Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Roll With the Punches: It's Not in Black and White

Shirley Baker


Students evaluate the responsibilities of history textbooks in reporting events related to minorities.


The student locates, organizes, and interprets written information for a variety of purposes, including classroom research, collaborative decision making, and performing a school or real-world task.

The student organizes information before writing according to the type and purpose of writing.

The student knows how major historical developments have had an impact on the development of civilizations.


-Several copies of history textbooks (obtain copies of older history textbooks; check district media center as a source)
-Chart paper
-Masking tape
-Textbook Evaluation Worksheet (attached file)


1) Gather history textbooks from different decades. (The district media center is a good resource.)
2) Arrange desks into groups.
3) Place chart paper, markers, and a history textbook in center of each group of desks.
4) Make copies of attached files: Textbook_Evaluation.


1) Discuss the role of textbooks in teaching history. If students are reading ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY by Mildred D. Taylor, review the events that lead to Mrs. Loganís dismissal in chapter 8, specifically her history lessons.

2) Tell students they are going to examine the content of several history textbooks.

3) Divide students into groups of 3 or 4 depending on the number of history books available.

4) Each group should designate a spokesperson, recorder, and timekeeper.
(Note: If you would like to insure that everyone in the group participates in the discussion, provide each student with a given number of poker chips. Each time that a student makes a quality contribution to the group discussion, s/he puts a chip in the center of the table. When all of his/her chips are used, s/he must refrain from talking until all of the groups have used up their chips. Then they take the chips back and begin again until the lesson is completed.)

5) Instruct each group to complete the worksheet in the attached file Textbook_Evaluation. They should also organize the data collected on the worksheet into a chart on the chart paper. (Note: If students have not been exposed to charts, you will have to conduct an embedded mini-lesson prior to breaking into groups.)

6) Groups post their charts on the wall, and each spokesperson reports the groupís findings.

7) After all of the groups have reported out, conduct a debriefing discussion. Guide students to examining the amount of African American history included in older textbooks as compared to more recent ones. Is the amount in recent texts enough?


For the purposes of the Roll with the Punches unit, the assessment at this point is formative. As such, the teacher examines the documents and listens to the presentations for a sense of the level of understanding portrayed by the students.

An alternate assessment is to have students respond individually to the prompt:
-How could the amount of material in textbooks on a given topic impact the way that generation viewed that topic? Do textbook authors have the responsibility of providing a broad range of perspectives?-
Assess the response for level of understanding of the impact:
1=limited understanding

Web Links

Web supplement for Roll With the Punches: It's Not in Black and White
Black and White in US History: A Gray Area

Attached Files

The textbook evaluation worksheet for students to complete in their groups.†††††File Extension: pdf

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