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Day 1: Derailment of Human Rights:A Life of Slavery


Art, Computers & Internet, Language Arts, Social Studies  




Title – All Aboard! Exploring the Secrets of the Underground Railroad – An Interdisciplinary Unit

Day 1 Lesson: Derailment of Human Rights: A Life of Slavery

Note, this is one part of a larger unit which can be found here .

By – Elizabeth Hodgson and Rachel Vogelpohl
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts, Art, Computers / Internet
Grade Level – 4


Social Studies
1.04 – Evaluate ways the people of North Carolina used, modified, and adapted to the physical environment, past and present.
2.04 – Describe how different ethnic groups have influenced culture, customs and history of North Carolina.
3.02 – Identify people, symbols, events, and documents associated with North Carolina’s history.

English Language Arts
2.02 – Interact with the text before, during, and after reading, listening, and viewing by:
setting a purpose using prior knowledge and text information, making predictions, formulating questions, locating relevant information, making connections with previous experiences, information, and ideas.
2.03 – Read a variety of texts, including: fiction (legends, novels, folklore, and science fiction), nonfiction (autobiographies, informational books, diaries, and journals), poetry (concrete, haiku), drama (skits, plays).
2.07 – Determine usefulness of information and ideas consistent with purpose.
4.02 – Use oral and written language to: present information and ideas in a clear, concise manner, discuss, interview, solve problems, and make decisions.
4.03 – Make oral and written presentations using visual aids with an awareness of purpose and audience.
4.07 – Compose fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using self-selected and assigned topics and forms (e.g., personal and imaginative narratives, research reports, diaries, journals, logs, rules, instructions).

Visual Arts
1.02 – Create work which approaches a higher level of realism.

Theatre Arts
2.01 – Develop skills to identify characters and cast roles from a variety of texts that reflect upon heritage, culture and history.
2.02 – Utilize vocal expression to explore thoughts and feelings of real and non-real characters.
2.03 – Participate in dramatic activities that deal with conflict and emotions.
2.07 – Assume the role of a variety of real and non-real characters.


  • Chart paper for KWHL chart
  • The Last Safehouse by B. Greenwood
  • Computer
  • KidPix software
  • Traditional art supplies: construction paper, crepe paper, glue, markers, paint, glitter, crayons, clay, scissors, colored pencils, etc.


    KWHL Chart (Social Studies/Language Arts)
    On a very large sheet of butcher or construction paper, create a large KWHL chart. Students will brainstorm what they know about slavery and the Underground Railroad (UGR). Give students a chance to verbalize their ideas, and also allow them to write their responses on the graphic organizer. The teacher or another student should write down the ideas of students who may not be able to or may not be comfortable writing. Keep the chart hanging up in the room for the duration of the unit, and instruct the students to refer back to their original ideas/predictions as they learn more about the subject. Their focus should be on identifying information that will allow them to confirm or revise their initial ideas/predictions.

    The Last Safehouse by B. Greenwood
    Read The Last Safehouse as an introduction to the lives of slaves, the roles they played in the cities and on plantations and their desire for freedom; UGR conductors and slave catchers; and the brave escapes made by slaves and conductors.

    Follow Up Activity– Advertisements from the year 1800

    Place students into pairs or groups of three to brainstorm and discuss what freedom must have meant to North Carolina’s slaves. Each group should then create a poster, in the style of advertisements from the early 1800s that describes what freedom meant to slaves. Students are able to choose how they’d like to create their posters and how they’d like to represent their ideas–with KIDPIX drawing software, traditional art supplies (construction paper, paints, markers, crepe paper, etc.). Students who would like to represent their posters’ messages through role play may, but they must first conference with the teacher.

    After the posters are complete, each group must present its poster to the class, and the “audience” will have the chance to ask questions.

    Multiple Intelligences:

    Verbal/Linguistic: (reading and discussing story, presentation of posters and/or role play)
    Visual/Spatial: (creation of poster)
    Interpersonal: (working in groups to create posters and or role play)
    Kinesthetic: (presentation of role play — if chosen)
    Note: Activity also appeals to auditory (listening to reading, discussion, presentations), visual (creation and viewing of posters and presentations), and tactual (creation of posters) learners.


    Two separate assessments:
    1. Assessment of students’ posters, using the project rubric .
    2. Assessment of students’ presentations, using the presentation rubric .

    E-Mail Elizabeth Hodgson and Rachel Vogelpohl !

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