HM - Feb. 2014 - Kassinger

Partners in History


Newseum Digital Classroom:  “Making a Change”


Participants in the civil rights movement used the First Amendment to advocate for equality and justice for African Americans. It started small, but through the use of the five freedoms of the First Amendment — religion, speech, press, assembly and petition — the civil rights movement grew in strength and reach and attracted the attention of the news media.

At the Newseum, we celebrate the legacy of the civil rights movement in permanent and changing exhibits that examine the era through the lens of the First Amendment.  Online, the module Making a Change: The First Amendment and the Civil Rights Movement  provides free access to rich Black History Month content in the Newseum Digital Classroom.  The module is designed to assist teachers and students across the country with their study of the movement through three learning lenses: historical connections, media literacy and civics and citizenship. Intuitive and engaging interactives allow students to delve into the site independently, while the lesson plans support subsequent conversations and collaborations based on their explorations.

The interactive timeline traces the history of the civil rights movement using primary source documents. Students can browse 100 events, read descriptions, be challenged by inquiry-based questions, and view hundreds of historical newspapers, newsreels, photographs, magazines and more. Teachers can use the timeline in conjunction with one of the standards-aligned lesson plans provided or use it as a research tool within a lesson of their own.  Additionally, we are piloting a program to publish student work. Students are invited contribute original timeline entries to expand the Digital Classroom and connect classrooms across the country. The next submission deadlines are March 15 and May 15, 2014. 

The media map examines the role of the free press during the civil rights movement through the lens of media literacy. Students can compare how newspapers in different regions of the United States covered six events, including Brown vs. Board of Education, the Little Rock Nine and the March on Washington.  By manipulating the map, students will be able to identify the impact of cultural, technological and geographic context on historical and contemporary media coverage in the United States and abroad, and respond to issues of truth, bias and reliability. Students also have the opportunity to create and submit their own “remixed” news stories for the years covered by the media map. 


To explore civics and citizenship, the Newseum partnered with GlogsterEDU to help students document, analyze and respond to ongoing civil rights issues around the globe by creating unique, multimedia posters.  Teachers can set up free GlogsterEDU accounts for their students through the partnership. Posters may include petitions, banners, meeting agendas, sheet music, group photographs and more that show how civil rights participants exercise their five First Amendment freedoms today. We encourage teachers and students to share their Glogs with other classrooms across the country. 

The content in the module is accompanied by standards-aligned lesson plans. They include classroom-ready resources and standards-alignment charts with citations for Common Core and national history, civics, government and English standards.     

The Digital Classroom is free for teachers and students upon registration. Other resources in the Digital Classroom include: Decision 2012, a module on the 2012 presidential election; video lessons on the First Amendment, history and journalism; and downloadable primary sources from the Civil War and women’s suffrage movement.

For more information about the Digital Classroom, please visit  If you have any questions about using the civil rights module or the Digital Classroom in general, please contact Anna Kassinger at or 202/292-6650.