Investigating Informational Writing and Creating Multimedia Text Sets with She Persisted: Claudette Colvin
BY JENNIFER SANDERS & COURTNEY SHIMEK, ON BEHALF OF THE BIOGRAPHY CLEARINGHOUSE
Many people have heard of Rosa Parks’ role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, but few know that Claudette Colvin resisted bus segregation months before. Lesa Cline-Ransome’s new biography, She Persisted: Claudette Colvin, published by Penguin Random House, highlights 15 year-old Claudette’s role in the civil rights movement of the 1950s. Influenced by her teachers’ lessons on Black history, Claudette was armed with the courage of knowledge when she defied a bus driver’s order to move for a white passenger. When Claudette recalled that moment, she said, “Harriet Tubman’s hands were pushing down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth’s hands were pushing down on the other shoulder… I couldn’t move” (Cline-Ransome, 2021, p.26).
Claudette’s frustration about the injustices she witnessed in her life, including the loss of her younger sister to polio, spurred her actions that brought “the revolution to Montgomery” (2021, p.31). Cline-Ransome highlights these frustrations and mirrors Claudette’s curious, inquisitive nature by employing a question and answer secondary text structure throughout the biography.
Cline-Ransome’s transitional chapter book about Claudette Colvin is currently featured on The Biography Clearinghouse . The crafted teaching guide includes information about three other women who resisted segregated bus policies before Rosa Parks and took the fight to federal court in the 1956 case Browder vs. Gayle. This book debunks historical myths and tells a fuller, more inclusive history of the individual and collective actions of people of color fighting oppression. Two of the plaintiffs in that court case were teenagers: Claudette Colvin was 15, and Mary Louise Smith was 18. In our interview, Lesa Cline-Ransome noted the connection between these young women’s activism and today’s young people serving as leaders of environmental and civil rights movements. This book can serve as a springboard for exploring present-day youth social activism with students.
Operating within the Investigate, Explore, and Create Model of the Biography Clearinghouse, we designed teaching ideas to accompany She Persisted: Claudette Colvin.
If you have 1-2 hours...
If you have 1-2 days...
If you have 1-2 weeks...
After reading She Persisted: Claudette Colvin, have students do a quick write about the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Ask them to generate questions they still have about the movement or these events in history.
As a whole group, create an anchor chart of students’ questions.
Group 1: Put students into 4-6 groups (group A, B, C, etc.) and have them select one text from the set above. Give each group time to read their text, select important information, and look for answers to their personal questions (from the 1-2 hours activity).
Group 2: Regroup the students with one person from each original group in each new group (i.e., one student from A, B, and C, etc.). Each student shares what they learned from the text they read with their first group. Have each group select one question they want to explore about the event and try to answer during this group share.
Debrief with the whole class about what they learned.
Using Cline-Ransome’s writing as a mentor, create a shared book that includes questions students asked and answers they found during the jigsaw.
Students can title each chapter with the question, like Cline-Ransome did in She Persisted: Claudette Colvin, and have students answer that question in that section.
“Publish” this book and display it for visitors to read and/or place in your classroom library.
To see more classroom possibilities and helpful resources connected to She Persisted: Claudete Colvin, visit our Book Entry at The Biography Clearinghouse. Additionally, we’d love to hear how the interview and these ideas inspired you. Email us at email@example.com with your connections, creations, questions.
Kristo, J. V., & Bamford, R. A. (2004). Nonfiction in focus: A comprehensive framework for helping students become independent readers and writers of nonfiction, K-6. Scholastic Professional Books.
Courtney Shimek is an Assistant Professor in the department of Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies at West Virginia University. She has been a CLA member since 2015.
Supporting PreK-12 and university teachers as they share children’s literature with their students in all classroom contexts.
The opinions and ideas posted in the individual entries are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of CLA or the Blog Editors.
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