Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

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This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Underground Railroad, and supports the standard of analyzing attempts to abolish slavery. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.

Step 1: ACTIVATE PRIOR KNOWLEDGE

Prompt students to think of a time they stood up for what they believed in. Ask:

  • Why was it important for you to stand up for that? 
  • What challenges did you face? 

Step 2: BUILD BACKGROUND

  • Read the description on the Underground Railroad topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Have students read one of the following Related Reading articles: “Language,” “Did You Know?” or “Laws and Customs.” Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: ENGAGE

Students express what they learned about the Underground Railroad while practicing essential literacy skills with one or more of the following activities. Differentiate by assigning ones that meet individual student needs.

    • Make-a-Movie: Create a travelog documenting a journey through the Underground Railroad. Describe conductors, challenges, and your plan for when you arrive at your final stop. (Essential Literacy Skill: Determine central ideas)
    • Make-a-Map: Make a concept map identifying different abolitionists, and describe their impact on the abolitionist movement. (Essential  Literacy Skill: Summarize key details)
    • Creative Coding: Code a museum exhibit with artifacts representing key components and effects of the Underground Railroad. (Essential Literacy Skill: Make logical inferences from explicit details)
    • Primary Source Activity: Read the account of Levi Coffin, a white abolitionist who assisted enslaved people on their journeys to freedom. Cite evidence to answer the accompanying questions.  (Essential Literacy Skill: Draw evidence from texts to support analysis)

Step 4: APPLY & ASSESS 

Apply: Students take the Underground Railroad Challenge, applying essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.

Assess: Wrap up the lesson with the Underground Railroad Quiz

Step 5: EXTEND LEARNING

Sortify: World Changing Women: Players sort influential women by attributes, such as musicians, writers, Suffrage Movement, and more in this categorizing game.

Related BrainPOP Topics: Deepen understanding of the history of slavery in America with these topics: Frederick DouglassCivil War Causes, and Civil War.

Additional Support Resources:

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

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