Each year, I teach my students about the work of Harriet Tubman and each year, I think it gets even better! Each year, I add something to it to deepen my students’ understanding. It’s been fun to work on making my lessons even more engaging and then checking their understanding. This year in particular, I think has been one of my favorites and I wanted to share some of what we’re doing with this topic.
We read several different texts that related to the Underground Railroad. I took a picture of a few of them here. My class’ favorite this year, was Moses. I love Kadir Nelson Illustrations and throughout the course of the year, as the topic permitted, I’ve read several of his books to the students. The emotion that he puts into the characters’ faces is so poignant. I trust that you’ll add a few of his books to your collections! Gorgeous stuff!
My favorite book to teach during this time is a wordless book named Unspoken by Henry Cole. I would suggest making this the last book that you do in your series. If you’ve never read the book, it is inferencing GOLD. The kids would have to recognize the symbols of the Underground Railroad and understand the work of abolitionists in order to connect with the book organically.
This was a two day lesson for me. On the first day, we reviewed our Underground Railroad vocabulary, and I went over my essential question and general learning expectations via a rubric. After I went over that, I picture walked the book with the students. I had some question stems on sentence strips to help them discuss the things they saw in the book. This helped scaffold for my learners who struggle with language and processing their thoughts in an organized way. I intentionally didn’t show them the last few pages of the book.
After we discussed the images from Day 1’s lesson, I had the students sit down and write what they thought the picture was trying to share. It was really great to see how students were using the images to share a combination of schema and new information from the images. Throughout the lesson I corrected misconceptions and encouraged students to broaden their thinking where I could.
On the second day, I went back through the book. I told the kids my observations of the story. Then I asked them to go and draw the ending of the story. I wanted them to tell me using all the information we’d learned to date plus the information from the story to tell me how the story ended. I was amazed at how much the students could tell me and how interesting their endings were! Some students had the slave escape. Others had the slave stay in the corn. One of my students shared how the slave tried to escape and how the girl in the story was sad, but gave her food for the trip. Then when the slave was chased by dogs she came back and lived in the corn! The picture had all the details and her story telling was so precious!
|Read about how my students organically embraced this unit of study independently HERE.|
One of the interesting off shoots of teaching about the Underground Railroad is that my students started to embrace the lessons even in their down time, or their personal play time. I had a student bring her mom’s hair wrap in from home. That whole day, she wanted to be called Harriet Tubman, because I told her that Harriet was often pictured with her hair wrapped. There were students that were creating quilt patterns from the stories that I told them about coded messages in quilts. I had a student create the ‘Bear Claw’ pattern. When asked, my students can even tell you what the codes mean! Each day of the study, I gave them a different quilt pattern math worksheet. They loved trying to figure out which quilt pattern it was! We’ve been working on putting together a program with poems and songs from the time period. I’m so proud of all they’ve learned and how much they’ve grown. I hope you’ll consider highlighting Harriet Tubman this month for your Black History Month Studies!
Check this resource out on TPT by clicking HERE.