a speech about their lives and accomplishments as a famous African-American.*

  • Masuzzo: Students will research the life of an historical African-American figure from one of several categories: Science, Math, the Arts (visual art, dance, music), Literature, Politics, etc. using both a cited book and internet source. Students will use the writing process to produce a “snapshot” page for inclusion on our class’ timeline wall and a technology-based presentation of key ideas and facts. Students will present their slideshows to the class.*

  • Graham: Essential Question: Why is it important to recognize and celebrate the contributions and experiences of all cultures?

    Students will read a picture book showcasing the lives of athletes, artists, poets/writers, explorers, entertainers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Jacob Lawrence, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Matthew Henson, and Wilma Rudolph. Film footage of each historical figure will be used to support the legacy along with a follow up discussion of each person’s contribution to African-American history, life, and culture.

  • Scriffiano/Harris: Students will research the life of a notable African-American in history including their childhood, family, and personal accomplishments. Students will use their notes to draft, revise, edit and publish a biography writing piece. Students will create a postboard of their historical figure, including a detailed full-color body, background, and timeline of at least 5 significant events or accomplishments. Students will “come alive” and perform their speech to the class.

  • Piller/Yoo: The students have examined the lives of a variety of African-American leaders and famous role models. We have utilized media sources to explore the hardships and turmoil that many of these historical figures have faced. The students completed guided reading of literature that included such books as, Martin’s Big Words, The Black Snowman, The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Tar Beach. The students also, completed a Reader’s Theatre to build reading fluency on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The students also completed an individual rendition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and these amazing works of art are posted outside our classroom with many of Dr. King’s famous quotes. These quotes were also explored and discussed to apply to our everyday life.

Fourth Grade

  • Murphy/Hart: Students will create an anthology of biographies featuring African-American leaders, politicians, poets, authors, entrepreneurs, actors, athletes, and citizens who have influenced our country in positive ways.  Comprehension activities will be a part of each biography lesson.*

  • Longmore/Le: Students will participate in various activities highlighting the contributions of famous African-Americans from diverse walks of life, backgrounds, and time periods, including present day. Activities will include role plays, a gallery walk, creating a timeline, read alouds, discussions, and reading comprehension exercises. 

  • Graham: Essential Question: Why is it important to recognize and celebrate the contributions and experiences of all cultures?

    Students will participate in a read aloud where picture books will be used showcasing the lives of athletes, artists, entertainers, poets, and explorers such as  Ella Fitzgerald, Jacob Lawrence, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Matthew Henson, and Wilma Rudolph. Film footage of each historical figure will be used to support the legacy along with a follow up discussion of each person’s contribution to African-American history, life, and culture.

  • Hill: Students will examine slavery through analysis of primary and secondary documents, in an effort to understand how economic, social, and political choices combined with the physical landscape of the southern colonies to promote and perpetuate chattel slavery. Students will also examine ways in which slaves and opponents of slavery actively resisted enslavement, through multiple methods.

  • Traina/Rockwell: Students will select an African-American role model to design and complete a Biography Clue Board.  The person can be someone from the past who had a significant role in history or a current role model in society, such as an athlete, author, musician, dancer, or political leader.  Students will research facts, write clues in first-person point-of-view, and create a poster.  Information will presented to classmates.  

Fifth Grade

  • Johnson: Students will research important African-Americans and their positive contributions to our country. Additionally, they will study important civil rights events (Sit Ins, Little Rock Nine, Ruby Bridges, Selma, Montgomery Bus Boycott, etc.). They will complete assignments throughout the month regarding each event/person, culminating to the creation of our 2017-2018 Freedom Quilt, which will be placed in the hallway.

  • Le/Longmore: Students will partake in a month long project in which they are responsible for presenting research about important African-American figures and their contributions to society twice a week in the form of various activities and projects that they can choose to complete from an African-American/Black History Month Menu. In addition, we will discuss important civil rights events and how they affected our country and complete comprehension activities that tie in and reinforce their current workshop skills.

  • Graham: Essential Question: Why is it important to recognize and celebrate the contributions and experiences of all cultures

    Students will participate in a read aloud where picture books will be used showcasing the lives of athletes, artists, entertainers, poets/authors, and explorers such as  Ella Fitzgerald, Jacob Lawrence, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Matthew Henson, and Wilma Rudolph. Film footage of each historical figure will be used to support the legacy along with a follow up discussion of each person’s contribution to African-American history, life, and culture.

  • Towery: Technology students will engage in creating a Google Slide Presentation celebrating the contributions of important African-Americans. Their presentations will include information about the person family, early life, education, notable accomplishments, hometown, and other interesting facts. *

  • Frankle: Students will research important African-Americans and their positive contributions to our country. They will complete a Gallery of Greats projects to be hung outside in the hallway.  Additionally, they will study important civil rights events (Sit Ins, Little Rock Nine, Ruby Bridges, Selma, Montgomery Bus Boycott, etc.).

  • Frankle/Bostic: Students will be researching and creating a famous African-American Scientists Wanted Posters.  We will be working collaboratively, integrating Writing and Science, celebrating important contributions of African-American Scientists.*

  • Brantner/Eckardt: Students will research influential African-Americans and their positive contributions to our country. They will complete a Gallery of Greats projects to be hung outside in the hallway.  The featured African-Americans will be from Civil Rights Movement, STEAM, government, and arts.

  • Hakusa: The students will examine the lives of notable African-Americans such as African-American inventors and explorers.  The students will read or listen to the story of their lives. They will watch videos and view information on the web about these individuals. They will work on a project that highlights the contribution each individual has made to society.  The project will be a class chart and a students created booklet.

In addition, the students will continue to learn about the civil rights movement.  We just completed a unit of study on the life of Martin Luther King. We are currently reading “Abby Takes a Stand” and we will soon learn about Ruby Bridges.

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Montclair High School

In our school community

MLK Day Of Service:  Montclair High School students participated throughout the community volunteering and providing service to families and neighbors during the Martin Luther King Day of Service.  Many were supporting food, clothing and supply drives for families in Puerto Rico while others participated in supporting local churches and agencies in Montclair.

In our classrooms

Ninth Grade

  • World Literature Honors:  Students will create and participate in a  Nigerian Wedding Feast to culminate the lesson.

  • Things Fall Apart; this is an opportunity for students to learn about African cultures, particularly the Nigerian Ibo, as they organize, plan, and host our Wedding Feast.

Tenth Grade

  • US History 1 H - We touch upon African-American history in all units. Currently and into February, we are studying the history and lasting impact of slavery.

  • The 2018 CGI Social Reform Hall of Fame: The CGI sophomores recently participated in a public display of learning, dressing up as and giving speeches as social reformers. Not only was one student speaking as Martin Luther King, Jr., many students researched and spoke as other African-American social reformers involved in the Civil Rights, Women's and Labor movements.

Eleventh Grade

  • US History 2 H - MHS Explores African-American history in all units. Currently and into February, we are studying the civil rights/black liberation movement, including the complexity of MLK's life and legacy.

  • Adaptive Physical Education: Adapted PE classes will be giving a presentation on two famous African-Americans, one male and one female, who they look up to or has impacted their life in some way and how they contributed to society.

Twelfth Grade

  • CSJ - Second marking period theme in our period 2 classes is racism, and we will end that study with a presentation of student projects. In history classes, we touch upon African-American history in all our units. In our US 2 classes, we just reviewed the role of African-Americans in WW2 at home and abroad. Next, we will examine how mainstream 1950s culture was very much a white culture. By mid-February we should be on the Civil Rights/Black Liberation unit. In our US 1 classes, we are studying the role slavery played in US history in the early 1800s. By mid-February we should be continuing and deepening our study of slavery and its lasting impact.
  • Black History Month in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) 10-12
    • Students research STEM African-American innovators and create social media pages for these innovators highlighting their achievements in the field. We share these with the Montclair High School community by posting it in the hallway as well as featuring the social media pages on our STEM blog.
    • We will also be analyzing and discussing the film “Hidden Figures” with the STEM students.
  • Center for Achievement (CFA)*
    Inspired by George Ella Lyon’s poem, Where I’m From, Ms. Morrison will facilitate a writing journey with the CFA students twice a week during Ms. Honczarenko’s Period 3 English class. Students will work to craft their own poems through guided exercises that allow them to freely express, celebrate or honor memories of their family and/or childhood experiences. At the conclusion of the writing journey, students be invited to share their poems with CFA staff and invited guests in an in-class Open Mic session.

  • Center for Social Justice (CSJ)*
    Students will create a visual/artistic representation of each of the thirteen guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter movement (R. Novalis’ class). A display of the representations will occur.

  • African-American Achievement Dinner*
    The Civics and Government Institute (CGI) will hold its annual African-American Achievement Dinner on Feb. 22 in the Atrium at 6 pm. The proceeds of this event go to a CGI Minority Scholarship for a senior in the institute. The night is a celebration of African-American culture within the Montclair community. 

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Nishuane School

In our school community

  • School-Wide assembly at start of month on February 1. African Folktales assembly with the Bright Stars Theatre Group to start of the month on February 1. Two African griots (storytellers) will share stories that celebrate the vastness of the African landscape with African instruments including Anansi, pourquoi and trickster tales. The assembly will include audience interaction with sing-alongs and stories to help celebrate world cultures and oral traditions.

  • Cultural Infusion Committee Morning Broadcasts throughout the month: Class representatives will participate in Morning Broadcasts to “teach the school” aspects of what they are learning and doing in their classes.

  • School-wide Gallery Walk: All classes in the school will participate in project which they will display on their bulletin board or door decoration and/or projects displayed on tables throughout halls. During the week of February 26th as a culmination, teachers will take their classes on a gallery walk to view and learn from other class displays.

  • Principal Read-In: Ms. McLaughlin will do a read aloud in classrooms of the book “Just As Good: “How Larry Doby Changed America’s Game” of Larry Doby, the first African-American baseball player signed to the American League who was also a Montclair resident and Nishuane School parent!

  • MLK Day of Service: On Jan 15, Nishuane students and their parents participated in Nishuane's Martin Luther King Day of Service in partnership with MESH. For the weeks prior to this day, food items designated by MESH were donated by families. At our day of service, children and their families sorted the food items that were (very generously) donated by the Nishuane community and MESH came to collect the food and also $385 dollars in monetary donations. At our day of service event, children also designed table setting cards to place on the tables at MESH cafe. We also had a story hour and discussion where parent volunteers read and discussed Uncle Willy and the Soup Kitchen and Fantastic Kids:  Helping Others.

  • In technology, students will read and learn about the accomplishments of David Hedgley - The Father of 3D Graphics - as we learn and work more on our 3D design and printing unit.

  • In physical education, students will learn about African-American gymnasts in this gymnastics unit. Students will learn about the athlete, their story, and when incorporating equipment, they will learn which gymnasts competed on that particular equipment and their accomplishments in this event. Ipads will be used.

  • In art, students will work on a unit about Kehinde Wiley. They will recognize the art of Kehinde Wiley and describe how his art relates to our current unit (portraits). SWBAT compare and contrast the portraits of Kehinde Wiley with other well-known portraits and name three special things about his work (decorative/nature backgrounds, realistic over-sized paintings, only paints African-American people). SWBAT name some facts about Kehinde Wiley (lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, still alive today making him a contemporary painter, has interns paint the backgrounds of his portraits.

  • In music, students will work on a unit about Ella Fitzgerald. Students will learn about her and why she was so unique in her musical talents. By the end of the unit children will learn "It Don't Mean a Thing" one of her greatest hits.

In Our Schools


  • Students will be able to read and discuss books about African-American and African-American folktales to learn facts about famous African-American through literature, pictures, biographies, and activities. Measures of learning will include: completing timelines, mini-books and fact writing as a part of their writing unit. Resources will include African folktales, Biographies about Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Faith Ringgold. Brain Pop Jr. videos will also be shared.

First Grade

Students will be able to:

  • Research different African-American leaders and identify five facts about their researched leader. “Can projects will be displayed for school gallery walk and also all students will present their project to their class and partner class. *

  • Describe and write different character traits that depict MLK Jr. by citing specific evidence. *

  • Describe and write different character traits that depict Wangari Maathai by citing specific evidence.*

  • Describe and write different character traits that depict Rosa Parks by citing specific evidence

  • Describe and write different character traits that depict Barack Obama by citing specific evidence.

  • Describe and write different character traits that depict Ruby Bridges by citing specific evidence.

  • Identify MLK’s dream, and identify one way they would make the world a better place, using a graphic organizer.

  • Share their writing.

Second Grade

Students will be able to:

  • Learn about and identify important facts about the contributions of famous African-Americans in history (Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, etc.) using short videos and read aloud biographies.*

  • Research famous African-Americans, create a book report, and share with class

  • Demonstrate understanding of the Underground Railroad by answer questions about this topic.

  • Research online, read biographies, and share projects about influential Americans including Barack Obama, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, Louis Armstrong, Oprah Winfrey, Ruby Bridges, and Thurgood Marshall.

  • Research and discuss an influential African-American by completing an African-American Heritage Month bottle buddy project.

  • Recognize, question, and wonder about influential African-Americans through morning meeting.

  • Research and discuss an influential African-American by completing an African-American Heritage Month poster and present orally to the class.

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Northeast School

In our school community

  • In Global Studies, second graders will be reading “The Herd Boy” by Niki Daly. The story is about Nelson Mandela. Students will take part in a performance honoring Nelson Mandela. Songs, creating artwork, reciting lines, South African dances will also be a part of the performance.

  • In art classes, students created artworks with symbols of love, peace and equality to celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday. During February, the conversation will continue with all grade levels. Students will look at the works of famous African-American artists, such as Romare Boarden, Alma Thomas, Clementine Hunter and William H. Johnson, and will create art projects inspired by their work.

  • Our school kicks off Black History Month early with a presentation/assembly honoring Dr. King. Students in grades K-5 participate by singing songs, reciting poetry and showing their knowledge in various ways. 

  • Students in PE will be introduced to the following fitness skills: jumping rope, climbing rope, pushing/ pulling tires, balance beam and scooter obstacle. Each station will provide these physical activity opportunities while teaching awareness of some of the famous inventors and entrepreneurs during Black History Month.

  • In Spanish class, students will build on their homeroom study of famous African-Americans, through the use of biographical books, by targeting specific vocabulary, especially adjectives and verbs, to help them describe the lives and impact these important Americans. 

  • Technology: (K) Students will see a video of the book The Story of Ruby Bridges and will draw a picture of how they would act with Ruby if she came to our school.

    (1) Students will research a famous African-American on Brain Pop. (2) Students will watch a video about Ruby Bridges and will illustrate and write about why she is a hero. (3) Students will explore different websites as they do a web based scavenger hunt for information about Harriet Tubman. (4) Students will explore the Scholastic website for the Underground Railroad and answer a questionnaire. (5) Students will explore various websites and videos guided by a questionnaire focused on the events beginning with Plessy v. Ferguson leading to Montclair becoming a Magnet District.

In our classrooms


Students will be able to:

  • Learn, practice and sing a song about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the school-wide MLK assembly.

  • Read and discuss the facts about MLK’s life that are learned through the Scholastic Issue titled “An American Hero.”

  • Learn about Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges and Harriet Tubman by listening to and discussing biographies of their lives.

  • Complete mini books and crafts based on the facts they have learned.

First Grade

Students will be able to:

  • Learn about two important figures in history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

  • Labout the Montgomery bus boycott and the achievements in the civil rights movement.

  • Make text to self-connections about the changes they would like to make themselves. The students will watch short videos, read magazines, and record their understanding through writing responses. 

Second Grade

Students will be able to:

  • Discuss and recite an MLK poem as part of a school-wide assembly

  • Create an MLK dream project

  • View and respond to MLK Brain Pop video

  • Complete biography booklets (recalling informational text, timeline, character traits, central message, wondering questions, writing a summary)

  • Will read, discuss, and respond to leveled biographies (various African-Americans/accomplishments)

  • Will create and present African-American life size portraits posters (cooperative learning groups)

  • Will respond to Scholastic News reader and complete differentiated response sheets

  • Will create an interactive guided drawing of MLK and complete sentence starter “I Have a Dream…”

  • Resource Room: Students will infer character traits about MLK, Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman.

Third Grade

  • Students watched Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and read multiple books about Dr. King’s life and legacy. Students then created a display of various art and writing activities demonstrating their respect and appreciation for Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

  • In conjunction with our Making Meaning program, students read and researched about Wilma Rudolph’s life and accomplishments. Students created Olympic medals to honor Wilma for her determination to persevere despite her disability.

  • Continuing with the theme of African-Americans in the winter Olympics, students will work in groups to research a winter Olympian and create a poster of their findings.

  • Resource Room:
    Writing: 3th/4th grade
    SWBAT research Notable African-Americans to write an expository paragraph/essay
    Reading: Students will hear and discuss biographies of Ruby Bridges,  Barack Obama, Jessie Owens, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks and answer WH questions on each one.   

Fourth Grade

Students will be able to:

Wax Museum:
Research notable African-Americans and their contributions in the context of United States History.
Write an expository five-paragraph essay based on their research.
Present their information to the school/parent community in the form of a live Wax Museum.*

Fifth Grade

  • MLK Poster:
    • Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Students will examine why the speech was a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement and explain their analysis through a visual drawing or illustration.
    • Hand out a copy of the "I Have a Dream” speech to each student in class. Tell them to follow along as they listen to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give his famous speech and try to picture the rich imagery from his words in their head.
    • Select your favorite phrase or line as your title…THEN illustrate it!
  • MLK Speech: Students in the 5th grade memorized a portion of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and presented it to the NE school population at our annual MLK, Jr. Tribute assembly.

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Renaissance at Rand Middle School

In our school community

  • MLK Day of Service: Monday, January 15, 2018
    Several Renaissance students participated in the annual MLK Day of Service Book Drive as coordinated by our SATp president, Ms. Sawadogo. Students collected over 650 books that were donated to the following organizations: IMANI, the Women’s College Fund, and the United Way.

  • MLK Day:  Assembly – Friday, January 12, 2018
    The Renaissance Staff presented a "MLK Teach-In Program" to the students.  This program was presented in speaker, visual and audio form. Many of our teachers read various historical selections from prominent Civil Rights activists, authors, figures. Follow-up conversations were held in individual classes during the Advisory periods respectively.

  • Black History Dance Performance - Wednesday, February 28, 2018
    Students from the Renaissance Dance Companies and Ensembles will be performing in recognition and honor of Black History Month. Former Dance Educator, Dr. Heard, will be invited as a special guest.

In our classrooms

Sixth Grade

  • Ms. Dunn will be having students conduct research projects on icons of the Civil Rights Movement.

Seventh Grade

  • Ms. Thomas and the 7th grade team will be visiting the African Burial Grounds in NYC as a part of their action research. Students will be provided with several guided questions to navigate their tour, then will be required to complete follow-up summaries of their visit.

  • 7th grade team: During the month of February, students will preview the documentary A Time for Justice about the death/murder of Emmett Till. Teachers will guide students in a general discussion at the conclusion of the video.

  • Ms. Thomas will be showing the movie “Selma” as a part of her unit for Black History with students.

Eighth Grade

  • Mr. Jackson will be co-leading the Black Lives Matter Week with the TURN group. On February 8, 2018, students will have an opportunity to voice their perspectives on this topic.*

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Watchung School

In our school community

  • Every January, students participate in our annual MLK Day assembly. The assembly consists of music, dance, poetry, dramatic skits and written essays that are read to the school community by its author. The assembly also contains an element of multimedia presentations along with a guest speaker. 

  • February brings the celebration of African-American History with an all school celebration. The celebration consists of music, dance, poetry, dramatic skits and written essays that are read to the school community by its author. The assembly also contains an element of multimedia presentations along with a guest speaker. 

In our classrooms


The kindergarten is reading books and stories to celebrate African-American History Month.  We are also discussing MLK Jr in books and videos.  We are talking about peaceful ways and our dreams.  We are also completing a Let's Find Out called An American Hero. 

First Grade

Students will be able to read an African-American biography then create a diorama displaying that historical person along with their profession and/or impact on society. 

Second Grade

Students will be able to:

  • Cereal Box Book Report
  • Write a personally selected African-American Biography.
  • Will read their book and create a cereal box book report at home.
  • Will decorate a cereal box with illustrations and information about the person they chose to do their report on.
  • Will present their report/project to the class and share what they’ve learned.

Third Grade

Students will be able to create a timeline with mini biographies of significant African-American figures.

Fourth Grade

Students will be able to:

  • Create a dramatic interpretation.
  • Create essays inspired by African-American(s).

Self Contained

Students will be able to:

  • Discuss what MLK did and what he fought for during the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Talk and write about a good choice vs. poor choice. 


Students will be able to:

  • Harlem Renaissance
    Art Ann Cavallo ~ Black History Month - K-5
    Will learn about the Harlem Renaissance, its artists, its music and the contributions made to art from this era. Also to experience how art forms i.e. music, visual art, and poetry can all change together and inform each other in the context of history. Students will create works of art by painting to jazz and using images from the Harlem Renaissance to inform their work.

World Language

Students will be able to complete work related to "Feliz Cumpleaños Martin Luther King" and "Quien es Martin Luther King Jr." (Who is book). 


  • Grades 4 and 5: Objective 1. The Underground Railroad. Singing: “Road to Freedom”

  • Grade 3: Objective: 1. Singing Review: African American History Song: “We Shall Overcome.”
    Recorder Arrangement of “We Shall Overcome.”

  • Grade 2: Objective 1” Introduction to Singing: “Follow the Drinking Gourd.”

  • Grade 1: Objective 1: Singing: African American History Month.” When the Saints Go Marching in.”

  • Grade K: Objective 1: The play “Follow the Drinking Gourd.”

  • Drum Flex Class: Students continue to study and perform traditional West African rhythms on traditional African drums. The rhythms are discussed and related to their migration to the United States and the Caribbean.

Fifth Grade

  • Students will research and write an essay about an African-American in the field of STEM.

  • Students will study poetry by African-Americans (including Maya Angelou).

  • Write poems inspired by African-Americans

  • Read literature based on about Middle Passage, slavery, segregation, and civil rights. Titles include, "Freedom Quilts," "A Certain Courage," "On Shirley Plantation."

  • Students will create Heritage Quilt squares that will be put together to create a "Unity Quilt."

  • Students will study the life of unsung hero, Robert (Bob) Moses, a relatively unknown but extremely influential civil rights organizer and activist. He later founded "The Algebra Project" and was a recipient of a "MacArthur Genius Grant." I found a great podcast from NPR about him.

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This page is also available as a printable PDF.

Updated: 2/1/2018