Lesson Plan: Black History Month & Creating a Self Portrait Using Text

tagxedo finished jpg

In just a few days it will be February and Black History Month. It has always been important for me to celebrate Black History Month with my students. I know that sometimes people find celebrating one race for a month disconcerting. . .I’ve heard people say “Why isn’t there [other racial group] History Month?” That is a long and lengthy debate; and honestly, I haven’t ever found it very informative or worthwhile (other than to identify really unsympathetic people).

I find Black History Month to be a great, inclusive, and authentic way in which to encourage my students to talk about race, culture, and diversity in a positive manner. Some students want to share about African American triumphs and they educate their fellow students while at the same time, opening up the opportunity for students of other racial backgrounds to share similar histories, experiences, or understandings.

Additionally, I was floored when I realized my students didn’t know what “civil rights” meant. Sometimes, we make assumptions that are really unfounded. Why would they necessarily know about civil rights?!

The most important thing to me is that my students develop a sense of global diversity and want to both learn and share about culture. In the spirit of that, I created this digital art lesson.

Step 1: Students take a picture of themselves against a white wall. You could take it the week prior to this lesson.
ms j

Step 2: Introduce the concept of cultural diversity and share the stories of specific African American artists. . .I think it is good to add other “non-dead-white-guy” artist as well!

Step 3: Introduce the project in full to students.

Step 4: Have students complete the “55 Words About Me and My World” worksheet. My favorite prompt: “15 words that reflect how I would like to see the world change are:”
55 Words About Me and My World

Step 5: Have students manipulate their color photo into a high-contrast black and white photo using Microsoft Office Picture Editor.

Step 6: Have students go to www.tagxedo.com and upload their photo using the directions provided (my click-by-click directions are below and available for download!).

Step 7: Have students enter text from “55 Words about Me and My World” worksheet and manipulate the font and color of their portrait. Save.
tagxedo me

Step 8: Students insert their finished text portrait into MS Publisher and add their name beneath their portrait.
tagxedo finished jpg

Step 9: Save and Print!


7 thoughts on “Lesson Plan: Black History Month & Creating a Self Portrait Using Text”

  1. Nice lesson. I will have to try this with my 6th graders. I used to have a problem with black history month just because I felt like we should be studying black history the rest of the year as well. Now, I have a different perspective and think it is nice to take these times to focus on different cultures. There is also a month for Hispanic Heritage, Asian-Pacific American, Native American Heritage and Women's History, maybe more.

  2. I came across your blog after a random “History” and “Lesson Plan” Google search and can't believe what a gem I found! Thank you so much for sharing! I can't wait to use this.

  3. Angie, I'm so glad you made the point that every month we should celebrate Black History! That is so true, and I left it out. And, I think we do forget that every month does recognize another racial group. For this project, I'm trying to get students to think about their own and other cultures as well. . .Hopefully, they will think more of inclusion.Ana, I'm soo glad you find it helpful!! Part of the reason I blog is because I wanted more resources when I was a new teacher. . .And, new or pro teacher, I'm glad you've found something useful.

  4. Love this lesson! With my elementary students, I find it helpful to group projects from the same culture together to cement the concepts and give me longer to present info on the culture rather than squeezing it into one lesson. I put the lessons at a time where they may be learning about that culture somewhere else in school or because of a holiday: fall is Native American studies, winter is Inuit art, January is China, February is Africa, March is Irish/Celtic art, May is Mexico, Spring is Japan, etc. Next year I'm developing a unit on Modern art (20 lessons+) so I'm going to work on having them study women artists and a couple of cultures I haven't introduced the children to before (Tahiti, etc.). Thanks for sharing, Mrs. P (www.createartwithme.blogspot.com)

  5. For the record, there is Hispanic Heritage Month..I doesn't get as much recognition,but it exists. And when you teach a LARGE minority population it helps to acknowledge their culture because many books barely scratch the surface.

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