No More Unfair Bus Laws!

Published March 4, 2013 by Mindi Vandagriff

No More UnFair Bus Laws

This February, my class and I studied a lot of Black History. We kicked off the month with our Black History Month Project and students were enthusiastic about doing more. With the help of BrainPop, Jr., we talked about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks (a few among many). We talked about the courage it took for Rosa Parks to stand up against something she thought was wrong. I noticed that my students couldn’t recall an instance of inequality that even compared to what Rosa Parks went through in 1955. They just didn’t understand. So, I decided to make up some new rules (or so they thought). I shared these new rules with my students:

From now on:

1. Girls will go first in the lunch lines. No boys in front of girls.

2. Girls will get to go out to recess 5 minutes before the boys. Boys also have to line up from recess 5 minutes before the girls.

3. No boys are allowed on the swings. Only girls.

4. Girls get all of the working headphones, boys get what is left over.

5. Girls will have 1 page of homework every week, boys will have 2.

You can imagine the disgust on my boys’ faces. And the look on mine was dead serious. I let my “new rules” sink in for a minute before I said, “That’s how African-American’s felt once segregation was over, but unfair laws remained.”

I wanted students to make the connection between Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the inequalities that he so famously spoke about. I encouraged students to think about if they were riding that bus in 1955. If they were the ones the unfair rules applied to.

We spoke about speeches. We spoke about marches. We spoke about fairness and equalities. And freedom of speech.

I had my students make posters that would demonstrate how they felt about the bus laws in the mid 1950s. I told them about the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. Then I asked them to write a short speech/chant that would show their feelings during the boycott. They pretended like they were there. They spoke from their hearts.

We used the Puppet Pals HD iPad app to bring our projects to life. Students took a picture of their posters and used them as the backdrop. Then they recorded their chants.

Finally, we made QR codes to attach to the posters. They are proudly hanging in our hallway. Readers can scan the QR codes to listen to the students’ projects.

I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that my students understand what Rosa Parks had to endure (as much as a third grader can understand) and what it means to stand up for something you believe in. #ProudTeacherMoment

Photo 1

Students created their posters and short speeches first.

Photo 2

Students took pictures of their posters to use as a backdrop for their “Puppet Pals” show.

Photo 8

Students picked out characters and added them to their show.

Photo 7

They took on the role of African-Americans in 1955 and spoke from their hearts.

Photo 5

Students saved their work on the iPads and shared with each other.

Photo 4

Finally, students used “Bump” to send their projects to me!

Photo 6

Saving paper! Students were so excited to “bump” me their projects!

UPDATE: I’ve added pictures of our display in the hallway. Parents and students used their QR readers on their smartphones/tablets to scan and listen/watch student projects:


Each student made a poster {one that they would’ve carried in the protest} and then we attached their QR code which linked to their protest statements.


Examples of Student Projects

{click the image to view their Puppet Pals video}

No More Unfair Rules!

No More Unfair Bus Laws!

No More Unfair Laws!


3 comments on “No More Unfair Bus Laws!

  • Your kids looked engaged in powerful learning! The technology you have at your school is pretty amazing. To add additional perspectives on racial equity and deepen your students’ understanding, have you thought about electronically communicating with African American leaders and White activists who were part of the Freedom Rides to protest racial segregation?

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