Look Up! Images in the Classroom

Look Up! Images in the Classroom

by Gwendolyn J. Cooke Phd


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Look Up! Images in the Classroom by Gwendolyn J. Cooke Phd

Too often, the children of the poor do not perceive highly accomplished men and women as realistic role models for themselves. By examining profiles of African American elected officials and other role models in the curriculum presented in Look Up! Images in the Classroom, students may be encouraged to enlarge their visions and embrace the fact that anything the mind can conceive and believe can be achieved.

Author Gwendolyn J. Cooke shares the details of Look Up!, a motivational intervention strategy designed to instill pride and foster high academic achievement and socially responsible behavior. It accentuates the positive outcomes of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the civil rights movement. The program exposes economically disadvantaged African American children to appropriate role models through photographic images and selected biographical information of elected officials at each level of government.

Lesson plans, hands-on activities, and coordinating website references are included to enhance the students’ learning experiences to show that success is possible through hard work, perseverance, creativity, and clear planning.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491714010
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/11/2013
Pages: 102
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.24(d)

Read an Excerpt


By Gwendolyn J. Cooke

iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2014 Gwendolyn J. Cooke, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-1401-0


The "I Have a Dream" Connection

Having an understanding and appreciation for one's culture can be both uplifting and motivational. Thus, it is appropriate to take advantage of a historic fact that children in the Kansas City metropolitan area have before them that has not been experienced by any other generation since the founding of the United States of America. Consider this:

• Citizens of Kansas City, Missouri, have three African Americans in elected leadership positions.

• In neither of the jurisdictions in which the leaders reside is the population predominately African American.

• The fact that the population that elected the officials is not the majority gives credence to the dream articulated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that his children (and thus all African American children and youth) would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character ("Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream Speech," accessed September 1, 2013, http:// Dr.MartinLutherKing.net).

Percent African American

United States 12.6
Fifth Congressional District 24.0
Kansas City, Missouri 31.2
State of Missouri 11.2

Throughout the American experience, African Americans have sung songs, preached sermons, and written stories, biographies, essays, and poems about their dreams of liberation from slavery and discrimination through the laws and proclamations promulgated by local, state, and federal governments. Thus, the act of dreaming becomes an important element in African Americans' achievements. The brief profiles of President Barack Obama and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver in this manual illustrate how important it is to dream big about one's future. Throughout the teaching and delivery of the content of the lessons in this book, students having a dream is imperative.

Students need to be taught the fundamentals of dreaming. In Alice in Wonderland, students are encouraged to believe in impossible things. In Langston Hughes's poem "Dreams," failing to dream is linked to birds not being able to fly and barren fields frozen with snow Langston Hughes, BrainyQuote.com, Xplore Inc., 2003, accessed September 4, 2013, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/ quotes/l/langstonhu390939.html).

T. E. Lawrence states that there are two types of dreamers—those of the day and those of the night. Greater outcomes, however, are predictable for dreamers of the day because of their proactive behavior. Teachers may access Lawrence's observation to appreciate the importance of increasing students' appreciation for dreaming as regards career exploration (T. E. Lawrence. BrainyQuote. com, Xplore Inc., 2013, accessed September 4, 2013, http://www. brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/telawren130039.html).

What does it take to become a "dreamer of the day"?

Dreams—what are they? The author of this book used to dream a lot about what she wanted to be when she grew up. When you teach a lesson in this manual, use the above quotations about dreams to introduce your lesson and ask students these questions:

• Do you dream about what you want to be when you grow up?

• What do you dream about being? Maybe your dream is to be a great doctor, a football player, an actress, an astronaut, a lawyer, a minister, a nurse, an engineer, or perhaps a computer systems expert?

You are furthermore encouraged to engage students in a discussion about dreams. Langston Hughes's poem "Harlem" (1951, 1959) provides imagery that is easily understood.

The suppression of dreaming can be detrimental as expressed in the poem "Harlem." Students need to be exposed to a variety of ways an unfulfilled dream may manifest itself. (The erosion of this process is presented through imagery, resulting in this recommendation that teachers access the poem at Langston Hughes. BrainyQuote. com, Xplore Inc, 2013. Harlem by Langston Hughes: The Poetry Foundation http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175884

Hard work? Optimism? Persistence? In the book The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours, Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, says that there are at least twenty-five lessons for success in life. Consider highlighting ten of Ms. Edelman's twenty-five lessons to emphasize the strong link between one's behavior and the achievement of goals. It took having a very specific goal for President Obama and the elected officials profiled in this manual to gain voters' support to win the elections that they did. Their tenacity exemplifies the thinking that undergirds this manual—thus, the reason for this book. Provide students with a copy of the ten lessons, which appear in appendix E.

Common sense is required when using the lessons herein with elementary students. For example, second and third graders may not be able to digest and understand the ten lessons cited without revision using words appropriate for these grade levels.

Marian Wright Edelman founded and has remained the president of the Children's Defense Fund, widely considered the most powerful national force for children in this country. She has won numerous awards for her work, including a MacArthur Prize and Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award.

Indeed, educators who hang pictures of President Barack Obama and other role models in their classrooms become "dreamers of the day."

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays (1983) says the following about life:

It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn't a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to have no idea to capture. It is not a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin.

I encourage you to let Ms. Edelman's "Lessons for Life" and Dr. Benjamin E. Mays's statement on life become your mantras. Go forth and be "dreamers of the day," dangerous men and women—and act on your dreams with open eyes to make them possible.


A Motivational Strategy: Look Up!

Look Up! is a motivational intervention strategy designed to instill pride and foster high academic achievement and socially responsible behavior in students generally and African American students, especially African American boys, specifically. By using the tools contained herein and eight-by-ten photographs and specifically selected biographical information, educators and volunteers will introduce two to three elected officials, including President Barack Obama, as role models.

Some people ask, "Why elected officials?" While these leaders tend to have great strengths, too often they have been shown to have severely flawed judgment when making certain moral and fiduciary decisions that call their integrity into question. Let this author quickly add, however, that proportionally, the percentage of unethical black elected officials is comparable to that of other unethical elected officials. Nevertheless, not since Reconstruction has the opportunity presented itself for adults to celebrate, unabashedly, African Americans elected to public offices of trust!

Barack Obama is the first African American president. This fact calls for celebration. It is also of note that, in ten states and Washington, DC, the mayor and one or more congresspersons are also of African American descent. Not surprisingly, the majority of voters in the communities are not always fellow minorities (e.g., African American).

Use of this book with diverse student populations is recommended. It is an especially appropriate instructional tool for use in schools where the majority student population receives Title I services. In short, the materials are designed for use with economically poor children (i.e., children of poverty). It is these children who most need a plethora of images of successful people whose backgrounds are similar to theirs. In short, they need to see people who have overcome economic and educational challenges in spite of limited resources and who have seized and continue to seize the day!

Among the nonacademic factors found to have an effect on the academic success of urban youth, particularly boys, are attitudes about self and learning (Cleveland 2011). Attitudes found in those who struggled academically include lack of motivation, lack of perseverance, and low self-esteem. Presenting students with successful role models, such as those in the Look Up! curriculum supplement, would afford them the opportunity to learn about individuals who have beaten the odds and overcome obstacles similar to their own. An intended outcome would be a reversal of persistent negative attitudes about self, which ultimately impact participation in learning.

The instructional activities contained herein may be used for enrichment in conjunction with lessons focusing on social studies standards, as well as English/language arts standards, during Black History Month and/or as part of the regular instructional program focusing on community building. Furthermore, it is recommended that this focused intervention begin in grade two and culminate at the conclusion of grade eight.


Required Materials

a. Pictures

One eight-by-ten head shot of each elected official you plan to telescope to the class (e.g., one head shot of the president, one of the mayor, and one of the congressperson you will be introducing to the class/group).

Visit the elected official's website, obtain a picture, enlarge it, and copy it on quality photo-paper stock. Place the two or three pictures in separate frames. You will use the pictures one at a time or all three on several occasions when you compare and contrast the experiences of the elected officials.

What is critical to the success of this intervention strategy is the hanging of the pictures of the elected officials. After the class has discussed the profile content and questions and after each student has physically held the pictures and made comments about them, the pictures should then be hung in a prominent place in the classroom/ meeting area. Throughout the mentoring/teaching experiences with the students, many teachable moments using the role models will present themselves.

b. Biographical Profiles

You will need biographical profiles for the two or three elected officials in your area of the country. You may also use or modify any of the other profiles focusing on neighboring or high-populated minority states where citizens have elected African American officials at these levels of government:

• executive the president

• local the mayor

• legislative congressman/congresswoman

Biographical profiles of the president and the two profiled politicians for Kansas City, Missouri, are found in appendix A.

Reaching Visual Learners

A school's entire student population can Look Up! and view the president's picture in any classroom/counseling area where the students find themselves. If the entire school population is the target audience, who will discuss the extraordinary circumstances of elected African Americans in their jurisdiction? It is recommended that pictures of the president be posted:

In individual classrooms—Just like we see the president's picture in the United States' Post Office and the Office of Social Security Administration (when this author was growing up, those were the two places she always saw a picture of the president).

In common areas—If posting in individual classrooms is not possible, post the pictures in common areas in the school: the front entrance of the school, the media center, the guidance counselor's wing or office, the main office and/or hallway, the gym, the auditorium, and the little theater if the school has one.

In the guidance center—The president's picture can be used during career exploration sessions and with counseling and guidance groups focused on a variety of topics.

Geographic Tools

A globe and a large map of the United States are needed to show students where the elected officials live and to illustrate where the United States is in regard to Indonesia and Kenya.


National Application of This Manual

Because this manual was first used in Kansas City, Missouri, with students in attendance at one charter school, the positions of congressperson and mayor are those of the elected officials in Kansas City, Missouri, as of 2012. Charter schools in Missouri are public schools funded by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Charts containing elected officials at two of the three levels in other states are also included in this manual. This information is a useful guide for educators to expand their introduction of role models who overcame the odds in the political arena. After studying the profiles, it should be easy for those not living in Missouri to replicate the examples substituting elected officials from their jurisdictions. An intended outcome is that African American students across the United States will gain valuable information about elected officials in their regions (see appendix C).

Jurisdictions that do not have African American elected officials at the three levels of government are encouraged to use the fact charts (appendix C) as well. For the most immediate positive outcome, it is recommended that educators use their local and state role models first. If your location/city/town/county/state is not exemplary, use the information for states in your region first. Of course, President Obama can be used as a role model independently of all other elected officials. The president's biography makes for great storytelling (see appendix A)!


Giving Life to the Lessons That Follow

Using photographs (pictures) to focus on achieving African Americans as a tool to motivate students to excel at high levels is a goal worthy of pursuit. As you have purchased this book to use as a guide, the author is confident that you see the broader implication of using the strategy to focus on any trio of persons excelling in a variety of occupations. For example, instead of using elected officials as the icons that are posted and celebrated in classrooms throughout your school, you may use people from any (or all) of the career clusters that follow:

Performance Area
Achieving African Americans

The Visual Arts
Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Cadlett,

Benny Andrews

The Performing Arts
Regina Carter (violinist), Miles Davis
(trumpeter, bandleader, and composer),

Bobby McFerrin (conductor and

Science & Technology Mae Jemison, Guion Bluford, Ronald

McNair (all astronauts)

Dr. Ruth Simmons (Brown University,
college president), Booker T.

Washington (founder of Tuskegee

Institute), Mary McLeod Bethune
(founder of Bethune Cookman College)

Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou,

Langston Hughes

A much longer list is possible, but you get the intent. Choose as many fields of study or endeavor as you like (e.g., art, drama, music, advocates, civil rights leaders, actors, ministers, scientists, dancers, comedians, etc.). Go for it! What is important is that you are using visuals to capture students' attention, shape their behavior, and heighten their motivation.

The overarching message to students, as you teach the lesson to your class, is expressed in this observation made by Purlie in Purlie Victorious, Act III, Epilogue (1961):

I find in being black, a thing of beauty; a joy; a strength; a secret cup of gladness—a native land in neither time nor place—a native land in every Negro face! Be loyal to yourselves; your skin; your hair; your lips, your southern speech, your laughing kindness—all are Negro kingdoms, vast as any other.


Lesson plans for grades two through eight follow. Teachers of younger students, kindergarten and grade one, will need to adapt the lessons since these students' literacy skills are not advanced sufficiently (reading independently) to complete the tasks as described. It is recommended that teachers review the plans and gather the needed materials prior to teaching the selected lesson. Recommended as well is the length of time that should be allocated for the delivery of the lesson plan. Adherence to the recommendations will increase the likelihood that students will

• retain the information shared,

• ask insightful questions, and

• share the knowledge they have learned voluntarily.

Finally, the lessons have been taught to students in the respective grades. Generally, they enjoy the content. They also exhibit creativity when completing the activities.



Excerpted from LOOK UP! IMAGES IN THE CLASSROOM by Gwendolyn J. Cooke. Copyright © 2014 Gwendolyn J. Cooke, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Preface, vii,
Acknowledgments, ix,
Introduction, xi,
Part I Curriculum Overview, 1,
1. The "I Have a Dream" Connection, 3,
2. A Motivational Strategy: Look Up!, 7,
3. Required Materials, 10,
4. National Application of This Manual, 13,
Part II Description of Look Up! Lessons, 15,
1. Giving Life to the Lessons That Follow, 17,
2. Recommendations for Lesson Plans, 20,
3. An Alternative Plan for Schools Not Implementing the Initiative Schoolwide, 54,
A. Biographical Profiles, 61,
B. The Three Branches of Government, 71,
C. Facts: 2011 Black Elected Officials, 73,
D. Choral Reading Guide, 79,
E. Selected Lessons for Life by Marian Wright Edelman, 83,
References, 85,

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