Thursday, April 14, 2011

Topic: History of New York: The Underground Railroad

This lesson was so much fun to design and teach!
Fourth Grade: History of New York: The Underground Railroad
I began the lesson by surprising the students by dressing in an "UGRR “Conductor” Costume" holding an UGRR quilt. The students became immediatley engaged asking many questions including, "Who are you supposed to be and why are you holding a quilt?" This began my introduction to how New York State played an important role during the transport of runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. I taught the lesson in character of the mysterious UGRR conductor until the end of the lesson when students eagerly shouted out my identity as being Harriet Tubman.
Students really enjoyed the Power Point Presentation I created and presented which included famous New York "conductors" on the UGRR and actual photographs of New York "safe houses". (Many of which still stand today on Long Island, Brooklyn and Rochester, New York). Students interests were peaked further when discovering the way many slaves relayed hidden messages; including hidden codes on quilt blocks to help runaway slaves find the route to freedom.
 Then the students were asked to get up from their seats and move to the rug. Using a chart I guided students as they filled out a graphic organizer to review the information and vocabulary from the Power Point Presentation. To conclude the lesson students students returned to their seats to design their own quilt code on a quilt block by iillustrating one of the 12 vocabulary words which included the written definition on the inside of the quilt block.
The students' quilt blocks were combined to create a New York UGRR Quilt which served as a Vocabulary Word Wall. This Word Wall Quilt became an interactive bulletin board; students during free time were eager to use the "quilt" to quiz themselves on each new vocabulary word from the unit. I was quite impressed with their enthusiasm and creative art work! ( Photos of lesson and students work at the end of post).

* I also provided students with UGRR picture books to explore during independent reading:

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom --Weatherford/Nelson

Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky -- F. Ringgold

Henry's Freedom Box --Levine/ Nelson

Under the Quilt of Night -- D. Hopkinson

Sweet Claa and the Freedom Quilt -- D. Hopkinson

The Patchwork Path -- B. Stroud

The Listeners -- G. Whelan

Eliza's Freedom Road -- J. Nolen

Brother & Me: A Historical Novel -- K. Velsor

Lesson Plan Overview:

ELA 1: Language for Information and Understanding
Social Studies 1: History of United States and New York
Arts 1: Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts


  • Students will define 12 vocabulary words from the Underground Railroad using a vocabulary quilt chart.
  • Students will illustrate an understanding of the definition of vocabulary words on a quilt block.
  • Students will create a word wall quilt by combining each of the illustrated quilt blocks to design an Underground Railroad Quilt bulletin board.
  • Linguistic: Oral PowerPoint Presentation on the UGRR
  • Logical: The definitions will be written in the correct boxes of the vocabulary worksheet chart.
  • Content: Define UGRR vocabulary
  • Strategy: Visuals; PowerPoint and Vocabulary Charts.

Photos From Super Student Teachers NY UGRR Lesson....

Costume and Quilt!

Power Point Presentation

Students Engaged In Lesson

Vocabulary Quilt Chart

Student Illustrating Vocabulary Quilt Block

Complete Vocabulary Word Wall

Cover Of Interactive Quilt Block

Inside Definition of Quilt Block

New York UGRR Vocab Word Wall In Use!!!! See Below...

 Students quizzing themselves on UGRR vocabulary.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! Can you send me your PP and what vocal words you used? I teach first grade so I'm sure I will have to change so e things but this is a great starting point.