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

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This page provides a listing of instructional plans that were created to support the use of Carolina Digital Library and Archives projects and resources in K-12 classrooms.

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Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway by Katy Vance, Jennifer Polidoro, and Melissa Harden
Grades 4-8
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These lessons offer teachers and students the opportunity to delve into the rich primary sources and historical overlooks from the Driving Through Time project from the University of North Carolina Library and explore the history of the Blue Ridge Parkway and its impact on communities.
Commemorative Landscapes by Kate Allman and Cassadi Walden
Grades 3-12
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These lessons promote student understanding and writing of North Carolina’s history through commemorative sites, landscapes, and markers. They feature the University of North Carolina Library’s Commemorative Landscapes project.
North Carolina Maps by Jennifer Job
Grades 2-12
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This guide for elementary, middle, and high school teachers provides lessons for teaching North Carolina history using digitized versions of historic maps.
The Mini Page by Summer Pennell
Grades 2-12
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This page contains lesson plans and unit plans incorporating content from The Mini Page Archive. These lessons cover a wide range of subject areas.
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina by Lara Willox
Grade 4
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These lessons are designed to teach state history using primary source documents from the Colonial and State Records of North Carolina collection from Documenting the American South.

Stories of the American South

Race in Charlotte Schools
Grades 8-12
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The lesson on this page are designed to help educators teach about school desegregation in the South. In these activities, students immerse themselves in a time period when public schools were first becoming integrated by listening to oral histories of people who experienced this change first-hand.
Change in the Mountains
Grades 4-12
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The resources on this page are designed to help educators teach about changes that have occurred in the mountain region of North Carolina over the last century. The lessons will provide an opportunity for students to learn about the effects technological innovation had on community development in mountain communities.
Southern Women Trailblazers
Grades 9-12
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The resources on this page are designed to help educators teach about the changing role of women in American society, particularly in the south. By engaging in these activities, students will not only learn about women considered to be trailblazers in their time, but they will also think critically about traditional gender roles, women’s roles in politics, academics, and professions, and the contributions of women to society.
Hurricane Floyd
Grades 4-12
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The lesson on this page are designed to help educators teach about Hurricane Floyd and its aftermath. In these activities, students learn more about flooding that occurred as a result fo the hurricane and what it feels like to be a survivor of such an event.
Child Labor in the Cotton Mills
Grades 8-12
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The resources on this page are designed to help educators teach about what life was like for children working in the cotton mills of North Carolina in the early 20th century. Through these lessons, students will learn about child labor by listening to the oral histories of people who worked in these cotton mills as children.
Slavery in North Carolina
Grades 4-12
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The resources on this page are designed to provide an opportunity for students to explore the history of slavery in North Carolina by reading slave narratives. Through these lessons, students will analyze the cultural background and the daily life of the authors of these narratives.

Individual lesson plans

Life on a North Carolina Military Base in Wartime by Laina Stapleton
Grade 8 English Language Arts and Social Studies
This lesson plan uses primary sources to help students explore what life was like at the height of World War II on an operational military base in Greensboro, North Carolina. Students read articles from the base newspaper, make inferences about life on the base, and write about an experience they had as comparison. Primary sources are available directly from this collection, made available through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, and the contributions of the Greensboro Historical Museum.
A Picture is Worth… by Laina Stapleton
Grades 9-10 English Language Arts
In this lesson, students use historic North Carolina photographs as the basis for a creative short story. After studying the elements of plot, students choose any of the photographs from the list provided. Students then expand on the scene depicted in the photograph to craft a creative short story, like telling the rest of the story about the photograph, the story leading up to and surrounding that moment caught in time. The specific scene in the photograph should be used as a major plot point in their short story. Photographs are made available through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.
Brown versus Board of Education: Rhetoric and Realities by Kristin Post.
Grades 9-12 Social Studies
In this lesson, students will listen to three oral histories that shed light on political and personal reactions toward the 1954 Supreme Court ruling Brown versus Board of Education. Though the ruling itself is not mentioned, words like “integration” and “forced busing” refer to the social outcomes as perceived by the speakers. Two oral histories are from prominent Southern politicians, George Wallace and Jesse Helms. The third offers a contrasting opinion from the viewpoint of an African American woman from Charlotte whose children went to integrated schools. This lesson includes teacher’s guides as well as the oral history audio excerpts and transcripts.
The African American Experience in NC After Reconstruction by Meghan McGlinn.
Grades 11-12 English Language Arts and Social Studies
The documents included in this lesson come from The North Carolina Experience collection of Documenting the American South and specifically focus on African Americans and race relations in the early 20th century. The lesson juxtaposes accounts that relate to both the positive improvements of black society and arguments against advancement. Combined, these primary sources and the accompanying lesson plan could be used as a Document Based Question (DBQ) in an AP US history course.
Conduct Your Own Oral History Project by Lisa Speaker
Grades 8 and 12 Social Studies
In this unit, students will research the moviegoing experience in the early 20th century using the Going to the Show collection from Documenting the American South. Specifically, students will analyze photographs, news clippings, and advertisements from the Bijou Theatre in Wilmington, NC. Students will then conduct oral history interviews with contemporary student peers and with family and/or friends representative of older generations. They will compare and contrast the findings from their interviews and describe how the moviegoing experience has changed and how it remains the same.
Image Analysis of the Bijou Theatre in the Early 1900s by Lisa Speaker
Grade 8 Social Studies
In this lesson, students will be presented with three images of the Bijou Theatre (pronounced “bye-joe” by locals): a photograph, a postcard derived from the photograph, and a sketch illustration of the Bijou Theatre. This lesson prompts students to look at the same place in two different time periods and to compare and contrast the nature of that location during those different time periods. Through these activities, students will gain practice using important historical critical thinking skills.
Native Americans and Jamestown by Jennifer Ricks
Grades 11-12 Social Studies
Using primary sources, students will investigate the role of Native Americans in the successes and failures of Jamestown. Students will identify and analyze inaccurate portrayals of Pocahontas and Powhatan by comparing historical facts with literary fiction.
Letters Back Home: A Soldier’s Perspective on World War I by George Gray Jr.
Grades 9-12 English Language Arts and Social Studies
World War I traumatized many of the soldiers that participated in the war. It had a lasting effect on the political, economic, social, and cultural lives of Americans during the 1920’s. By reading letters that one soldier wrote to his family back home. Students can gain insight into the reasons why the “Great War” had such a profound impact on the United States in years following the war.
1869: A Report on Schools in North Carolina by Victoria Schaefer.
Grades 9-12 English Language Arts and Social Studies
In this lesson, students look at a report on the status of education in North Carolina in 1869 and discuss the reasons given then for why the Governor and Legislature should support educating North Carolina’s children. They are provided an opportunity to compare and contrast the 1869 document against their own ideas about the civic duty to attend school through age sixteen and its relative value to the state and the country.
A Visit to Colonial North Carolina by Meghan McGlinn.
Grade 8 Social Studies
This lesson extends student learning about the colonial period in North Carolina history by incorporating primary sources from the Documenting the American South collection. After reading first-hand accounts of travelers to colonial America, students will create their own travel brochure advertising North Carolina.
Who Started the Civil War? Comparing Perspectives on the Causes of the War by Meghan McGlinn.
Grades 11-12 English Language Arts and Social Studies
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.
“Forward” to the Great Escape” by Jamie Lathan
Grades 11-12 Social Studies and Visual Arts
In this lesson, students will read a primary source document from Documenting the American South and examine a painting by Jacob Lawrence to understand the conditions of the underground railroad before the Civil War. Students will then create a painting and a narrative related to the underground railroad.
An Introduction to Slave Narratives: Harriet Jacobs’ Life of a Slave Girl by Joe Hooten
Grade 8 Social Studies
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.
Confederate Currency: An Inflation Simulation by Lewis Nelson
Grade 8 Social Studies
Using primary sources from the Documenting the American South collection, students will engage in a brief warm-up simulation of inflation during the Civil War while learning about issues faced on the home front in North Carolina.
Slave Songs by Meghan McGlinn
Grades 9-10 English Language Arts and Social Studies
In this lesson, students learn more about the religious observances of slaves in the United States by presenting hymns from Slave Songs in the US digitized in the Documenting the American South Collection. This is a great lesson to introduce the intersection of religion and slavery in a US history or African American history class.
Diary of a Tar Heel Confederate Soldier by Meghan McGlinn
Grade 8 Social Studies
Students read the account of a private from Charlotte who served in the Civil War and grew tired of only hearing about the war from the perspectives of officers. After reading his experiences as a “man behind the gun” students will write their own point-of-view piece. They also have the opportunity to read other diary accounts from the war available through Documenting the American South.
Exploring First-Person Female Narratives Related to Sherman’s March to the Sea by Meghan McGlinn
Grades 9-12 English Language Arts and Social Studies
This lesson plan uses first-person narratives from the Documenting the American South collection to demonstrate differences in perspective related to historical events, in this case, Sherman’s march to the sea. It encourages students to compare the views of two southern ladies with that of a Union soldier.
Exploring the 1835 NC Constitutional Convention by Barbara Jean
Grade 8 Social Studies
This internet scavenger hunt allows students to read the actual proceedings of the 1835 Constitutional Convention while they discover for themselves some of the significant amendments that were made. The activity also sets the foundation for class discussions about why the state Constitution was amended in 1835 and what impact the amendments had on religious groups, free blacks, and American Indians.
Exploring the Church in the Southern Black Community by Meghan McGlinn
Grades 8-12 Social Studies
Students explore the Documenting the American South Collection titled, the “Church in the Southern Black Community.” Beginning with a historian’s interpretation of the primary sources that make up the collection, students search the collection for evidence to describe the experiences of African Americans living in the south during the Antebellum through the Reconstruction Period centering on their community churches. The activity culminates in student presentations of a digital scrap book.
Religion and Slavery in the American South: Comparing Perspectives by Meghan McGlinn
Grades 9-12 Social Studies
In this lesson plan, students consult a variety of primary sources from the Documenting the American South Collection to uncover the varied impacts of religion in the lives of slaves in the American South. They are encouraged to seek out multiple, and sometimes contradictory, perspectives of this history.
Fugitive Slave Law Simulation by Meghan McGlinn
Grades 9-12 English Language Arts and Social Studies
Students face the critical issue of the Fugitive Slave Law that gave Southerners the right to regain their runaway slaves and return them to bondage. It is also considered by many to have contributed to growing sectionalism in the U.S. and eventually the Civil War. In order to take on the roles of historical actors, students will examine primary source documents from the Documenting the American South collection and critique arguments in favor and opposed to the law.
Interracial “Harmony” and the Great Awakening by Jamie Lathan
Grades 11-12 English Language Arts and Social Studies
The students will be introduced to two episodes in 19th-century American history, around the time of the Great Awakening, that show glimpses of some positive and negative consequences of interracial interaction in a religious context. The students will examine primary sources from the Documenting the American South collection to then be able to write a “sermon” from the perspective of a southern itinerant preacher during the Great Awakening arguing for or against religion as a cure for the social ill of racism and slavery.
Join Up by Kari Siko
Grades 9-10 English Language Arts and Social Studies
This lesson is designed to help students look more closely at the reasons why Paul and his friends from the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, along with other soldiers, joined the armed forces in WWI. Through primary sources and the novel, students will have a better understanding of propaganda and how it affects people.
Liberation and Deliberation: The North Carolina Ratification Debates of 1788 by Mark Laskowski
Grades 9-10 English Language Arts and Social Studies
This lesson focuses on the deliberations over ratification of the US Constitution by the North Carolina legislators. In particular it traces the arguments of the Federalists and Anti-federalists found in the primary sources digitized in the Documenting the American South collection.
Lunsford Lane: A Slave in North Carolina Who Buys His Freedom by John Schaefer AND Victoria Schaefer
Grades 9-12 English Language Arts and Social Studies
In this lesson plan, students read a primary source document to learn about the life of Lunsford Lane, a slave who worked in the city of Raleigh, North Carolina. Students answer questions about Lane based on his memoir to help them understand the details of his life.
Plantation Life in the 1840s: A Slave’s Description by John Schaefer AND Victoria Schaefer
Grades 9-12 English Language Arts and Social Studies
This lesson introduces students to a description of life on the plantation and the cultivation of cotton from the perspective of a slave. It focuses on the use of slave narratives made available by the Documenting the American South collection.
Storytellers in the Mountains of North Carolina by Martha Hayes
Grade 4 English Language Arts and Social Studies
Students will study five famous North Carolina storytellers: Jackie Torrence, Ray Hicks, Donald Davis, David Holt, and Sheila Kay Adams. They will research how their stories were collected and how they developed their storytelling styles that distinguish them from other tellers.
The Middle Passage According to Olaudah Equiano by Regina Wooten
Grades 11-12 Social Studies
In this lesson, students will read a first-hand account of a passenger aboard a slave ship headed for the new world. They learn about the horrors of the Middle Passage.
Welcome to the New World by Barbara Jean
Grade 8 Social Studies
This lesson provides students an opportunity to read and interpret writings of the late 1500s and to transfer the information provided in the writings into a visual medium as a means of understanding and interpretation. The lesson also provides students practice in persuasive techniques.