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Freedom on the Move, Continuing the March Toward a More Perfect Union

By Alice Kurtz - Posted Mar 1, 2006
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Discovery Communications, Inc., Bethesda, MD; Phone: 800/323-9084; Internet: http://www.discoveryschool.com/freedompreview/.

This program was developed in partnership with Discovery Communications, the Faith and Politics Institute (http://www.faithandpolitics.org/), and Freddie Mac (http://www.freddiemac.com/).

Price: Available to all U.S. middle schools at no cost.

Audience: 6-8 grade students.

Format: Multimedia learning kit that includes a DVD and printed materials.

Minimum System Requirements: A computer with a DVD player or a television with a DVD player. The DVD includes printable resources and links to Internet sites; a computer with a printer and Internet access would be helpful.

Description: Freedom on the Move, Continuing the March Toward a More Perfect Union offers students a multimedia experience focused on the important historical events associated with the civil rights movement, as well as an exploration of the issues of discrimination, prejudice, and bias.

Reviewer Comments:

Access: I experienced no problems with the DVD. Access Rating: A

Content/Features: The Freedom on the Move learning kit includes a teacher's guide with four cross-curricular lessons that highlight the past, present, and future of civil rights; student magazines and classroom posters that introduce learners to young students who have made a difference in the civil rights movement; and a DVD that chronicles the history of the civil rights movement through archival materials and the voices of today's students.

The DVD is the highlight of the kit. The main feature of the disc is a two-part documentary that uses archival photos, interviews, and films to tell the story of the civil rights movement.

Part one, The Role of Youth in the Struggle, is a powerful 24-minute presentation that focuses on the historic events of the civil rights movement in which students played an important role. This segment presents archival black and white film footage and photos.

Part two, Overcoming Racism, is a 26-minute segment focused on contemporary students' experiences with racism, prejudice, and bias. This mostly color video piece offers interviews with students talking about today's issues interwoven with excerpts of speeches from Martin Luther King Jr., President Lyndon Johnson, and others. This material defines the concepts clearly, but the vocabulary and narration will be challenging for most 6th grade students. 

Both segments require teacher preview and class preparation time; students should be prepared for the violence and language in some of the films.

The Join Us on the Journey segment provides brief first person accounts of specific civil rights movement events and examinations of landmark sites in civil rights history.

The DVD also offers a student quiz, access to two free videos (available from http://www.teachingtolerance.org/resources), and a printable teacher's manual and student magazine. The DVD can be captioned if needed.

The curriculum package includes one teacher's manual and a class set of magazines. The teacher's manual provides tips for using the DVD; four lessons covering the past, present, and future of civil rights; and reproducible student worksheets. The lesson plans address academic standards from the National Council for the Social Studies, United State History Standards, and National Standards for Civics and Government. These standards would obviously provide alignment with any state or local benchmarks.

Each of the lessons is divided into five parts: Think (an introductory activity to generate discussion); Act (a standards-based activity to teach the lesson's content); Reflect (ideas for making the lesson connect to students' lives); Connect (strategies for extending ideas from the lesson into the home or community); and Explore (additional sources, including Internet sites, from which students can pursue the topic in more depth).

The lessons require at least two class periods for completion. The curriculum provides sources for all the necessary materials, questions for discussion, and an assessment rubric to measure student performance. The first lesson, for example, includes a list of Web sites that offer access to the primary source documents related to that lesson.

Internet access is needed for the activities. Teachers should plan accordingly if this technology is not available. Most of the lessons could be adapted for use without an Internet connection; segments of the lessons could certainly be used without online access. 

The material makes a nice link from the classroom learning activity into the community and students' lives. Students are asked to interview older family members, to share today's music as an extension of the civil rights movement, or to consider issues that may currently exist in their schools.

The student magazine offers profiles of students who made a difference in their community, school, or nation and includes interviews with students who participated in civil rights events. The magazine also lists Web sites that demonstrate what other students around the nation are currently doing to make positive changes in society. The poster is a mirror of the student magazine. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: This kit has everything needed to present a powerful unit on the civil rights movement. The DVD is simple to use. It can be played on a TV with a DVD player or in a computer.

Each segment is marked with the running time, which is very helpful when planning lessons. The teacher's manual is complete, well written, and easy to work with. All necessary materials are either provided in the manual or are available for online download. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: The DVD loads easily and offers a Help menu. A link to online help and tech support is featured on the disc. The manual and student booklet are provided in Adobe format. A computer is required to access the online links and print materials. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Freedom on the Move, Continuing the March Toward a More Perfect Union is a great addition to any middle school classroom. The lesson plans are very well designed and thoughtful; they bring the historical perspective of the civil rights movement into the students' personal lives and community.

The lessons are challenging, but they provide students with opportunities for group and independent study, including discussion and individual reflection. The DVD is powerful. The teacher's guide is well written and easy to follow.

A nice companion to this curriculum kit would be the January 2006 Kids' Discover Magazine with a focus on civil rights. The magazine would provide a great preview opportunity before showing the DVD. In addition, the publication's many visuals could serve as an alternate resource for students with special learning needs or ELL students.

This multimedia curriculum package provides innovative and inspirational teaching materials that demonstrate what young people have accomplished in the movement toward civil rights, as well as what is yet to be done. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Alice Kurtz, 5/6 grade teacher, Irving B. Weber School, 3850 Rohret Road, Iowa City, IA 52246; Kurtz.Alice@iccsd.k12.ia.us.


 
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