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Lesson Plan: The Underground Railroad
Regina Newlin

1. Motivation and Engagement
     Have Follow the Drinking Gourd playing as students enter the room. As students enter, pass out entrance slips and ask students to answer in one sentence, "What is the Underground Railroad?" Give students a minute to write then ask students to share what they have written. Select a few of the best definitions to write on the overhead for students to copy.

2. Setting the Purpose of the Lesson
     Pass out song lyrics. Tell students that today we will continue our exploration of the Underground Railroad and that we are going to listen to a song that was sung by the slaves during the time of the Underground Railroad. Say, "While you are listening, do two things. Keep in mind what you already know about the Underground Railroad from our brainstorming session yesterday. Using what you know, try to figure out what the song is about."

3. Reading
     Students read the song lyrics while listening to the words.

4. Rereading and Focusing on Understanding
     Instruct students to go back over the story and underline any words or phrases that they do not understand. Then, have students in small groups (2-4 people) to try to figure out what the story isabout and what all the vocabulary means. "Write 2-3 sentences about what you predict the song is about."

5. Listening to Verify Student's Predictions
     Have students turn over the papers on which they wrote their predictions and instruct the students to listen to the story, The Drinking Gourd (Winter, 1988) to verify or modify their predictions.

6. Validating Interpretations, Reflecting and Reinforcing Comprehension
     Give students one-two minutes in their groups to discuss how accurate their predictions. Share with the entire class. Discuss and review all underlined vocabulary to verify understanding.

7. Extending and Enriching the Lesson

     Have each group of students illustrate the song, each student illustrating a verse. Tell students to be sure that their illustration will show an escaping slave the way to freedom.

Additional Extensions:
     1. Tell students that Peg Leg Joe's song gives the escape route from Mississippi or Alabama and have students locate the rivers that were followed and draw a map showing the escape route.
     2. Have students investigate Underground Railroad stops in the Detroit area such as Second Baptist Church at 441 Monroe Street, just east of Gratiot and Woodward Ave. intersection. Plan a field trip.
     3. Write a written plan to conduct research steps to find out more about the Underground Railroad.
     4. Explore how quilt patterns were used to guide slaves on the Underground Railroad.
     5. Explore the question, "Would you have helped?" from different points of view by researching and listing the pros and cons of assisting a runaway slave. How would the Fugitive Slave Act influenced your decision?
     6. Learn how to tell directions by the stars and during the day without a compass.
     7. Travel the journey of an escaped slave at National Geographic's presentation, The Underground Railroad.
     8. Research heroes of the Underground Railroad such as Harriet Tubman, Thomas Garrett, William Still, Frederick Douglass, and Susan B. Anthony.

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