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Lesson Plan

Escaping Slavery: Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt

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Escaping Slavery: Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 45- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Sue Ann Miller

North Wales, Pennsylvania


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



When visiting the recommended website in this lesson, students learn about the Underground Railroad and "walk in the shoes" of an escaping slave. Using the picture book Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, students create a problems/solutions/events chart to help them understand the relationships between Clara's problems and how she solves them. Similar to Clara's map that shows the path north to freedom, students create their own map, designing a key, a compass, and landmarks surrounding their home and school.

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Problems/solutions/events chart: Students will use this helpful handout to record the problems, solutions, and events of the story.

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Fisher, A.L. (2001). Implementing Graphic Organizer Notebooks: The art and science of teaching content. The Reading Teacher, 55, 116120.

  • Research studies indicate that graphic organizers are effective in improving students' reading, writing, and study strategies.

  • Graphic organizers are better than outlines because "their visual format shows relationships between and among concepts."

  • A Graphic Organizer Notebook is a collection of blank graphic organizers that are stored in a student's notebook and used during a particular unit of study. The format of each graphic organizer is tailored to the text materials being studied. Examples of text patterns include listings (e.g., main ideas), sequencing, compare/contrast, cause/effect, and problem/solution.


Perini, R.L. (2002). The pearl in the shell: Author's notes in multicultural children's literature. The Reading Teacher, 55, 428-431.

  • An increasing number of multicultural children's books include an author's note, foreword, or afterword. These sections can aid readers' text comprehension by providing information about the story's setting, time period, and critical events.

  • Multicultural literature supports expanding the curriculum to include literature by and about members of diverse cultural groups to "combat intolerance and foster a sense of inclusion...."


Miller, H.M. (2000). Teaching and learning about cultural diversity: All of us together have a story to tell. The Reading Teacher, 53, 666-667.

  • Establish procedures when selecting multicultural materials to use in the classroom. The NCTE website offers resources and support on censorship.

  • When integrating multicultural literature, make sure to use a variety of selections written by authors from inside and outside the culture.

  • "But no one owns the stories...all of us together have a story to tell."

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