Underground Railroad Curriculum in support of HEC TV s You Are Here

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1 Underground Railroad Curriculum in support of HEC TV s You Are Here Please prepare yourself by watching the entire program before showing it to your students. Overview: Grade Level: 4 to 12 Time Allotment: Activities may be used as a complete unit or select and utilize individual lessons. Learning Objectives: Students will be able to explain the significance of the Fugitive Slave Law. Students will be able to identify and explain the need for secret signs along the Underground Railroad. Show Me Performance Standards: Goal 1 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 Goal 2-1, 2, 4, 7 Goal 3-1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Goal 4-1, 5, 6 Social Studies Knowledge Standards - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Communication Knowledge Standards - 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Mathematics Knowledge Standards 1, 2, 4 Introductory Activity: Create a learning focus by having your students discuss what and how they know about the slavery and the Underground Railroad. Show the HEC TV program, You Are Here. Lesson Taught: The Underground Railroad was neither underground nor a railroad. Instead it was a system of moving runaway slaves northward, to safety and freedom. The term Underground Railroad came about due to the development of steam trains in the early 1830s. Railroad terms were used to describe different aspects of the Underground Railroad. Stations or depots were stops along the way and were run by a stationmaster. Conductors moved the runaways from one station to another. The runaways themselves were referred to as cargo or passengers.

2 It has been estimated that over 100,000 slaves were moved north between 1810 and Quakers were often sympathetic to the enslaved and they acted as the principle operators on the Underground Railroad. As early as 1786, George Washington is said to have complained that a society of Quakers helped one of his male slaves run away. It is important to remember that many of our Founding Fathers were slave owners. The Underground Railroad became part of organized abolitionist activity in the 19th century, and reached its peak between Activities of the Underground Railroad were, of necessity, secret. It was dangerous for both the fleeing slaves and the people who were aiding them. The 1850 Fugitive Slave Law passed by Congress said that people suspected of being a runaway slave could be arrested without warrant. They were then turned over to a claimant based on nothing more than a sworn testimony of ownership. A suspected black slave could not ask for a jury trial nor testify on his or her behalf. Any person aiding a runaway slave by providing shelter, food or any other form of assistance was liable for imprisonment up to six months and a $1,000 fine. Those officers capturing a fugitive slave were entitled to a fee and this encouraged some officers to kidnap free Negroes and sell them to slaveowners. The Underground Railroad ran through fourteen states and into Canada. People involved in the Railroad developed a system of signs to identify one another and to help move pass the runaways covertly along the line. Runaway slaves usually hid during the day and travelled at night. Some of the methods said to have been used to guide runaways along the way include a brightly lit candle in a window, lanterns positioned in the front yard or quilts hung over fence or clothesline. Sometimes fugitives fled on their own, using the North Star as a guide. The dangers were many, the journey long and the risks high. Lesson Plans: Title: Underground Railroad Prep for Teachers: Study and select activities for your students Prepare to tape the documentary so that the students may recheck information Copy necessary materials from this curriculum. If necessary, print website information cited for research Learning Activity: Language Arts Activity Set One: Fugitive Slave Act Materials Needed: You Are Here, copies of the Fugitive Slave Act, Internet accessible computer, encyclopedias a. Have your students read and research the Fugitive Slave Act. b. Have your students read Slave Narratives. c. Have your students research famous conductors on the Underground Railroad. d. Lead your students in discussions of the questions listed below.

3 e. Have your students write an essay from either the slave or slave owner s point of view. These could take the form of their own Slave Narrative, or a letter to the editor from a slave owner. Remind them that many slaves were illiterate and would have had to narrate their stories to someone who could write. Discussion Questions: These are more appropriate for older students 1. Ask your students their feelings about immoral laws. 2. Have them discuss whether it is right to disobey an immoral law, and who gets to decide on a law s morality. 3. Would they disobey a law they felt was immoral? 4. Would they have aided a fugitive seeking freedom? 5. Can they relate these feelings to any present day laws that they feel are immoral? Learning Activity: Language Arts Materials Needed: You Are Here, Internet accessible computer, encyclopedias Activity Set Two: Underground Railroad Signs a. Have your students develop a list of different jobs or situations where signs or signals are necessary; i.e. ball teams or airport runways. b. Have your students think of as many ways possible to give an instruction without using words. c. Have your students research the many secret signs used on the Underground Railroad. d. Divide the class into groups and have them use these signs to develop a system for moving the other groups to different parts of the school. Try the systems to see which group s system was most effective. Learning Activities: Math and Language Arts Materials Needed: You Are Here, Internet accessible computer, encyclopedias, tangrams and other manipulatives, tagboard or cloth Activity Set Three: Quilt Math a. Have your students research quilt patters from that era, looking for patterns that may have been used by participants in the Underground Railroad. Remind your students that the use of quilt patterns on the Railroad has been questioned by experts in that field. b. Use tangrams or other manipulatives to let your students develop their own patterns. If you do not have enough tangrams, your students can make their own by following the pattern below. c. Discuss how math would be used in making a quilt; measuring the blocks, estimating the supplies needed, calculating the angles needed to make the blocks. d. Create a classroom quilt with tagboard or cloth using patterns said to have been used on the Railroad e. After the quilt is completed, have your students write a story about the slaves who might have been guided by that quilt. Tangram Pattern

4 Tom Scavo s Math Lessons, A complete set of tangrams consists of seven pieces: a small square two small congruent triangles two large congruent triangles a medium-size triangle a parallelogram You can make your own set of tangrams from a single piece of paper. Just follow these simple steps: 1. Fold a rectangular piece of paper so that a square is formed. Cut off the extra flap. 2. Cut the square into two triangles.

5 3. Take one triangle and fold it in half. Cut the triangle along the fold into two smaller triangles. 4. Take the other triangle and crease it in the middle. Fold the corner of the triangle opposite the crease and cut. 5. Fold the trapezoid in half and fold again. Cut along both folds.

6 6. Fold the remaining small trapezoid and cut it in two. Learning Activities: Mapping Skills Activity Set Four: Mapping the Underground Railroad Materials Needed: You Are Here, United States maps, both road and topographical, as well as historical and current, Internet accessible computer, encyclopedias a. Have your students research and map the locations of Underground Railroad stops throughout the country. b. Task your students to identify the obstacles runaway slaves would have had to overcome like rivers or mountains. c. Ask if towns would be viewed as obstacles or possible safe havens. d. Have your students estimate how long it might have taken a fugitive to walk from one station to another. e. One mile equals 5280 feet. Measure your hallway, have your students walk down the hall and measure their steps, then do the math to determine how many steps each child will take in a mile. They can then also figure the distance between stations and the entire journey to determine the number of steps a runaway slave may have taken. Useful Links to Websites HEC-TV, CableTEC, History and Heritage: Resources for Social Studies Teachers and Researchers, State Historic Preservation Office, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Documenting the American South, From the Darkness Cometh the Light, Before Dred Scott: Freedom Suits in Antebellum Missouri, History and Heritage: Resources for Social Studies Teachers and Researchers, State Historic Preservation Office, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri s Early Slave Laws: A History in Documents, The National Black Tourism Network,

7 Underground Railroad Quilt Code: Betsey Ross Redux, Underground Railroad Quilt Code, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, History and Geography of the Underground Railroad, U.S. History, Slavery in America, Resource Bank, Underground Railroad, Ona Judge Stains, Escape from Washington, The Papers of George Washington, Advertisement for Runaway Slaves, Slavery in America, Teacher Resources, National Geographic, Finding Your Way, the Underground Railroad,

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