Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad
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Lesson Plan:
Building a Memorial to the Underground Railroad

Quick links: Stage 1 | Stage 2 | Stage 3 | Stage 4

STAGE 1: Identify Desired Results


The Underground Railroad was a secret network organized by people who helped an estimated 60,000 men, women, and children escape from slavery to freedom in the United States during the 19th century. The Underground Railroad provided hiding places, food, and often transportation for the fugitives. People also provided directions for the journey, telling fugitives the safest way to get further north on the dangerous journey to freedom. The Underground Railroad was run by a well-organized network of people, who worked together in secret, to help slaves escape. The work of the Underground Railroad resulted in freedom for many men, women, and children. It also helped undermine the institution of slavery, which was finally ended in the United States during the Civil War.

Deciding to try to escape slavery was very complicated. Living as a slave was extremely hard. But escaping meant leaving family behind. It also might lead to eventual capture, punishment, and sometimes, even death.

In this lesson plan, students will use a variety of sources to learn about how people helped other people to freedom on the Underground Railroad. At the completion of this lesson, students will design and write to inform about a memorial to honor the courage of people that traveled on, "built," and operated the Underground Railroad.

Grade 4 students will be successful with this lesson if they are able to read, interpret and analyze primary source documents and write to inform. Appropriate accommodations for this lesson include annotating the primary sources, assigning the primary sources in a cooperative learning Jigsaw structure, assigning fewer sources, or modifying the culminating writing assignment. Teachers' prerequisite knowledge and skills should general background knowledge about the Underground Railroad. Students can work individually or in groups to complete the activities in the lesson. If students work in groups, teachers should consider reading ability levels and necessary modifications when placing students in groups. This lesson requires both on and off-line activities.

This is an integrated Social Studies, Technology, Reading and Writing lesson.

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