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


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Related pages

  • An introduction to slave narratives: Harriet Jacobs' Life of a Slave Girl: In this lesson, students will learn about the life experiences of slaves in the United States during the 1800s by reading the story of a North Carolina slave woman who eventually escaped.
  • North Carolina women and the Progressive Movement: In this lesson, students read primary source documents from Documenting the American South specifically related to North Carolina women involved in reform movements characteristic of the Progressive era. For the most part, these documents detail women's work in education-related reform and describe the creation of schools for women in the state. They also demonstrate that, as was true in the rest of the nation, the progressive, female reformers of N.C. were segregated based on race and socio-economic status.
  • Who started the Civil War? Comparing perspectives on the causes of the war: This lesson plans presents the account of Rose O'Neal Greenhow, a confederate spy during the Civil War. Students are encouraged to find confirming and refuting evidence of her perspective on what caused the Civil War by browsing the Documenting the American South Collection of digitized primary sources.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • demonstrate and understanding of the historical context of the Fugitive Slave Law.
  • discover the impact of the law.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

100 minutes

Technology resources

Computers with internet access or copies of primary sources


  1. Divide students in the class into the following roles:
    • Members of the Mediation Panel. Duties include:
      • Preparing background statements about the major issues of the case based on background reading of the Fugitive Slave Law.
      • Preparing four or five questions for each character.
      • Nominating one member to serve as the recorder of the proceedings.
    • Characters represented by one to three students each. Duties include:
      • Prepare a biography for your character.
      • Prepare a diary entry written from the perspective of your character.
      • Prepare to answer questions of the panel and the reporters.
      • Characters:
        • Ellen Craft
        • William Craft
        • Frederick Douglas
        • Henry Clay
        • William Hughes
    • Newspaper reporters. Duties include:
      • Prepare a list of eight to ten questions for one of the characters based on background reading of their stories.
      • Write a news story covering the events of the panel discussion and including your interview.
      • Note: This is a good role to assign students who were absent during the planning or early stages of the lesson, especially if your class runs only 55 minutes.
  2. All students will need to read background on the Fugitive Slave Law from their text or some other secondary source. They should also all read the primary sources attributed to the characters.
    • Singular Escape. Appeared in the Liberator newspaper in 1849 and recounted the Crafts’ escape.
    • Interesting Meeting. Describes Ellen Craft’s speech and alludes to the Fugitive Slave Law.
    • Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom. Written by Henry Craft. Excerpts are suggested since this is a lengthy document: p. 27 beginning with “My wife was torn begins the account of the Craft’s escape”; p. 87 marks the beginning of the discussion of the Fugitive Slave Law including an account of slave traders looking for the Crafts and religious leaders both supporting and opposing the law.
    • A Simple Tale of Slavery. A speech delivered by Frederick Douglas.
    • Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. Excerpts pp. 346-348.


    Assess students based on the completion of their role and the corresponding writing assignments.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • History/Social Studies

        • Grades 11-12
          • 11-12.LH.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
        • Grades 9-10
          • 9-10.LH.9 Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • United States History I

        • USH.H.1 Apply the four interconnected dimensions of historical thinking to the United States History Essential Standards in order to understand the creation and development of the United States over time. USH.H.1.1 Use Chronological thinking to: Identify the...
        • USH.H.5 Understand how tensions between freedom, equality and power have shaped the political, economic and social development of the United States. USH.H.5.1 Summarize how the philosophical, ideological and/or religious views on freedom and equality contributed...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 11–12 — United States History

  • Goal 3: Crisis, Civil War, and Reconstruction (1848-1877) - The learner will analyze the issues that led to the Civil War, the effects of the war, and the impact of Reconstruction on the nation.
    • Objective 3.02: Analyze and assess the causes of the Civil War.