Hello folks! 🙂
For the last two weeks, I’ve been revamping a unit that I use during black history month on the Underground Railroad. A few years ago, a colleague of mine told me about a series of oral retellings that included detailed accounts of abolitionists using coded messages in quilt patterns to help slaves find their way to freedom in the north.
I really got into researching it on line and started putting together activities to create an interdisciplinary unit. I taught research skills through cooperative grouping, math and social studies with the unit. My read aloud for my class was ‘ Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry’.
We discussed the realities of the lives of every day Americans in the post-Revolutionary south, and the importance of the journey towards increased tolerance and diversity in our society. There are some parts of it that might be difficult for your learners. I suggest you read the book yourself first to determine the appropriateness for your classroom.
My third graders learned all about fractions when we created a quilt. They researched a famous Black American and wrote details about their lives underneath each of the quilt squares.
This quilt is one of the activities in this amazing book by Catherine Kuhn. She has some great ideas for tying geometry, measurement and art together. I’ve done this quilt a bazillion times with my learners and it is always a hit! If you click on the photo of the book it will take you to where you can purchase it. There are tons of great activities in there for a variety of different measurement and geometry standards. Great find for intermediate teachers!
We even did a play that we wrote ourselves with the information. I created a powerpoint slide show…with the help of some of my more ‘techie’ third graders, and we put on a great show.
Now that I’m in first grade again, I want to make the unit approachable for my kiddos, so, I’ve been working on some complex text read alouds and corresponding craftivities that I think will do just the trick! 🙂 So, one of the books I’ve selected for the unit is Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine.
It’s a wonderful story…and a Caldecott Winner, too! This is the story of a man named Henry Brown who was born into slavery and found his freedom by mailing himself to the North. The story is true, so its a great way for me to introduce my students to the concept of a biography.
Throughout the unit we learned many different songs of the time, and memorized poetry by famous black poets. One of my favorite poets to study in February….really any time of the year is Langston Hughes. Every year I teach my students the poem Democracy. It’s a great little piece with such depth.
Included in this freebie is a quick three day mini-lesson plan for teaching the poem before memorizing it, and a comprehension check page that you could use for homework, classwork, or even a quiz grade! I created this for third grade and the worksheets align with the third grade interpretation of RL 2.5, but you could use the copy of the poem itself with younger learners and make up your own standards based questions for your students.
I am in a personalized learning classroom and all of my instruction with the students is standards based in a way that the kids actually know how much of the standard they have achieved throughout the course of a unit of study. This standard deconstruction sheet is based solely on the part of the standard that relates to POETRY. We laser focused in on that this week! I’ve also added a ‘cheat sheet’ so you can see how I had the kids fill in their own deconstruction sheets.
The sheet below could be used for homework, classwork, or even a comprehension quiz based on the standard!
Hope you might try out a few of these ideas with your own learners! I have such a blast teaching these skills with my learners! I hope you will too!