Monday, December 1, 2008

Remembering Rosa

Americans have always had a dream for a better life, a better world. Following a dream can be a difficult endeavor. On this day in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, an ordinary citizen with extraordinary courage challenged the status quo to persue a better life for all Americans. In a remarkable act of civil disobedience, a humble seamstress confronted a repressive code of behavior heretofore accepted by many Americans. Her actions made the nation examine its resolve to insure equal rights for its citizens. Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, a normally timid person, stood her ground. By refusing to obey a bus driver's order to give up her seat to make room for a white passenger, she effectively ignited the modern Civil Rights Movement. No matter what you teach, take some time today to use technology to help your students explore this important milestone in our nation's history.

Essential questions (as described by Grant P. Wiggins and Jay McTighe in their book Understanding by Design) are the "big ideas" wrapped up in questions that humans continue to ponder over the course of a lifetime. Such questions lack easy answers. They can be used to engage students and encourage them to seriously ponder the core or the essence of a topic being studied. Essential questions are extremely useful in revealing what pupils think about a topic. A few such questions related to the topic of equality and challenging norms include:
  • What are the most important skills for understanding what's right and what's wrong?
  • How do we know when we should make a stand for a belief?
  • What are the most important rights, responsibilities, and privileges of citizenship?
  • What must happen in order for equality to become commonplace in our world?
  • Will equality ever become commonplace in our world? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • In what ways do prevailing conditions in society begin to give rise to change?
  • What is this most important role of leadership in bringing about an important change?

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