The Civil Rights Movement and Service-Learning: Practicing the Lessons of Activism
This project, which consists of a literature review and a social studies unit, investigates linking education about the Civil Rights Movement to a service-learning project. The social constructivist learning theory and the social reconstruction curriculum theory shape the discussion throughout the project. The Civil Rights Movement is a pivotal part of American history, but it generally receives little attention in public elementary schools. The literature review explores these questions: Why is the Civil Rights Movement important for elementary-aged students to learn about? What content should educators include and what strategies should teachers use when presenting a unit on the Civil Rights Movement? Benefits and challenges of service-learning and sound practices of service-learning are also important issues in the paper. Additionally, there is focus on the role of authentic assessment in a unit on civil rights. The lessons within the unit exhibit the ideas presented in the literature review. The unit is a guide for educators interested in linking a service project to the study of the Civil Rights Movement in a 5th grade social studies class. Together the literature review and the unit emphasize the potential for meaningful learning when connecting civil rights content with service.