Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Hall of Injustice, Part 2

 Guided Inquiry Research

Daniel Schwarz, Polly Base, Rhonda Slatten

Based on Hall of Injustice, Part 2 by Polly Base.

  • Grade Level Grade Level 8th, 9th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts, Social Studies
  • Course Course Composition, Oklahoma History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 4-5 class period(s)
  • Duration More 200 minutes


This lesson builds on the inquiry questions that students developed in the lesson "Hall of Injustice, Part 1." Students will use their inquiry questions based on the Tulsa Race Massacre to write an informative research paper, focusing on how remembering history impacts the present. Students will explore different articles, books, photos, and audio archives related to the Tulsa Race Massacre, and they will compare these various memories of the event. By the end of the lesson, students will have made a connection between the historical event and the present context.

Essential Question(s)

How does remembering historical events impact the present? What are you curious about regarding the Tulsa Race Massacre (1921) or its impact on modern-day Tulsa, Oklahoma?



Students respond to images and a video regarding the similarities and differences between the labels "riot" and "massacre."


Students explore artifacts related to the Tulsa Race Massacre in order to solidify their understanding of the event.


Students research an inquiry question of their choice regarding events surrounding the Tulsa Race Massacre, and then write an informative essay.


Students create research posters inspired by street art and share them with a small group and display.


Students submit the following for evaluation: Labels Impact History; Resource Exploration; Inquiry Log; "Tell Me All About It" Informative Essay with Bibliography; and Hall of Injustice Graffiti Research Poster.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Labels Impact History handouts (attached; one per student)

  • Resource Exploration handouts (attached; one per student)

  • Resource Choice Board (attached; provide students link to digital version)

  • Research question note cards (optional; from Hall of Justice, Part 1)

  • Inquiry Log handouts (attached; one per student)

  • Chart paper (one piece per student) and markers or access to a digital platform for creating research posters

  • Street Art Slides document (attached)

  • Computers

  • Headphones (optional)

  • Pencils

  • Notebook paper


Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Display slide 2, showing the essential questions, and read them aloud to begin the lesson.

Display slide 3. Pass out copies of the Labels Impact History handout (or distribute the digital version). Using the Caption This strategy and the directions from the Labels Impact History handout, invite students to examine two depictions of the events of 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Direct students to the images on the first page of their handouts. Ask students to look closely at the images, and, for each image, write a caption describing what is happening or what the image represents.

When students are finished writing, have them share their captions with an Elbow Partner.

Display slide 4. With their Elbow Partners or in groups of four, have students briefly brainstorm the similarities and differences between the labels "riot" and "massacre." Students can take notes about the discussion on their handouts. Have one representative from each group share out a summary of the group's discussion with the class.

Read the definitions of "riot" and "massacre" on slide 5, and then return to the images on slide 3. Ask students the question, "Would you categorize each image as a 'riot' or a 'massacre'?" Students should answer individually on page 2 of their handouts, writing down which label they chose and justifying their answers with the definitions and the details from the images.

Display slide 6. Show the video The Tulsa Race Massacre; Then and Now.

At the conclusion of the video, discuss the shift from the label "Tulsa Race Riot" to "Tulsa Race Massacre" as a class.

Display slide 7. Using the How I Know It strategy, ask students to return to their handouts to answer the following questions, also shown on the second page of the handout:

  • How do the speakers refer to the event—as a riot or as a massacre?

  • Based on what you know at this time, would you call the event in Tulsa a riot or a massacre?

Drawing a diagram as instructed on the handout, students should write the answer to the questions in the circle, and write where they found their information in the space outside the circle.


Display slide 8. Pass out copies of the Resource Exploration handout, and provide students with digital access to the Resource Choice Board so that they can visit the various links. Invite students to work with a partner to explore one resource from each of the four categories (Articles, Videos, Photo Collections, and Audio). You may want to supply headphones or earbuds for students to listen to the provided video and audio files or allow students to use their own. Ask students to use the 5Ws from the 5W Cube strategy to answer questions for each resource. Tell students that answers can be in the form of brief bullet points rather than complete sentences.


Display slide 9. Now, ask students to choose an inquiry-based research question related to the Tulsa Race Massacre to investigate in more detail. They can choose one of the questions that they developed during the lesson Hall of Injustice, Part 1, drawing from their previously-created Research Question Notecards, or they can write a new question. For example, they might choose to write a question related to a subject that interests them, such as math, science, or art. Give students time to make their selections and/or write new research questions.

Display slide 10 and pass out copies of the Inquiry Log handout. Ask students to complete the Inquiry Log with information from 3–5 sources as they research their questions. Then, display slide 11, and familiarize students with the A-CLAP strategy. Explain to students that they can use this strategy as they are researching to evaluate the validity of the resources that they find.

Once you have reviewed the instructions with them, give students sufficient time to complete their research.

When students have information from at least 3–5 resources recorded on the Inquiry Log, they are ready to write a thesis statement and begin their essay. Display slide 12 and show students the brief video Writing an Effective Thesis Statement.

Display slide 13. Invite students to use their inquiry questions to write a thesis statement for an informative essay regarding their chosen topic. Instruct students to follow these steps to write their thesis statements:

  1. Reread their chosen inquiry question.

  2. Decide on a topic.

  3. Construct a claim.

  4. Determine the main points of the informative essay.

  5. Write the thesis statement. The statement should be one sentence and include the topic, claim, and specific points.

After you've given students time to write their thesis statements, introduce the guidelines for writing their "Tell Me About It" informative essays, which are outlined on slide 15. Each essay should include a thesis statement, a clearly explained answer to their inquiry question, both direct and indirect quotes from the sources the student identified, and a connection to current events. Each essay should also include an introductory paragraph, 2–3 body paragraphs, a concluding paragraph, and a Works Cited page.

Provide students with time to compose their essays in class, or assign them as homework.


Engage students in a discussion about street art in preparation to create a Research Poster inspired by street art. In understanding the message behind street art, students can understand how to communicate a powerful message about what they've learned through this lesson and in their research about the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Present the attached Street Art Slides to the class. After viewing the street art, display slide 16, and use the Commit and Toss strategy to discuss the question, "What is the purpose of street art?" Follow the instructions below for the Commit and Toss activity:

  1. Give students a minute or two to write an answer to this question on a piece of paper.

  2. Instruct students to crumple up their answers and toss them across the room.

  3. Have each student pick up a piece of paper that landed nearby.

  4. One by one, have students read the answers on the papers that they picked up.

  5. Discuss the answers as a class in order to come to a consensus regarding the definition of street art.

Display slide 17 and discuss the street art used to honor Black Wall Street. Ask students to look closely and identify images that would help people remember the events before, during, and after the massacre.

Display slide 18. Invite students to create street art Research Posters. Ask them to focus on the four questions below (the first three of which are suggested by NYU Libraries) as they consider how to showcase what they have learned during their personal research:

  1. What did you find in your research that was most important, interesting, or astounding?

  2. How might you visually share your research?

  3. How might you incorporate charts, graphs, photos, or images?

  4. What do you hope others who view your art will take away from it?

Display slide 19. Show the sample poster, and walk through the components that students need to include in their own posters.

Display slide 20, and discuss the poster format and timeline. Remind students that this poster is their own creative expression of their learning. Students can choose to use traditional art supplies (butcher paper, chalk, markers, paint, colored pencils) to create their posters (consider providing large butcher paper with bricks drawn on it), or students can complete their posters using a digital tool, such as Canva.

Display slide 21. Explain the Elevator Speech strategy, and then give each student a few minutes to prepare their own Elevator Speech to share their Research Posters (handmade or Canva posters). Ask students to explain in their speeches the components of the poster, and to include a one-sentence statement as to why their poster has the most powerful message.

Organize students into groups of four. Invite students to take turns presenting their elevator speeches, and then ask groups to discuss and choose the poster they consider to be the most powerful. Ask one representative from each group to present this poster to the entire class.


Each of the following can be turned in to serve as an evaluation for this lesson:

  • Labels Impact History handout

  • Resource Exploration handout

  • Inquiry Log

  • "Tell Me All About It" informative essay with Works Cited page

  • Hall of Injustice street art Research Poster