I used When the Impossible Suddenly Became Possible last year and LOVED it. The stories the students learned in the mixer brought to life how extraordinary this time was and not just something to brush past on our way to our unit on the Second Industrial Revolution. It segued us into that unit as well as into the Great Migration. This curriculum led to excellent “push/pull” conversations, too.
The most powerful story for me was that of Benjamin Montgomery who actually bought Jefferson Davis’, the President of the Confederacy, plantation! What a man! What a story!
For the mixer, I had my students create name badges and they put their interview sheets on a clip board. We sat outside at tables and when one interview was over they raised their hands and moved to a new table to hear a new story. I participated as well and loved interacting with my students.
When we finished, we went inside and each table group discussed what they learned. Then we had a class discussion about what surprised us, what inspired us, and what upset us. Back in their table groups (of 3 or 4) they connected what they learned from the activity to other themes in history and/or today. A second class discussion led to topics The Trail of Tears, immigration, the Holocaust, Japanese internment, and police brutality. They even added in Supreme Court decisions and first amendment rights!
This activity came in the last month of the school year for my eighth grade class and WOW. I was so impressed by the higher-order-thinking it facilitated and inspired by how aware these kids are to what is right with America, and what is still so very wrong.