This Just In: 3rd-Grade Newscasts Place Students in History
“Third graders are often excited to make deeper connections to stories from history than what they’ve previously known,” says teacher Ashlie. Last week, the past became especially personal in a major video project presented at the 3rd-grade curriculum share. Students pictured themselves in the 1950s and 1960s American South as witnesses to and reporters on major advances against segregation. Small teams of an anchor, field reporter, and interviewee worked together to share facts about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and its organizers, Rosa Parks’ involvement in protests and her local NAACP, Ruby Bridges’s integration of William Frantz Elementary School, and the sit-ins at Woolworth’s lunch counter.
Throughout an extensive unit on civil rights and segregation, students have relied heavily on primary sources to better understand the experiences of citizens, especially young people, living during that era. They compared multiple first-hand descriptions of the same events, noticing what was similar and different between them. Then, in each news broadcast, a fictional witness shared a story based on what the students had gleaned from the true accounts, imagining themselves in each situation.
On top of gaining a deeper comprehension of historical events, the project allowed 3rd graders to practice writing out scripts, orating clearly, and collaborating as a team. They also picked up some skills in iMovie, like choosing a realistic background for their ‘newsroom’ and ‘on the scene’ segments and opting for different visual effects to mimic the look of mid-century television.
Classmates watched the finished broadcasts, together with their families, on a big screen in the gym. Nerves and excitement mingled in the air as they anticipated their screen debuts—some students clutched their hands together in support. After viewing, rounds of applause acknowledged the hard work, empathy, and understanding our 3rd graders demonstrated. In subsequent years, they will explore more about the Civil Rights Movement, culminating in a trip to landmarks across the South during 7th grade.