A Century of Change
Born in 1868 and living until ____,
W. E. B. Du Bois saw almost a full century of change. During his lifetime,
he would have seen the growth of the railroad, the development of the telephone,
the invention of the automobile, the birth of television and radio, the
development of the flight industry, two world wars, and much more.
Brainstorm a list of changes or developments that have taken place within
the last century. How has the world changed politically? How has technology
developed? What inventions and discoveries have significantly impacted our
lives? How has social thinking changed? What significant legal changes have
Divide the century into decades, and divide class into small groups of four
to six students. Assign one decade to each group.
Ask each group to research the significance of its decade to the century
as a whole. Groups should use pictures or drawings from magazines and students'
original drawings to create a photo collage for their decades.
Each group member should write a short paragraph about one key invention,
discovery, event, or person from the decade. After writing, the student should
ask at least two other group members to check spelling, grammar, and
organization. The student should then revise, write neatly, mount on construction
paper, and add to collage.
As each group finishes, assign them another decade until the entire century
has been covered.
Examine various pieces of art which
emerged from the Harlem Renaissance. (If possible, secure at least one or
two prints per child.) Be sure your collection includes samples of James
Van Der Zee's photography as well as William Johnson and Aaron Douglas's
illustrations. Study the style, texture, and color choices of each artist.
After the class has examined the art work, ask each student to write a two
or three sentence description of one piece, without stating the artist's
name, or the title of the piece. Place all art pieces in a place where they
can be seen by the class. Read each descriptions. Ask the class to guess
which piece the description describes. (The writer may NOT "guess" when his
own description is read.) Give a small reward to any student whose description
is matched to the correct work in three or fewer guesses.
Du Bois's autobiographical writings offer great insight into his life and work. He discusses his early years and the forces that shaped his ideology. His writings let us catch a glimpse of the world as he saw it and help us comprehend the motives behind his writing and other works. His autobiographical writings also reveal what he believed to be his greatest accomplishments in life.
Chart the major events of your life on a time line. Beside each event, briefly summarize its significance. Why has school been an important part of your life? What is your motivation in studying English? etc.
After collecting your data, begin writing your memoirs. Do not just list dates and events. Record only the most important events, and explain why they were important. Tell how each event changed your life, how each event has led you to your present situation, or how you believe each event will influence your future goals and/or actions.
The Greatest Problem of the Century...
"The problem of the twentieth century," wrote Du Bois at the turn of the century, "is the problem of the color line." As we enter a new century, what problem do you believe will be the greatest problem of the twenty-first century? Why? Do you see this as a national or an international problem? Why? What action do you think should be taken to deal with this problem? What other problems might potentially result if this major problem is not addressed? How do you think you can address this problem? Write about it!
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