Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad
Classroom Resources
about the underground railroad
following the footsteps
eyewitness to history
figure it out
mapping it out
secrets: language, signs and symbols
create a quilt block
living history
underground railroad library
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Lesson Plan:
Building a Memorial to the Underground Railroad

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

STAGE 3: Plan Learning Experiences and Instruction

Internet Sites:
Maryland Public Television's Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad
Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad has been designed to help Maryland students in Grades 4 and 8 look more closely at Maryland's people, stories, and events that surrounded this important effort.

National Teacher Training Institute
All 2002 NTTI Institute lesson plans, resources, and links can be accessed at this site. Links to the national WNET/Thirteen NTTI site and lesson plans from past institutes are also available.

NTTI Electronic Learning Community
This Electronic Learning Community is the gateway to online resources, a discussion board, virtual chat and loads of links. The programming for this ELC is designed by the Center for Technology in Education, The Johns Hopkins University.


Per student:
  • Blank Sequence Chain
  • Map Directions
  • Map Elements
  • Blank Economic Resources Chart
  • Blank Geographic Characteristics Chart
  • Blank Sense Poem Template
  • Figure it Out Chart
  • Figure it Out ThinkSheets
  • Quilt Story Template
  • Directions for Designing a Memorial for Underground Railroad
  • Writing Prompt
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Optional: Computer software Kidspiration
  • Writing to Inform Prompt (LWP)
  • Writing to Inform Scoring Rubric
  • Language in Use Rule

What are the essential terms related to the learning experience?
  • Fugitive - person who has escaped custody
  • Primary source - document original to an historical time period used by historians to construct the story of the past. Sample primary sources can include photographs, paintings, objects, legal documents like wills, inventories; diaries, letters, newspaper articles

In this lesson, students will construct meaning about the Underground Railroad from their interpretations of three sections of the "Pathways to Freedom: Maryland & the Underground Railroad" site; "Following the Footsteps," "Figure it Out," and "Secrets: Language, Signs and Symbols."

Children's literature can be used to supplement these electronic resources, either before or after students use the web site. Grouping strategies will allow teachers to match student interest and reading ability with the appropriate activities, maximizing learning. This lesson can be used with any technology configuration - one computer classroom, a lab for each student, or a mini-lab setting so that groups of students can share access to the computers.

Following the Footsteps provides a multimedia (text, music and voiceover) program for students to experience what a journey on the Underground Railroad might have been like. Students are given the opportunity to decide whether they will travel on the Underground Railroad, or stay on the plantation. To use this interactive exploration, you will need to make sure that the Flash software is loaded on the computers your students will use to view the Following the Footsteps feature of the MPT: Pathways to Freedom web site in advance. We strongly recommend you visit the web site prior to your students (on the same day) to increase the speed of the downloading images. Consult your school's technology specialist about ways to increase the speed of the downloading images or installing software if necessary!

To select appropriate differentiation and accommodation strategies, teachers should pre-assess students' skills at reading and interpreting text and data by completing a "think aloud" modeling activity prior to the first activity.

Learning accommodations for special education students include different grouping strategies; modifying the writing assignment by providing a frame paragraph structure; by modifying the other activities included in the lesson.

Advanced learners can complete their choice of the Extension activities (listed at the end of the lesson). For additional resources to differentiate the lesson, view: This lesson can be completed in small groups or as a whole class.

Day 1-3: What happened to a person who traveled on the Underground Railroad?

Activity 1: Pre-Testing Students
To select appropriate differentiation and accommodation strategies, teachers should pre-assess students' skills at reading and interpreting text and data by completing a "think aloud" modeling activity prior to the first activity. For example, share the first frame in the "Following the Footsteps" section of the web site. Read the text aloud. Ask: What is happening here? Who is this story about? What do you know about this situation? (5 minutes)

Activity 2: Accessing Prior Knowledge
Complete a K-W-L or a web (using the software Kidspiration) about the Underground Railroad to assess students' prior knowledge about the Underground Railroad. Discuss student responses. (10 minutes)

Explain that students are going to be investigating a variety of different sources of information about the people that traveled on the Underground Railroad to their freedom. (1-2 minutes)

Activity 3: "Previewing or Pre-Reading"
Lead students in a previewing or pre-reading activity before they continue with "Following the Foosteps." Ask: What do you think will happen to someone if they travel on the Underground Railroad? Why do you think they call it an Underground Railroad? Have you ever seen a Railroad go underground? What does it mean to say something is "underground?" (10 minutes)

Activity 4: Completing a Sequence Chain
Ask students to use the "Following the Footsteps" section of the web site. As they explore, they should create a sequence chain to track the choices of the characters, and the obstacles they encounter. (experienced readers will take 25-30 minutes to complete the interactive; less experienced readers and special needs students may require your assistance and take considerably longer)

Activity 5: Mapping the Story
Track the events of the story by creating a birds-eye map. Instruct students to use their imagination to create a detailed map. Ask them to add the geographic characteristics that they can hear, see, and read about in the story. Remind them to use their map elements! (Do while completing the interactive - 15-20 minutes)

Activity 6: Identifying the Economic Resources in the Story
Tell students there are many economic resources that are referred to in this story. Ask them to complete the chart to make a list of the human, natural and capital resources they hear, see and read about. Can be completed individually or as a group while completing the interactive. (15 minutes)

Continue with STAGE 3 »

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

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