Grade 2 Engages in History of Civil Rights in America

For the 2020-21 school year, The Windward School’s Social Studies team refreshed the second-grade unit on civil rights so the curriculum would follow history’s chronological sequence of events. Throughout January and February, teachers will broadly trace the history of civil rights in the United States beginning with the Underground Railroad and leaders Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth to the Civil War era and will conclude with lessons on school segregation and the roles of notable figures such as Ruby Bridges, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks.  

The second-grade lessons and activities will serve as an introduction to these topics, and further examinations into the theme of civil rights are explored at a deeper level in subsequent grades.  

At Manhattan Lower School, the students gained an extensive background on the institution of slavery and the treatment of enslaved people in America, while also highlighting those who led the corresponding Abolitionist Movement with courage and resilience. To reinforce the history lessons, the second graders would complete various writing activities with facts about Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth.  

“It’s amazing how the second graders are becoming more aware of the inequalities and injustices that have been a part of our country’s history,” said Ms. Fairbank, Manhattan Lower School Grade 2 Teacher. “Learning about our past helps inform our students about how they can work to make a more just and equal world today.” 

“Learning about our past helps inform our students about how they can work to make a more just and equal world today.” 

To enhance their understanding about segregation and integration, the Westchester Lower School classes read the book Martin’s Big Words, a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. compiled from quotes from some of his most famous speeches.  

Following the story, the students examined pictures of life in the United States during segregation and those during integration to have a better visual understanding of how American society was changing.  

"Our students don’t realize that these [civil rights] events happened in recent history and are always shocked by what took place,” said Ms. Iodice, Westchester Lower School Grade 2 Team Leader. “Our second-grade teachers love teaching about the Civil Rights Movement because it is important for students to understand that, even as children, they can make a difference in the world, similarly to how Ruby Bridges did.”