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Civil War Unit: Lesson A… Harriet Tubman


Language Arts, Social Studies  


4, 5, 6  

Title – Civil War Unit-Lesson A-Harriet Tubman
By – Sarah Higgins
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts
Grade Level – 4th-6th


Civil War Unit
Lesson A

Objective: The learner will be able to describe the role that Harriet Tubman played in the Underground Railroad and give supporting evidence to explain their opinions.

-Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad
-Overhead of Harriet Tubman poem (included below as attachment A-1)

Anticipatory Set: The students will be asked to listen to a reading from Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Instructional Input:

Teacher Activities
Student Activities
-Ask the students to get into small groups of three or four for discussion. -Gather into small groups.
-Ask the students to reflect on the portion of the book that they heard and discuss why they believe Harriet Tubman was so important to the survival of the Underground Railroad and what they believe her personality to be. -Discuss in class using their discussion chips. Each student should lay one of their chips down after they have given their point of view. Students may recollect their chips after each one has talked.
-Require students to report out from their groups about what they believe Harriet Tubman was like and why she was important. -Choose one student to speak for group and answer teacher questions.
-Write the students ideas onto the board. -Copy these ideas onto a sheet of notebook paper and keep close-by for further use.
-Instruct the students about the importance of black spirituals during this time period and how songs were used to communicate emotions and ideas. Place the song lyrics about Harriet Tubman on the overhead and read them aloud to the students (or play the song). Ask the students to examine the statements that they wrote down on their notebook paper and look for supporting evidence for these statements in the song lyrics. Demonstrate this process to the students. (See attachment A-1.) -Write down statements from the song that they believe fit the character traits that they had picked for Harriet Tubman.
-Show the students how to make a character sketch from these statements by having the students help to make a sketch of another familiar figure. -Provide ideas about descriptive traits for the famous figure.

Checking for Understanding: Listen closely to students’ ideas about Harriet Tubman. If there is confusion, read more from the book and point out how you would describe Harriet Tubman from the passage that you just read.

Guided Practice: Ask the students to create a character sketch of Harriet Tubman based on what they believe to be true. Also, ask the students to write a line from the poem that they believe supports the character trait underneath each trait on their figure. They may also use quotes or ideas from the section that was read from the book. After they have added one character trait and one quote-have the students trade with each other to see if the other student can understand their work.

Independent Practice: Once the students seem to grasp the concept, they should begin to work on their character sketches.

Evaluation: Examine the students’ character sketches for character traits and supporting evidence.



Harriet Tubman

One night I dreamed I was in slavery
          ’bout 1850 was the time,
Sorrow was the only sign-
          there’s nothing about to ease my mind.
Out of the night appeared a lady
          leading a distant pilgrim band,
“First mate,” she cried, pointing a hand
          “make room aboard for this young woman.”

“Come on up, I’ve got a lifeline!
Come on up to this train of mine.”
They said her name was Harriet Tubman,
And she drove for the Underground Railroad.

Hundreds of miles we traveled onward
          gathering slaves from town to town,
Seeking all the lost and found
          and setting those free that once were bound.
Somehow my heart was growing weaker,
          I fell by the wayside’s sinking sand,
Firmly did this lady stand-
          she lifted me up and took my hand.

Singing “Come on up, I’ve got a lifeline!
Come on up to this train of mine.”
They said her name was Harriet Tubman
And she drove for the Underground Railroad.

E-Mail Sarah Higgins!

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