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Main Core Tie

Social Studies - 5th Grade
Standard 1 Objective 2

Time Frame

5 class periods of 45 minutes each

Group Size

Small Groups

Life Skills

Social & Civic Responsibility


Marty Austin
Karole Pickett
Melissa Voorhees


After learning about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, students will participate in the Underground railroad experiment on the National Geographic web site.

Enduring Understanding:
Global trade and cultural exchanges alter the lives of people around the world.

Essential Questions:

  • Why was slavery so important to the economics of early America?
  • What role did the cotton gin play in slavery?


  • writing paper
  • props, as needed
  • read alouds
  • computer access

Background for Teachers

Have an understanding with the Underground railroad. Read information about Harriet Tubman.

Student Prior Knowledge

An understanding of the Underground Railroad, a knowledge of Harriet Tubman. A pre-assessment paragraph of what the Underground Railroad means to them.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will have a clearer understanding of the Underground Railroad and the persons involved.

Instructional Procedures


Have the students write a paragraph about the Underground Railroad and what they know about it. This will be the pre-assessment.

The teacher will then read a short book about Harriet Tubman or share information from the web site (found in the teacher background) about Harriet Tubman.

The next step requires the students to be in pairs or small groups, depending on the number of computers available. Each group will participate in the Underground railroad experiment on the National Geographic site. There is an accompanying worksheet on the attachments page. The student will have to answer some questions and make some decisions as they go. This will take two class periods.

During the third class period, allow the groups to pick the scripts, scenarios or even to write their own presentation to preset to the class on the fifth day. Use the rest of days 3-5 for research and presentation.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

For the final project there are different scenarios to choose from; plays, performances,or an oral presentation.



There is a wonderful website where the students can actually hear the voices of people who were slaves and who have traveled the Railroad.

Assessment Plan

The students will write a paragraph similar to the pre-assessment. Students should focus more on their feelings about what they have learned and experienced, than what they know.

Created: 06/25/2009
Updated: 02/05/2018