I. Introduction Activity
Divide the class into two groups. This is an arbitrary selection based on a certain color of clothing, type of shoes, color of eyes etc. You decide on how to make the two groups distinct but it is important to be sensitive to any ethnic groups or individuals. Choose one group to have "restricted rights". They must ask permission to use the restroom, sharpen pencil etc. They must sit as a group on one side of the classroom. The other group may do what they like, when they like, without asking permission.
Invariably, the activity will not last very long before students protest the arrangment. Guide the students through a discussion of why it is , as they will proably say "unfair . Also ask students how it felt to be part of the "restricted" group and the "priviledged" group.
II. Culminating Activity
After the students have used their texts, internet sites and whatever other materials on civil rights have them interview a senior citizen to understand this area more in depth. Students can visit local Senior Citizen centers or visit the local library for more local information and leads. Perhaps they can even interview family members. Have students brainstorm other ideas for perspective people to interview.
Students also need to develop a list of questions pertinent to the individual they will be interviewing. They need to take into account the person's background ( ethnicity, employment, service record, where they resided. etc.) Also students need to be cautioned and trained to listen carefully (practicing in class is advisable) and gauge when they may inadvertently go into an area of interest that was not on their list of questions. In other words, students do not need to be concerned about just completing the questions of the interview but need to be aware of the importance of the information that is being given and that the interview may take a completely different direction but also offer valuable insight.
The following resources may be of added interest to teachers and students and while only a few will lead you to other sources if you are so inclined.
African American Odyssey (web site) http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/
Bring History Alive! A Sourcebook for Teaching United States History, edited by Kirk Ankeney
Raiz Fuerte: Oral History and Mexicana Farmworkers, Devra Weber (oral history is one of her interests)
Mutiny, PBS video on African Americans in World War II
The Story of Ourselves, Teaching History through Children's Literature, edited by Michael O'Tunnel and Richard Ammon.
Us and Them , A History of Intolerance in America, published by *Teaching Tolerance , a Project of the Southern Poverty law Center ,1995
Teaching Tolerance magazine (free) http://www.tolerance.org/teach/index.jsp offers excellent information and materials on civil rights.