Curricular Unit Information

Unit Title: Where should your monument go?
Course: Visual Arts
Grade Level: Elementary
Unit Length: 6 lessons
Length of Class Period: 45 minutes sessons

Personal Stake:

Taking nothing away from the accomplishment from Dr. King or what the man stood for. As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha like King I spent timeless hours and energy listening to the conversations about the assemblage of the King Memorial. I was there when the land was dedicated in 2000, I was there again in 2011 when it was opened to the public.

But I ask the question? Dr. King was not the only pioneer of the Civil Rights movement in fact he was one of many that could have taken their seat in stone on 1964 Independence Avenue. Students looking to place another civil right icon on The National Mall could use the Eyes on the Prize documentary series which is a documentary series from 1987 that conveys original interviews, film footage and photographs about the African-American Civil Rights Movement. There they would hear first-hand on how some of the other leaders of the movement, informally named the Big Six in their own right were fighting side by side with Dr. King for justice and equalities. They were A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, James Farmer and John Lewis.  Although they came from different political horizons, these leaders were intent on the peacefulness of the march, which even had its own marshal to ensure that the event would be peaceful and respectful of the law.

But the civil rights movement was not just reserved for men there were children also involved, and could and should be included in the discussion of who should get a coveted space on the National Mall, those children to include the Greensboro Four of Greensboro North Carolina, Ruby Bridges who was the first black student to attend an all-white elementary school.

Unit Topic:

King’s memorial was placed on The National Mall to show the world that there has and there is a changing of the guard from he reports 105 lynching incidents that took place in 1901 the same time that the McMillan Plan was put in place to honor American heroes to allow a man that constantly advocated for peace and lawful demonstrations. So I challenge you to seek out someone to stand side by side Dr. King, our Presidents and our decorated war heroes on our National Mall to bring forth change and awareness to Our America.

DCPS Content and Skills Standards:


3.1 Students use cardinal directions, map scales, legends, and titles to locate places on contemporary maps of Washington, DC, and the local community.

  • 3. Identify and locate major monuments and historical sites in and around Washington, DC (e.g., the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, Smithsonian museums, Library of Congress, White House, Capitol, Washington Monument, National Archives, Arlington National Cemetery, African American Civil War Museum, Anacostia Museum, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, Frederick Douglass House, Mary McCleod Bethune House, Wilson Building, and Mount Vernon).
  • 5. Describe the ways in which people have used and modified resources in the local region (e.g. building roads, bridges, and cities, and raising crops).

3.4 Emphasizing the most significant differences, students describe Washington, DC, at the end of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

  • 5. Identify and research outstanding statements of moral and civic principles made in Washington, DC, and the leaders who delivered them, that contributed to the struggle to extend equal rights to all Americans (e.g., Lincoln and his second inaugural address, Frederick Douglass and his speech against lynching at the Metropolitan AME Church, Martin Luther King Jr. and his speeches at the Lincoln Memorial in 1957 and 1963, and Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales at the Poor People’s March).

5.14. Broad Concept: Students describe the key events and accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement in the United States.

  • 3. Identify key leaders in the struggle to extend equal rights to all Americans through the decades (e.g., Mary McLeod Bethune, Ella Jo Baker, César Chávez, Frederick Douglass, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, Charles Houston, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Carlos Montes, Baker Motley, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Eleanor Roosevelt, Reies López Tijerina).
  • 4. List and describe the steps toward desegregation (e.g., A. Philip Randolph’s proposed 1941 March on Washington, Jackie Robinson and baseball, Truman and the Armed Forces, Adam Clayton Powell and Congress, and the integration of public schools).


  • 3.W-E.4 Write a friendly letter complete with date, salutation, body, closing and signature.
  • 3.M.2 Identify formal and informal language used in advertising read, heard or seen.
  • 3.IT-DP.6 Locate specific information in graphic representations (e.g. charts, maps, diagrams, illustrations, tables, timelines) of text.


  • Students select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of their choices
  • Students use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks·        
  • Students analyze contemporary and historic meanings in specific artworks through cultural and aesthetic inquiry

Common Core Standards (connections):
Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective techniques descriptive details and clear event sequences.

Draw evidence from literary or informational text to support analysis, reflection and research.

Methods of Inquiry:

Primary Source

Students will use primary sources as their main source for historical references. They will use these documents to frame their ideas of past events to guide them through the present.

Some of the primary sources that will be made available for review, to include but not limited to: McMillian Plan of 1901, Eyes on the Prize documentary series, photographs, newspaper articles and oral reflections.

The students will have a better understanding of key figures during the Civil Rights era up and above those of Dr. King. Enough so that they will be challenged to select an individual(s) that could be an addition to the National Mall and be held in the same regard as Dr. King.

Essential Questions:

  • If you could add to The National Mall landscape: Where would your monument go?
  • How do we know what happened in American during the Civil Rights era?
  • Does anyone else deserve to be side by side Dr. King considering the documented accomplishments he has made?
  • How do you freeze time to capture the essence of a man?

Assessment of Student Learning:

Students will use various assessment tools to respond to, analyze, and make judgments about works (Aesthetics, Valuing & Perspectives of Art)

Make judgments about works of art and design using a context and critique process involving elements of background history.

• Description (describe)
• Technical qualities (explain & analyze)
• Composition (analysis)
• Meaning, theme, or message (interpret)
• Perspective on interpretation of subject content
• Expressive qualities (interpret)
• Relationship to period or society of origin (investigate/interpret)
• Significance (judgment)

Diagnostic Assessment:
After open class discussion on the key figures of the Civil Rights Movement students will select their icon of choice as well as a location for their icon to be memorialized on the National Mall.

Formative Assessment:
After each component of the unit the students will reflect back on the primary Essential Questiosn and decide if they have adequately answered the essential question either in part or in whole.

Summative Assessment:
Lesson 7 consist of a culmination project of actually constructing a prototype of the monument of the National Mall and having a corresponding aerial map indicating its location in space.

[Summary of differentiation opportunities and possibilities in the curricular unit]

Community and Cultural Resources:

  • Historical Society of Washington
  • Sumner Museum
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Daily Instruction:

  1. Concept of the Monument
  2. Open Contest
  3. Fundraising Poster
  4. McMillian Plan of 1901
  5. Initial Renderings
  6. Building the Monument

NAEA National Standards for Visual Arts

Download this file