Three students posing in front of bulletin boardFifth grade students in Renee Watson's class have diligently prepared for a short oral presentation on famous African Americans for the past few weeks in honor of Black History Month.

As a part of the oral language component in their curriculum, each student gave a two to three-minute character talk, given in first-person point of view, highlighting major achievements in the life of the African Americans they researched. Students were encouraged to dress in character and create props that were indicative of the time period their character lived, their career, and accomplishments.

Each student began preparing for their oral presentation by selecting a person to research. Watson provided students with an outline to guide their research: introduction, early life, career and accomplishments, comparison and contrast of the life of the person they are researching with the student's life, as well as the researched person's current life or legacy. Students rehearsed before the day of their speech using note cards they had previously prepared.

As part of their writing and reading curriculum, Watson's class wrote a paper on their character and worked through the different stages of writing (outline, rough draft, peer editing, and final draft).

"This activity is one of my favorite parts of the year. In years past, we have had a 'wax museum' portion to the activity where we invite other classes into our classroom to learn more about each African American," shared Watson.

Even though the "wax museum" portion was canceled due to COVID-19 constraints, Watson praised her students on their hard work on researching their character and providing quality background information for Black History Month.