K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Related pages

  • North Carolina Cherokee Indians: The Trail of Tears: In this two week unit, students will study the Cherokee by participating in literature circles, learning about Native American story telling, writing a letter to Andrew Jackson to protest against the Creek War, and more.
  • Civil War journals: This lesson integrates creative writing with Social Studies and enhances knowledge of the effects of the Civil War on people.
  • First Americans of North Carolina and the United States: This lesson will use shared reading, center time, hands-on projects, and journal writing to help learners discover facts about first Americans, particularly those in the region that is today North Carolina, while at the same time developing their English language skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • learn about the harsh conditions the American Indians faced during relocation.
  • learn how to use persuasive writing.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 weeks


  • Variety of literature relating to Cherokee Indians and Trail of Tears
  • Map of United States
  • Overhead of persuasive writing samples
  • Paper and pencil

Technology resources

  • Overhead
  • Computer
  • Microsoft Word (with Thesaurus feature)


Tell students how some people write and talk using the same words all the time. Instead of using vivid words they use the same “dead” words.

Read Steven Kellogg’s Chicken Little. Explain how he used other words instead of “said”. Reread story. Tell students to listen for word that means “said.” Stop and record them.


  1. Discuss how the Cherokee were made to leave their home and how harsh the conditions were during the trip.
  2. Talk about the dead words the class threw away.
  3. Talk about words of persuasion. Tell the children how we use persuasion to get someone to do something.
  4. Explain how you can use persuasive writing as a tool to communicate point of view.
  5. Tell students they are to assume the role of a Cherokee Indian leader during time of Trail of Tears. Write paragraph to persuade United States Government to allow you to stay on your land.
  6. Use map to trace the the route of the Trail of Tears.
  7. Think-Pair-Share. Pose question “How would you feel if someone came in your home and told you to take your stuff and move?”
  8. Each pair will publish a draft using Microsoft Word. Use grammar check to check work and the thesaurus feature to replaced “dead” words.


The student:

  • used precise original words.
  • reduced use of “dead” words.
  • used available technology to assist in writing.

Supplemental information


I am an American Indian. I feel this period of time is important to all Americans. I am also a teacher of exceptional children. Lessons have to be adapted for my students to understand and enjoy them.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.H.1 Analyze the chronology of key historical events in North Carolina history. 4.H.1.1 Summarize the change in cultures, everyday life and status of indigenous American Indian groups in North Carolina before and after European exploration. 4.H.1.2 Explain...
      • Grade 5

        • 5.H.1 Analyze the chronology of key events in the United States. 5.H.1.1 Evaluate the relationships between European explorers (French, Spanish and English) and American Indian groups, based on accuracy of historical information (beliefs, fears and leadership)....

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections with text through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.01: Respond to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using interpretive, critical, and evaluative processes by:
      • analyzing the impact of authors' word choice and context.
      • examining the reasons for characters' actions.
      • identifying and examining characters' motives.
      • considering a situation or problem from different characters' points of view.
      • analyzing differences among genres.
      • making inferences and drawing conclusions about characters, events and themes.
    • Objective 3.03: Consider the ways language and visuals bring characters to life, enhance plot development, and produce a response.

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 4

  • Goal 2: The learner will examine the importance of the role of ethnic groups and examine the multiple roles they have played in the development of North Carolina.
    • Objective 2.01: Locate and describe American Indians in North Carolina, past and present.