Lesson Plan:  Runaway Ads


Carleena Day


Unit Objective:  Students will be able to distinguish between primary sources and

secondary sources.  Students will be able to identify at least 5 main figures of the

Underground Railroad.  Students will be able to use various media for research

and/or presentations.


Day 1:  Methodology-Begin with teacher doing a characterization; white female of

              Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Pretend to be reading an ad (primary source example

is writings of  William Still )  for a run away slave.  

Next tell of the three stages of slavery in the United States-early colonial time,

colonial/revolutionary time, and post-Revolution War time.  Read primary source

from William Still and then read primary source (ad for runaway)Harriet Tubman.

Show map of time period and the closeness of Philadelphia, Christiana, Harpers

Ferry, Washington, D.C.  Give brief introduction to Harriet’s early years. 

***Remember to point out what is used that is primary source, and what is secondary source information.


Unit Assignment:  Divide into four to six groups of 3-5 students.  Assign due 4th day a

              Presentation about a person or event involved in the Underground Railroad using

primary and secondary resources.  Require that method allows everyone to

participate in presentation.  Methods of media:  interview style, lecture,

characterization, play, illustrated presentation including artifacts, posters, and/or

power point or another method with approval from the teacher.


Suggested topics: 

Henry “Box” Brown

              (provide in article box: Landmarks of the Underground

Railroad Course Book page 50-55, drawing, and site listings)

              William Still

                            (provide in article box:  Landmarks of the Underground Railroad

                                          Course Book, portrait, and site listings)

              Frederick Douglass

                            (provide in article box:  Landmarks of the Underground Railroad

                                          Course Book, letter to Lincoln, portrait, and site listings)

              John Brown

                            (provide in article box:  Landmarks of the Underground Railroad

                                          Course Book, Stonewall Jackson on Brown Execution, Brown’s

speech prior to sentencing, portrait, and site listings.)

              William Parker

                            (provide in article box:  Landmarks of Underground Railroad

                                          Course Book, Parker’s Story & Trial papers on pages 19-42,

                                          picture of house, and site listings)


Allow group time for research.  Provide copied primary sources from information

from NEH workshop in an article file box.  Assist students in computer research.

Provide historic books and library time.


Show rubric of evaluation for knowledge that will be used for grades for the week.


Rubric***Score each evaluation with a score from 0 to 20.


Day 2 Methodology: Discuss Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  Discuss fear and fight

of slaves and of slave hunters.  Show video from Williamsburg about Runaway

Slave.  Have a brief discussion following video.

Check on students’ progress.


Day 3 Methodology:  Expand on Harriet Tubman’s life citing information from Bound

for the Promised Land  by Kate Larson.  Allow research group time.    Show Harriet Tubman video (one I have at home) where young black man is transported back by a magic librarian to Tubman’s time.  He’s a slave and escapes with her after she was hit at the store to keep him from being hit.  It is followed by ten questions for students.  Use score as evaluation on observation and listening skills.  Check for progress.


Day 4 (and 5 if needed):  Allow groups to make presentations.


Last day:  Summarize Underground Railroad.  Bring in important primary sources that

              were not used by students.  Review Christian and Harper’s Ferry events and

prepare to start unit on Civil War.

If time permits do on smart board-interactive map (make best escape route to













Alternate ideas for demonstrating new knowledge.


Living Wax Museum-students do research and prepare a time line and a one

page report on the person they portray.   Students dress and use props to

give the idea that they are the persons they researched. Example students

prepare along hallway to cafeteria so the rest of school may pass by on

their way to lunch.


              Parent Night Display Boards-students do research and prepare tri-fold boards

with biography, pictures, time line, and unusual facts.  Students stand by boards for the time period set as parents and friends come by and ask questions.


              Talk Show-students do research and prepare two page report using at least one

                            primary source.  The student dresses as and pretends to be the person they

researched.  The student is suppose to be getting off a time machine and arriving at the talk show, so they may talk all about the life of the person.  They may not speak of the death of the person.  The teacher asks the students about their person and allows students in the audience to ask questions.  Students can be videoed and tape shown to class at a later date.


              Early 1800 Newspaper-students do research and prepare a page report written as

they were a reporter and had interviewed the person researched..  The

reports are all typed in the form of a newspaper that is printed and distributed to the students.


Copy of ad for Harriet Tubman