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John Rankin and the Underground Railroad

Lesson Plan

Reverend John Rankin and His Wife

Created by Heidi Breudigam

Core Theme:

Underground Railroad



Duration of Lesson:

2 days (45 minute periods)

2nd grade Social Studies Benchmarks and Indicators:

History:  compare daily life in the past and present demonstrating an understanding that while basic human needs remain the same, they are met in different ways in different times and places.
History:  Daily Life  
Use historical artifacts, photographs, biographies, maps, diaries and folklore to answer questions about daily life in the past.
Social Studies Skills and Methods
Obtain information from oral visual, print and electronic sources.
Communicate information orally, visually or in writing.
Identify sources used to gather information:  people, printed materials, electronic sources.

Primary sources:

Letters on American Slavery by Rev. John Rankin
Review on the Statement of the Faculty of Lane Seminary (Ohio History Connection)
Underground Railroad in Ohio Map (An online version is available here.)                                            

Summary of the Lessons:

Lesson 1
1. Students will view background information on the Underground Railroad in Ohio.
Underground Railroad Information Station, Ohio History Connection
2.  Students will read with a partner a section from the book Life on the Underground Railroad by Sally Senzell Isaacs and write the main idea and two key details of each section.  They will then share them with the class.
Lesson 2
1. Students will complete the person of history worksheet and write three interview questions for Rev. or Mrs. John Rankin. (The teacher will portray either Rev. or Mrs. Rankin, dressing for the role.)
2.  Students will read and discuss primary source letters and sermon by Rev. John Rankin on slavery as a class.
Lesson 3
1.  Students will interview Rev. or Mrs. Rankin.
2.  Students will complete the interview questions and answers. .

Description of the instructional steps to implement the lesson.

Lesson 1
1. Read information from the websites on the Underground Railroad in Ohio and discuss with the class.
2. Pass out Underground Railroad books and have students read with a partner a section of the book.
3. Students write down the main idea and key details from the section. 
4. Student partners present their information to the class.
5. Evaluation – Main idea and key details worksheet and teacher observation of how the students work in groups and their discussions.
Lesson 2
1. Pass out person of history worksheet and fill out the first side about Rev. John Rankin or his wife Jean.
2. Students write interview questions for them.
3. Teacher will read excerpts of Rev. Rankin’s letters on slavery to his brother in Kentucky and his sermon to the Lane seminary to the class.  The class should discuss the impact of these ideas on a pre-Civil War society.
4. Evaluation- quality of interview questions and their appropriateness to the subject.
Lesson 3
1. Teacher will dress as Rev. or Jean Rankin and the students will interview them.
2. Students will complete the back of the person in history worksheet, telling the point of view of Rev. or Jean Rankin on the Civil War and slavery.

Post Assessment and Rubric:


Material needed by teachers:

Computer and projector to view websites
Clothes to dress up in as Rev. or Jean Rankin
Background knowledge on Rev. and Jean Rankin

Materials needed by students:

Life on the Underground Railroad by Sally Senzell Isaacs
Main idea and Key details worksheet
Person of History worksheet