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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In think-pair-share, the teacher asks an open-ended question and gives students a half to one minute to think about the question on their own. Students then pair with a classmate and discuss ideas about the question. This structure gives all students the opportunity to discuss their ideas. After a few minutes the teacher solicits student comments or takes a classroom vote. Students are much more willing to respond after they have had a chance to discuss their ideas with a classmate because if the answer is wrong, the embarrassment is shared.

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Learning outcomes

The goal is to introduce students to that time in American history when slavery was legal and accepted in society and business.

Students will:

  • listen to and view appropriate materials about Harriet Tubman’s life and discuss
  • re-tell parts of Harriet Tubman’s life as they create a class chart or diagram with the teacher
  • select events from Tubman’s life that illustrate why she is considered an American hero
  • write a follow-up paper to take home and share with their parents

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 45-minute class periods


  • Appropriate picture biographies of Harriet Tubman’s life
  • TV and VCR player (or DVD player).
  • Computer and TV that interface (or a computer with a data projector).
  • White board and markers.
  • Video: Harriet Tubman from Animated Hero Classics, NEST Entertainment, Inc. Length is thirty minutes.

Technology resources

Computer and TV which interface and are internet accessible.


  • The students should have some understanding about African-American History and Cultural Heritage Month.
  • Classroom teacher should introduce American slavery and plantation life, especially in North Carolina and other agrarian states in the South.


Day 1 (45 minutes)

  1. Class discussion: what is a hero? Make a class list of attributes.
  2. Ask students what they know about Harriet Tubman. Ask who, what, when, and where questions.
  3. Show video. Make it interactive, stopping at appropriate places to explain unfamiliar vocabulary, to discuss feelings, to emphasize actions of characters, to predict next events, etc.
  4. After the video, make a class graphic organizer of the events from Tubman’s life that students recall.
  5. Send a letter home with students explaining that they are learning about Harriet Tubman in recognition of African-American History and Cultural Heritage Month and ask them to retell Harriet’s story to their parents.

Day 2 (45 Minutes)

  1. Review the previous lesson, the list of attributes that make a hero, and the graphic organizer of events of Harriet Tubman’s life.
  2. Read aloud a short biographical picture book and fill in any holes in the “events” organizer.
  3. Prepare a class chart reflecting the students’ thoughts as to why Harriet Tubman is considered an American hero.
  4. At the computer-television station (or with the data projector), show the students the Harriet Tubman timeline. Explain to the students that these timelines were done by students working with Kid Pix and other drawing software programs in a setting very much like the computer lab at school or the computer stations in the classroom.
  5. Ask the students to comment on the parts of these two lessons that they enjoyed most. Use a think-pair-share strategy.
  6. Ask the students to recall some of the facts about Harriet Tubman’s life. Again, use a think-pair-share strategy.
  7. Ask students to explain to their parents why Harriet Tubman is considered an American hero.

Follow-up activity: With the classroom teacher, choose another prominent African American (such as George Washington Carver to research and construct a pictorial timeline using Kid Pix or Microsoft Paint. These illustrations might be published on the school’s web page or printed and displayed on a class bulletin board.



Supplemental information

The teacher should be sensitive to the community from which the students come, the values, attitudes, etc.


As a media coordinator from Maryland, I brought with me to Iredell Statesville Schools a vision and a dedication for instructing students during African-American History and Cultural Heritage Month. Harriet Tubman was active in the part of the Maryland where I had lived and I had explored much of her background while living in Maryland.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.H.1 Understand that history tells a story of how people and events changed society over time. 1.H.1.1 Explain how and why neighborhoods and communities change over time. 1.H.1.2 Explain the importance of folklore and celebrations and their impact on local...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Information Skills (2000)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: The learner will EXPLORE sources and formats for reading, listening, and viewing purposes.
    • Objective 1.09: Demonstrate awareness that resources convey meaning and exist in a variety of formats (print, graphical, audio, video, multimedia, web-based).
  • Goal 3: The learner will RELATE ideas and information to life experiences.
    • Objective 3.01: Describe personal cultural heritage and environment.
    • Objective 3.04: Relate cultural similarities and differences to personal life experiences.
  • Goal 5: The learner will COMMUNICATE reading, listening, and viewing experiences.
    • Objective 5.01: Respond to reading, listening, viewing experiences orally, artistically, dramatically through various formats.

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 1

  • Goal 4: The learner will explain different celebrated holidays and special days in communities.
    • Objective 4.03: Recognize and describe the historical events associated with national holidays.