Students as historians, back to school assignment

One of the greatest challenges that history teachers have is to make long-ago events relevant and interesting to 21st century students.

We’ve had a lot of success by beginning the year with a personal history assignment. We’ve done several versions of this lesson, sometimes having them write an autobiography as a way of understanding that history is merely a series of stories about the world, similar to their own lives. We’ve had them conduct an oral history interview with an elder they feel close to, in order to experience the process firsthand.

This time we are including a lesson that requires students to chose an event that has helped shaped who they are today, in order to differentiate significant moments in their own history.

For more classroom resources check out our catalog:

1965 Alabama Literacy Test

literacy test herblockIntimidation was rampant throughout the south the first half of the 20th century to prevent voting by “undesirables”, ie African Americans, Latinos, and poor whites.

Because local governments controlled voting requirements, it varied by locale as well as by the whims of the registrars.

Some discriminatory methods included poll taxes, grandfather clauses, voucher system, and literacy tests.

In Alabama there were many versions of a literacy test which ranged in difficulty. We have included a copy of an impossibly hard exam given in Alabama in 1965.

We have included the questions and answers.

This would be good for an introductory lesson, even for the first day of school, to show in part why learning history and government is so important.

Check out our Civil Right Movement PowerPoint.