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Lesson Plan

Critical Perspectives: Reading and Writing About Slavery

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Kelly Finnegan

Seffner, Florida

Emily Manning

Emily Manning

Denton, Texas


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives

Mobile Apps






  • Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson (Knopf, 1993)

  • The Underground Railroad by Raymond Bial (Houghton Mifflin, 1999)

  • Journals

  • Sticky notes

  • Pencils

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Flip Book

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Flip Book

The Flip Book is designed to allow users to type and illustrate tabbed flip books up to ten pages long. Students and teachers can use the flip book for taking notes while reading, making picture books, collecting facts, or creating question and answer booklets.


Letter Generator

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Letter Generator

The Letter Generator is a useful tool for students to learn the parts of a business or friendly letter and then compose and print letters for both styles of correspondence.


Printing Press

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Printing Press

The interactive Printing Press is designed to assist students in creating newspapers, brochures, and flyers.


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RWT Flip Book

Grades   3 – 12  |  Mobile App  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

RWT Flip Book

The Flip Book app is designed to allow users to type and illustrate tabbed flip books.


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1. Reserve at least one session in your school's computer lab, and bookmark the online Flip Book, Letter Generator, and ReadWriteThink Printing Press. Ensure that all three programs are operating and printing properly. (If you experience difficulty, make sure that computers have the most recent version of the Flash plug-in, which can be downloaded for free from the Technical Help page.)

2. Students will use the Internet for certain portions of this lesson. Prior to beginning, review Internet safety rules with students per your school's policy. Notify parents of Internet use if necessary.

3. Preview the fiction and nonfiction books students read in the lesson.

  • The fiction book Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson tells the story of a young slave girl named Clara. While working as a seamstress in the master's house, she overhears workers describing the lay of the land. Consequently, Clara gets the idea of using scraps from her sewing to create a quilt that works as an escape map for slaves.

  • The nonfiction book The Underground Railroad by Raymond Bial describes how the Underground Railroad worked, why it was necessary, and the challenges that slaves faced on their journey to freedom. The book includes colored photographs of some of the places that slaves stopped while on the Underground Railroad.

These two books complement each other and help to support students' comprehension. Students begin with the fiction text, which introduces the topic of slavery and the Underground Railroad in the nonthreatening form of a story. Students further expand their knowledge of the Underground Railroad by reading a nonfiction text. In this way students encounter vocabulary associated with the Underground Railroad in two different formats and begin to understand the distinction between fiction and nonfiction.

4. Research the Underground Railroad so that you will be able to answer questions students may have. Some websites that provide information include:

Depending on the computer skills and reading abilities of your students, portions of these sites may be appropriate for sharing with students.

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