Lesson Plans (High School and Middle School): Columbia Avenue Riots, 1964

  • Related State Standards
    • 8.3.9.D:Interpret howconflictand cooperation among groups and organizations have impacted the growth and development of the U.S.
    • 8.3.9.A:Compare the role groups and individuals played in thesocial, political,cultural, andeconomicdevelopment of the U.S.
    • 8.2.12.B:Analyze the impact of historicaldocuments, artifacts, and places in Pennsylvania which are critical to U.S. history and the world.
  • Desired Results
    • SWBAT interpret historical events and primary sources considering multiple perspectives and cause and effect relationships.
    • SWBAT identify the causes of the Columbia Avenue Riots through the use of primary sources
    • SWBAT compare and contrast perspectives from the F.B.I. and a citizen of North Philadelphia during the time of the Columbia Avenue Riots
    • SWBAT compose a plan that addresses problems in the students’ everyday lives with consideration to cause-and-effect and different perspectives.
  • Learning Plan: Columbia Avenue Riots (80 mins)
    • Materials
    • Procedures
      • Hook (10mins.): To begin class, ask students to write about a time they can remember when they felt they were mistreated. In the writing, students should include what happened, why they felt they were treated this way, and how it made them feel. After they write about this for 5 mins., ask the students to share their responses with their table groups. Afterwards, ask a few students to share some examples with the class. The purpose of this activity is to introduce the concept of mistreatment that many African Americans were experiencing in the United States at the time of the Civil Rights Movement. By relating their own experiences to the experiences of African Americans, students will gain a better understanding of how African Americans were feeling at the time. In addition, students will offer their individual perspective and the cause-and-effect relationship (mistreatment and feelings) that resulted from their mistreatment.
      • Brief Instruction (10 mins.): This instruction time can be used for the teacher to give some background information on the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and Philadelphia. The resources relate to the Columbia Avenue Riots that occurred Philadelphia in late-August of 1964. Offer a short lecture about the Civil Rights Movement in Philadelphia up to the point of the Columbia Avenue Riots (late August of 1964) to provide students with a historical context from which these activities will revolve.
      • Listening Activity (15 mins.): As a class, students listen to a clip of the interview with Dr. Kenneth A. Salaam. This interview clip details the conditions of North Philadelphia at the time of the riot and the conflicting relationship the neighborhood had with the police. As they are listening, ask students to take notes on the key points that were made by Dr. Salaam. After the clip is over, students would discuss the interview in their table groups and establish a list of conditions detailed by Salaam that may have caused the riot. Students would then present their list to the class and a class list would be established on the board. During this time, open the floor for a brief class discussion about the tape to gauge student understanding. The purpose of this activity is for students to understand cause-and-effect relationship in history.
      • ;Group Activity (20 mins): In their table groups, students read the F.B.I.’s report on the Columbia Avenue Riots. While they were reading, give them some important questions to think about for group discussion: How do the account of the neighborhood and the causes of riots differ from Dr. Salaam’s account? In what ways are they similar? In your opinion, to what extent can we trust this account? To what extent can we trust either account? Why do you think it is important to consider multiple perspectives in any situation? After students were finished discussing the report, ask each group to share their thoughts in relation to the questions and open the class up for discussion. Through this activity students would gain an understanding for the importance of perspective taking in historical thinking.
      • Group Poster Activity (20 mins.): Begin this activity by giving each table group a sheet of poster paper and a marker. After passing out materials, present the Fellowship Commission document on the interactive board, which details some of the solutions that the North Philadelphia community began to develop following the riots. After this, have each group think about some problems they see in their community (it can be in their school or their town). On their poster, the groups would have to propose solutions and briefly explain why these solutions would be beneficial to the community. An important note is for students to consider others’ perspectives and cause-and-effect scenarios when forming their plans. What would be the potential effects (positive and negative) of the plan? Does the plan consider the concerns of all who the problem effects? After forming their ideas on a poster, groups would each be required to come to the front of the room and present their problems and solutions to the class. The idea of this activity is to allow students to use their problems solving skills in real world situations. Students will use what they’ve learned about cause-effect relationships and perspective taking to develop community solutions to their real-world issues. They can relate to a real historical event, and use that information in creating a solution to modern day problems.
      • Review Discussion (5 mins): For the final five minutes of class, briefly review what was completed in class. Then ask students to tell what they learned in relation to the lesson’s objectives and answer any lingering questions that students still have.
High School Lesson Plan (45-50mins.)
Columbia Avenue Riot: Teaching about a historical event with primary sources
  • Standards:
    • 8.2.U.A.: Evaluate the role groups and individuals from Pennsylvania played in the social, political, cultural, and economic development of the U.S.
    • 8.1.U.B.: Evaluate the interpretation of historical events and sources, considering the use of fact versus opinion, multiple perspectives, and cause and effect relationships.
    • 8.2.U.D.: Evaluate how conflict and cooperation among groups and organizations in Pennsylvania have influenced the growth and development of the U.S.
  • Materials:
    • Civil Rights in a Northern City Website (northerncity.library.temple.edu)
    • Selected photos from the riot (teacher’s choose which photos to use)
    • Newspaper Articles (Titled): “Civil Destruction, Not Civil Rights,” “Rumors Fly, Crowds Mill, in North Philadelphia,” “Hate Group ‘Influx’ Probed,” “Extremist Black Nationalists Sought”
    • Dr. Kenneth A. Salaam Interview 10:43-16:25 (or another interview on the site of the teacher’s choice)
    • F.B.I. Report on the riots
  • Hook (5-10 mins.): Through the photo section of the Columbia Avenue Riot component of the website, access photos of teacher’s choosing. While showing different photos, ask students to analyze what they believe is occurring in the photos. Then ask the students a few questions. Where do they think this event occurred? Why do they think this is happening? This activity is intended to test the student’s analytical skills as well asprevious assumptions they may have about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
  • Instruction (10 mins.): These activities can be accompanied by instruction in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The teacher may also want to give a brief lesson on the history of the Civil Rights Movement in Philadelphia, specifically on the Columbia Avenue Riot.
  • Group Activity (10-15 mins.): Make copies of articles listed in materials section for separate groups of 4-5 students per group. Have students read articles and take notes. Then, have students discuss whether or not the riot was an act of the civil rights movement or not. You may want to give students starter questions: What makes an act a part of the civil rights movement? Why do you think people rejected Civil Rights leaders like Cecil B. Moore during this event? Why do you think Black Nationalist groups may have appealed to African American citizens at this time? What other conditions do you think may have incited this and other urban riots of the time? To what extent can the media portrayals of this situation be taken for fact? What do you think the media’s underlying opinion of this event may be? Do you think they have positive or negative attitudes towards those involved? After students have been given ample time to assess these questions, bring everyone together to have a discussion about the articles.
  • Listening Activity (15 mins.): Listen to a clip of the interview with Dr. Kenneth A. Salaam(or another individual on the site that teachers may feel relevant. Have students write down a description of what the neighborhood in North Philadelphia was like at the time of the riots. After the clip is over, have students write about how they believe these conditions may have contributed to the tensions that led to the riots.Then discuss as a class.
  • ·Homework: Have students read the F.B.I.’s report on the riots of the summer of 1964. Create a write up with some evaluative questions. Examples: How does the report’s analysis of the start of riots differ from the newspaper articles and interviewee’s account? In what ways are they similar? Why is it important to gain different perspectives about historical events? How does this aid our interpretation of these events?
Middle School Lesson Plan (45 min.-50 min.)
Columbia Avenue Riot: Using a historical event to teach primary source use
  • Related Standards:
    • 8.1.7.B:Identify and use primary sources to analyze multiple points of view for historical events.
    • 8.2.7.D:Identify local connections and examples of conflict and cooperation among groups and organizations and how this impacted the history and development of Pennsylvania.
    • 8.3.7.D:Examine conflict and cooperation among groups and organizations in U.S. history.
  • Materials:
  • Hook (15 min): At the beginning of class, divide students into groups and give them each a set of pictures from the Columbia Avenue Riot. Ask them to think about what they are looking at. What seems to be happening in the pictures? What are the pictures telling them? What can they learn from these photos? Then, ask the groups to develop a scenario that they might think is happening based off of the pictures. Have them detail why they believe this scenario may have arisen. The idea of this activity is to generate thinking about the significance of primary sources and interpretations that can be gained from them. How can they prove useful to students? Why is it important to identify different points of view?
  • Instruction (10-15 mins): This would be an opportunity for the teacher to offer a bit of instruction about primary resources; it would great to teach them about how they foster analytical thinking and the cautions that have to be used when using them. The teacher may also want to give a brief lesson on the history of the Civil Rights Movement in Philadelphia and the United States if not already underway.
  • Class Activity (15 mins): Project a chosen newspaper clipping (or multiple clippings) from the Columbia Avenue Riot files on the board. Then go through the article with the students and guide them in deriving information from the articles. Based on the articles, what is happening? Who are involved? Where is this taking place? What bias might appear in this source? This activity is designed to help students begin analyzing primary documents. The teacher should provide guidance and work with the students in helping to identify key concepts.
  • Listening Activity (5-10 mins): Teachers should choose a segment from one of the oral histories that details some aspect of the North Philadelphia area at the time of the riots. After the segment is over, have students do a quick writing exercise about what they found significant. Ask them how they thought these certain conditions may have led to a riot? Also, ask students to write a bit about how a primary source such as this can help to give a context to a historic event. This activity may also be done with the assistance of a teacher, if he or she feels it necessary.
  • Homework: Based on the sources that were worked with in class, have students write a paragraph or two about what they learned about the Columbia Avenue Riot. For the next writing portion, have them write a paragraph about the importance that primary sources have in history. Included in their answer should be aspects about the cautions of using primary sources when it comes to perspective and points of view.
Lesson Plan (High School and ELL): Columbia Avenue Riots, 1964


Students will have an understanding of the causes, events, and aftermath of the Columbia Avenue Riots, and how this event is connected to similar events of the civil rights time period and in the present day. This lesson is connected with the larger Civil Rights movement unit that will be taught in class with special emphasis on the social reaction to demand social change. The students are in high school and should have a familiar background with the Civil Rights movement, understanding its basic concept and a few famous people. These students come from a diverse background and may contain English Language Learners.

PA State Standards:
8.3.12 – United States History, 12thGrade, Evaluate how continuity and change has influenced United States history from 1890 to present.

Desired Results

  1. SWBAT describe the causes, events, and aftermath of the Columbia Riot of 1964.
  2. SWBAT compare riots of the Civil Rights to Occupy Wall Street or the Arab Spring
  3. SWBAT formulate the causes of a riot of social unrest.
  4. SWBAT evaluate the relationship of the Columbia Riots to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.


Assessments of student knowledge will be determined through:

  1. Thoughts and opinions of students after group analysis of project will be recorded, as well as evidence of their conclusions.
  2. All students being motivated to participate in class by the discretion and creativity of the teacher.
  3. All projects will be collected and graded after in class presentations so that the teacher may fully assess the quality of work put in by students.

Learning Plan

By the 12thgrade, students should have at least a general understanding of the Civil Rights movement, the volatile situation of the time period, which groups were fighting for rights, key leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., and have a good understanding of current events. High school seniors should also be able to research facts, and connect facts into conclusions in order to prove a thesis.


A. Notebook
B. Computer
C. Microsoft Power Point
D. Classroom projector
E. Access to northerncity.library.temple.edu

This lesson will stretch for 90 minutes and introduce students to the Columbia Avenue Riots as well as push them to connect the Riots to the overall Civil Rights movement and to present day protests. Research strategies and drawing conclusions will be used during the project time. Conclusions drawn by students will be discussed with the entire class.

Phase 1:15 mins
The teacher will start the class with an attention grabbing question related to the topic of the class, such as, “Has anyone seen a riot on TV or in person?” The teacher will take answers as students eagerly share their stories. The students will be familiar the teacher’s participation rules and motivations and contribute their answers. The teacher will transition the discussion with the question, “What causes a riot?” The teacher should encourage educated guesses as well as write these responses on the board. The teacher will then move closer to the class topic by asking, “When did a lot of riots happen in the US?” There will be many correct answers, but when a student arrives at the answer of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the teacher will ask, “Does anyone know of any riots that happened here in Philadelphia during the 1960s?” After a few educated guesses, the teacher will introduce the topic of the Columbia Riots with a PowerPoint presentation using material drawn from the Northern City website and other sources.

Phase 2:15 mins
This will be the instructional phase. The teacher will teach the students information about the causes of the Columbia Avenue Riots, the events that happened during the riots, and the aftermath in Philadelphia. During the instruction, the teacher will only present some of the information while asking students questions through scaffolding to help facilitate thinking so that they may draw conclusions on their own instead of being force fed all their information.

Phase 3:40 mins
Students will break into groups of four. These groups will be pre assigned so that each group will have a mix of slow learners and performers and fast learners and great performers.Students will be asked to review the Northern City website andother sources to create a short PowerPoint presentation about how the Columbia Avenue Riots connects with the Civil Movement of the 1960s, how the riot connects with today’s riots and protests of such as Occupy Wall Streetor the Arab Spring, and how they think a riot can be prevented. Students will research facts from the Civil Rights movement and current events, and use higher order thinking to draw connections between the two events, as well as explain their logic and present their evidence to support their case. Students will be informed that there is no one correct answer for their project in order to encourage a variety of opinions.

Phase 4:20 mins
Students will present their PowerPoint slides with the class and the teacher. They will present the findings of their research, how they feel the riot was connected to the Civil Rights movement, how they think the riot is connected to present day riots and protests, and what they think can prevent riots from happening. Students will provide proof of their conclusions with arguments from their research and with their new knowledge from the instruction portion of the lesson. After the presentations are complete, the teacher will ask for final questions and comments before the end of the class. Each group will e-mail the teacher their power point presentations for further grading by the teacher to assess how much they learned.

This lesson will meet learning needs since it will provide students with new material they have not been introduced to before. The main point of the lesson involves students practicing how to research, and how to discriminate among types and sources ofinformation. Students will practice using evidence to support their thesis, and how to connect what they already know with another topic by finding similarities as well as cause and effect relationships. They will also connect what they know with a current event which helps them realize how the lesson at hand affects their lives.

If there are ELL students in the class, the teacher will teach the class at a slower pace and focus more attention on key events and terms that will be simplified during instruction. The key terms and events will be highlighted in the power point presentation. The teacher will call on the ELL student with easy questions to boost their confidence in the material.

If there are special education students in the class, the teacher will teach the instruction at a slower pace so that they can catch up with the material and place extra emphasis on important and key events, and highlight them during the power point instruction.

For the group work,the teacher will encourage the ELL and special education student to participate in the activity so that they do not miss out on the skills being learned and practiced during the project. They will be excused for using simple vocabulary or not knowing which words to use during the construction of the project or the presentation. They will be allowed to work at a slower pace and would be given more help from their peers or the teacher. Encouragement will be provided, and participation in the same activity as the other student will help the ELL and special education students push themselves to achieve the same standards as the regular students.