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The Northern Migration
The Communication Network Lesson Plan: Keeping in Touch
In the Information Age, communication between friends and family is only a mouse-click away. However, in the Nineteenth century, African-American communication was challenged not only by distance but also by the barriers of slavery. Students will read The Northern Migration and create an eight-frame cartoon depicting the means of communication between the freed people in the North and those enslaved in the South. Students will participate in a "Gallery Walk" to view the work of their classmates.
Grade Levels:Middle and high school, grades 6-8
For use with:The Northern Migration
Concentration Area:History
National Curriculum Standards met by this lesson
The following standards have been taken from the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) standards.
Students will understand

  • Understand and know how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns.
  • Know how to:

  • Identify the temporal structure and connections disclosed in historical narratives.
  • Perceive past events with historical empathy.
Time required
One 90-minute class period: 65 minutes to read the information and create the cartoon; 15 minutes for the gallery walk
Materials needed
Anticipatory Set

  1. Brainstorm all the means of communication available today. List all of the students' ideas on the board. Discuss what means of communication would have been available in the Nineteenth century. Explain that communication was a challenge for all Americans, but that it was especially difficult between freed people and those still enslaved. Have students discuss why it would have been so hard (include ideas about reading, writing, etc.) for them to communicate.

  1. Distribute the narrative The Northern Migration, the Cartoon Creation Handout with the Grading Criteria Handout on the reverse side. Be sure you:

    1. Explain that students will have 65 minutes to complete the reading and the cartoon.
    2. Have colored pencils available for student use.
  2. Monitor the class and assist as needed.
  3. At the end of 65 minutes, explain that the students will participate in a "Gallery Walk." In other words, all of their work will be put on display, and they will have the opportunity to view each other's work. Explain to students the procedures as outlined below:

    1. During the walk, students will complete a cartoon assessment for three of their classmates' cartoons.
    2. Before writing their assessments, students will view all of the work in the gallery.
    3. Distribute the Gallery Walk Handout and Cartoon Rubric Handout to students.
    4. Have the students post their work.
    5. Then, tell them how much time they have left in the class.
    6. Monitor the students as they participate in the "Gallery Walk."
    7. Collect the assessments.
  4. Wrap Up: Present these discussion questions to students:

    1. What did you notice about the cartoons?
    2. What can you learn from the cartoons?
    3. How did reading and creating the cartoons change or support your ideas regarding the enslaved and freed people in the United States?
    4. Do you have any final thoughts?

Assess students' work according to the Grading Criteria Handout

Interdisciplinary Links

  • Art: Collaborate with the art teacher to help students understand the concept of storyboarding, and cartooning.
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