The Nashville Sit-Ins — 1960
— A Set-Up-the-Sub Lesson Plan Using a Film Clip from A Force More Powerful
Subject: U.S. Civil Rights Movement -- Nashville Sit-ins
Age: 12+; Middle and High School levels.
Length: Film Clip: 30 minutes; Lesson: Two 45-55 minute class periods; can be reduced to one class period by eliminating most of the class discussion and the comprehension test.
When the classroom teacher is absent, this lesson can provide an important learning experience, as well as an opportunity to keep students interested and working.
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students will learn the history of the Nashville sit-ins of 1960, from the training the students received, through the sit-ins themselves, to the negotiations that led to the integration of restaurants in downtown Nashville. Students will also become acquainted with the concept of non-violent mass action through the example of the sit-ins. Students will retain strong mental images of the early Civil Rights Movement by watching it unfold on film.
Rationale: An understanding of modern history requires knowledge of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, the important role students played in the quest for equal rights for black Americans, and the significance of nonviolent mass action as a force for political and social change. The Nashville sit-ins of 1960 were a pivotal event in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
This sample is just a taste of the Set-Up-the-Sub Lesson Plan to the Nashville Sit-ins.
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Description of the Film Clip: This is the first segment of the documentary, A Force More Powerful. The film describes six occasions in the 20th century in which nonviolent mass action changed governments or promoted social reform.
How to Use This Guide:
TWM suggests that teachers keep a pre-selected film in their classroom along with any handouts, readings, and other materials that a substitute will need. Be sure to get all of the required permissions from school administrators to allow this snippet to be shown.
As you adapt this lesson to the needs and abilities of your classes, modify the Instructions to the Substitute to take account of any changes you make. [The complete Set-Up-the-Sub Lesson Plan has a link to a word processing file which contains the Instructions.]
- This lesson plan divides easily and the second class period can simply be eliminated
- Arrange and number the Discussion Questions in order of priority.
- If the handout is to be read aloud in class, modify instruction #3 and specify the method of choosing students to read to the class.
Instructions to the Substitute:
1. Tell students that the class will cover the Nashville sit-ins of 1960, an early chapter in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
2. Play the movie A Force More Powerful from the beginning to the end of the segment entitled "We Were Warriors - Nashville, 1960." This will take about 30 minutes.
3. After the snippet has been shown, pass out TWM's Handout Relating to the Nashville Sit-ins. [A link to the Handout is provided in the Guide.] Give students fifteen minutes to read it. Use any time that is left for class discussion. See Discussion Questions below. Start with the first discussion question. You will probably not have time for many of the questions. Leave a note about which questions were discussed.
4. If you are the substitute for a second day, hold a class discussion. Stop the discussion 40 minutes before the end of the period.
5. Hand out the questionnaires for TWM's Nashville Sit-ins Comprehension Test provided with the Guide. [When you purchase a subscription and access the Guide you will be directed to a link to a word processing file which contains the comprehension test.] Tell students to write the answers, along with their name, the date and the period, on a separate sheet of paper. They should not write on the questionnaire. Tell students that if they don't finish the test in class, they can finish it as homework. Allow 40 minutes for the test. Students who have completed the test within the thirty minutes should hand them in. Students who have not completed the test in class should take the test questionnaire home.
Discussion Questions with Answers
Points that will be covered in a thorough class discussion are set out in the Suggested Response section. The questions on the comprehension test are identical in most cases to the discussion questions. Not all discussion questions are included in the test. The Suggested Responses are examples of excellent answers to the test questions.
1. Segregation can be defined as the separation of black and white Americans in social, political and economic spheres of life. Describe: (a) the ways in which blacks were harmed by segregation, (b) the ways in which segregation harmed whites, and (c) the way in which the failure to give equal rights to black Americans harmed the nation.Suggested Response:
(a) Segregation, particularly in education and employment, denied black Americans the opportunity to realize their full potential, to be paid as they deserved for their work, and to live the American Dream. Segregation sent a message to blacks that they were inferior to other Americans; it was a mark of inferiority that was devastating to the self-esteem of many. It was a constant and irritating reminder that blacks were considered second class citizens by their white compatriots.
(b)For whites, segregation betrayed the political and cultural ideals of the nation. Relegating people to second-class citizenship because of their race undercut basic ethical lessons taught at home and in churches and temples. It is harmful to live in a way that takes unfair advantage of others. This harm may be more subtle than the harm from segregation suffered by blacks, but it is nonetheless real.
(c) For the United States as a community, segregation betrayed the principles of the Declaration of Independence. By denying African Americans an equal opportunity to better themselves and to make contributions to society, segregation denied the United States of the full benefits of the talents possessed by its black citizens.
The Set-Up-the-Sub Lesson Plan for The Nashville Sit-Ins - 1960 contains a total of ten discussion questions with suggested responses which will round out the lesson plan and help students grasp the importance of what occurred at the lunch counters of Nashville in 1960.
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A Force More Powerful shows the classes in nonviolence taught by civil rights leader James Lawson when students were being prepared to participate in the Nashville Sit-ins of 1960.
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