The Underground Railroad

Grade Levels: 6 - 8

Objectives

  • Students will use vocabulary related to the Underground Railroad.
  • Students will identify key facts related to the Underground Railroad.
  • Students will evaluate their personal responses to the Underground Railroad.
  • Students will make a judgment about the morality of the Underground Railroad.

Materials

  • Discussion questions
  • Set aside time for students to gather as a group and share and discuss their activity worksheet responses.
  • Challenge the whole group to discuss the moral issues (e.g., right vs. wrong) that the Underground Railroad posed.

Vocabulary

  1. bounty hunters = people being paid to hunt for runaway slaves and return them to their masters

  2. conscience = the sense or character that gives a person the feeling to do right or good

  3. derogatory = negative

  4. fugitives = people running away from something illegally

  5. stamina = endurance

  6. terrain = a piece of land or geographical area

Discussion Questions

  1. What was the Underground Railroad?
  2. Who traveled this path and why?
  3. Why was the Underground Railroad so dangerous?
  4. Why did the runaway slaves need to make it all the way to Canada?
  5. If you had been a slave in the 1850s, would you have tried to escape on the Underground Railroad? Why or why not?
  6. If you had been a white person living along the path of the Underground Railroad, would you have allowed runaway slaves to hide on your property? Use the back of this sheet or a separate piece of paper to explain your reasoning.

Assessment

  • Use a checklist to assess students' understanding of the factual, legal, and moral implications of the Underground Railroad. Assign a point value to each item.
    1. _____ The student accurately answers the factual questions posed on the worksheet.

    2. _____ The student is able to articulate his or her feelings about the Underground Railroad.

    3. _____ The student supports his or her opinion with facts.

    4. _____ The student participates in a discussion of the moral issues posed by the Underground Railroad.

  • Find a variety of assessment techniques to use with this lesson.

Extension Activities

  • Choose from a large collection of cross-curricular activities for all grade levels.
  • Explore outstanding lessons and activities in the Black History Month theme.
  • Have students use the Internet to select slavery topics they are interested in learning more about. Direct students to work in small groups and conduct panel discussions on the practice of slavery.
  • Have students find a timeline showing the order of events in the history of slavery. After studying the timeline, students can write questions about the timeline to quiz each other.

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