ALEX Learning Activity


What Do You See? The Bombing That Rocked Birmingham

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Lesa Roberts
Organization:Whitesburg Christian Academy
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2118
What Do You See? The Bombing That Rocked Birmingham
Digital Tool/Resource:
Alabama Department of Archives and History: 16th Street Baptist Church interior, damage to pews and windows
Web Address – URL:

This activity will introduce the study of Alabama's Civil Rights movement. The students will analyze a photograph of the church interior after the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. The juxtaposition of the blown-out window and debris-littered pew will encourage students to observe, infer, and make predictions.  

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
17 ) Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue. [RI.6.7]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.6.17- Use information presented in different media or formats (e.g., video, print) to demonstrate understanding of a topic or issue.

Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 6
United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
9 ) Critique major social and cultural changes in the United States since World War II.

•  Identifying key persons and events of the modern Civil Rights Movement
Examples: persons—Martin Luther King Jr.; Rosa Parks; Fred Shuttlesworth; John Lewis (Alabama)

events—Brown versus Board of Education, Montgomery Bus Boycott, student protests, Freedom Rides, Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March, political assassinations (Alabama)

•  Describing the changing role of women in United States' society and how it affected the family unit
Examples: women in the workplace, latchkey children

•  Recognizing the impact of music genres and artists on United States' culture since World War II
Examples: genres—protest songs; Motown, rock and roll, rap, folk, and country music

artists—Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Hank Williams (Alabama)

•  Identifying the impact of media, including newspapers, AM and FM radio, television, twenty-four hour sports and news programming, talk radio, and Internet social networking, on United States' culture since World War II
Unpacked Content
Strand: Economics, History, Civics and Government
Course Title: United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Explain how the use of boycotts and demonstrations led by various ethnic groups has resulted in social change in the United States.
  • Describe the changing role of women in the workplace and the impact on the family unit.
  • Describe the cultural effect of music genres, artists and media on influencing social practices and policies following World War II.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Brown vs. Board of Education
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • Freedom Rides
  • Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March
  • Motown
  • AM/FM radio
  • protest songs
  • demonstrations
  • genre
  • political assassinations
  • latchkey children
  • Civil Rights Movement
Students know:
  • The key figures involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • The major social and cultural changes that occurred in the United States post WWII.
Students are able to:
  • Critique multiple points of view to explain the ideas and actions of individuals and ethnic groups to gain equality.
  • Cite evidence to support changes in social and cultural traditions using primary and secondary sources.
  • Evaluate the contribution of technology and mass methods of communication to influence people, places, ideas, and events.
Students understand that:
  • There were important the social and cultural changes that occurred in the U.S. after WWII.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.6.9- Define civil rights movement; identify key figures and events of the Civil Rights movement, including Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing; identify culturally influential music from the post-World War II world including, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix.

Learning Objectives:

  • The students will analyze a primary document to gain information about the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.
  • The students will discuss and support the differences in observations, inferences, and predictions.
  • The students will identify and defend their observations, inferences, and predictions.
  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

  1. If available, the teacher should display the photograph under a document camera or show the photograph using a projector. If not available, distribute a copy of the photograph to each student.
  2. Ask students to study the photograph for two minutes without any discussion, reminding them that they should be able to list what they OBSERVE. Remind them that an OBSERVATION is strictly what is seen (broken windows, stained-glass, benches or pews, daylight, etc.).
  3. The teacher should create a Three-Column Chart on chart paper. Label one column Observations, the middle column Inferences, and the third column Predictions.
  4. After two minutes, allow students to identify what they observe in the photograph. The teacher should list the items to the first column of a chart. 
  5. Ask students to use the observations to make INFERENCES about the photograph. Remind the students that an inference is a conclusion based on facts (what is seen). Allow the students to discuss inferences with a partner for about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Ask students to describe any inferences they discussed. Remind them to support their inferences with their observations. (A church was vandalized because there were broken stained-glass windows and pews with trash on them.)
  7. Add the inferences to the middle column of the chart.
  8. Ask the students to make predictions based on their observations and inferences. Ask them to predict WHEN this may have happened, WHAT may have caused the damage, WHERE it might have occurred, and WHY the scene was photographed.
  9. Add predictions to the chart. Remind students to support their predictions.
  10. As a review, ask volunteers to explain the difference between an observation and an inference. 
  11. Finally, the teacher may give the students the title and brief explanation of the photograph. Discuss how close the predictions were to the actual event.
  12. This lesson may be used as a springboard to learn about Alabama's unrest during the Civil Rights era or as an introduction to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Refer to the chart after a more thorough study of the Birmingham bombing.
Assessment Strategies:

  • The students will be able to identify a major even in the Civil Rights Movement by analyzing a primary document.
  • The teacher should monitor discussions.
  • The students should support inferences and predictions about what is SEEN in the photograph.
  • The students should be able to differentiate among observations, inferences, and predictions.

Advanced Preparation:

  • This lesson should serve as an introduction to Alabama's Civil Rights era.
Variation Tips (optional):

  • The teacher may give an explanatory text to the class after this introduction.
  • Additional 16th Street bombing photographs may be given to small groups. Each group may create charts and then compare their ideas. Additional PHOTOGRAPHS provided by
Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
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