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North Carolina History Lesson Plans

1869: A Report on Schools in North Carolina
In this lesson, students use a guided reading to 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 16, and its relative value to the state and the country.

Busing for Integration vs. Neighborhood Schools
This lesson plan will introduce students to the political, social, and economic issues surrounding school desegregation using oral histories from those who experienced it firsthand. They will learn about the history of the "separate but equal" U.S. school system, the 1971 Swann case which forced Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) to integrate, and the recent decision to discontinue busing for racial integration in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Changing Communities: Past vs. Future
This lesson plan introduces students to changes that have occurred in western North Carolina, through two hundred years of national and regional development. Students will learn about the geographical, political, and technological issues that have influenced change in mountain communities using oral histories by Madison County residents.

Cherokee Relocation
Using primary sources from the Documenting the American South collection, students will investigate the boundaries of the Cherokee lands set for North Carolina after the Revolutionary War.

Children at Work: Exposing Child Labor in the Cotton Mills
In this lesson, students will learn about the use of child labor in the cotton mills of the Carolinas during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They will learn what life was like for a child worker: how much the workers made, how many hours they worked each day, what their homes were like and what they did for fun.

Civil Disobedience and Political Change in the 1960s
Students will compare and contrast "Civil Disobedience" and "Nonviolent resistance" during the Civil Rights era in N.C.. They will analyze changes in North Carolina during the postwar period to the 1970's and assess the political and social impact of the Civil Rights movement on local, state and national levels.

Conduct your own oral history project
In this unit for grade 8, students will research the experience of going to the movies by conducting background research on the moviegoing experience in the early 20th century, and conducting oral history interviews with contemporary student peers, and with family and/or friends representative of older generations.

Confederate Currency: An Inflation Simulation
Using primary sources from the Documenting the American South collection, this lesson provides a brief simulation of inflation during the Civil War while introducing students to issues faced on the home front.

Conflicts in North Carolina Colonial History: Tuscarora War (Lesson 1)
In this lesson the class will examine primary source documents and secondary sources to answer the questions who, what, when, where and why about the Tuscarora War.

Conflicts in North Carolina Colonial History: Culpepper's Rebellion
Independently students will examine primary source documents and secondary sources to answer the questions who, what, when, where and why about the Culpepper's Rebellion.

De Facto vs. De Jure Segregation
In this lesson, students will contrast and compare de facto and de jure segregation, listening to oral history examples of each from residents of Charlotte, North Carolina. Students will then brainstorm solutions to each type of segregation, and will discuss why de facto segregation can persist even after de jure segregation is eliminated.

Development and Flooding: Is There a Connection?
In this lesson, students will take their knowledge about the hydrosphere and apply it to the issue of population growth and development. In particular, students will learn how increasing development in eastern North Carolina may have worsened the effects of flooding from Hurricane Floyd, due to lack of soil and tree absorption of run-off. Students will create their own development plans for North Carolina in small groups, explaining how their plan will benefit North Carolina’s water resources and environment.

Diary of a Tar Heel Confederate Soldier
In this lesson 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.

Early North Carolina Exploration (warm-up activity)
This lesson is intended to be used at the beginning of a unit that examines the early exploration of the North Carolina coast and its inhabitants

Explore and compare and contrast the business environment in Wilmington, North Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina in the early 1900s by exploring the city directories
Students will explore the city directories for Wilmington and Charlotte, two prominent North Carolina cities in the early 1900s, to analyze, compare and contrast their respective business environments at a specific time, and across time. The city directories were published by each city's chamber of commerce.

Explore evolution of personal transportation in Wilmington, North Carolina in the early 1900s through the use of images, Sanborn Maps and Wilmington City Directories
Students will explore and analyze photographs, postcards and Sanborn Maps available in the UNC DocSouth Going to the Show digital collection, photographs from the Dr. Robert M. Fales Collection, and Wilmington City Directories from the early 1900s that illustrate the evolution of personal transportation from horse drawn carriages to automobiles in the early 1900s. Students will expand their visual literacy skills, their map analysis skills, and their skills to synthesize information gathered from several sources to draw conclusions about historical transformations.

Exploring the 1835 NC Constitutional Convention
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 early North Carolina moving picture theater experience in the early 1900s through the Bijou Theatre, Wilmington, North Carolina's first moving picture theater
Students will develop an understanding of the early moving picture theater experience during the early 20th century through photographs, news clippings, advertisements and Sanborn maps; practice visual literacy skills and gain experience analyzing visual and written sources of historical information; and learn to synthesize the information found in different kinds of primary documents by developing a project that provides a visual or textual comparison of their analysis across two different time periods.

Eyewitness to the flood
This lesson looks at actions and reactions of those who have been affected by hurricanes and floods by contrasting what happens to Janie in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God with personal accounts from North Carolinians who were flooded out of their homes by Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

Hurricane Floyd
One of the most damaging hurricanes to hit North Carolina, Hurricane Floyd made landfall on September 16, 1999. Visitors to this site will see images of the damage that occurred to the eastern part of North Carolina and hear the stories of those who lived through this devastating storm.

Image Analysis through the use of photographs, postcards and illustrations of the Bijou Theatre in Wilmington, North Carolina in the early 1900s
By using postcards and photographs related to the UNC DocSouth Going to the Show digital collection that highlights the moviegoing experience in the early 1900s, students will expand their visual literacy skills and gain experience analyzing comparable visual images of the same subject, and consider motivations for different visual image constructs.

Interstate Highways From the Ground Up
This lesson gives students a first-hand opportunity to hear about the planning and effort it takes to build a highway through an oral history of a North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) resident engineer. Through his oral history, students will learn about "the largest single construction project in the history of the NCDOT."

Introduction to Colonial Times
Students will be introduced to different types of sources, examine primary sources in detail, define colony and learn when the colonial time period was in relation to other historical events.

Interpreting Diaries of the American South
Students will read diaries of individuals who lived in the American South from 1865-1917. After reading these diaries the students will use a visual means of displaying their interpretation. Visual presentations will be one of the following: shadow box, poster, PowerPoint using drawings done by the student, brochure, or presenting an item that would have been used during the time that their diary was written.

Labor unions in the cotton mills
In this lesson, students will learn about the labor union movement in the U.S., specifically the union influence on the cotton mills of North and South Carolina. Students will listen to oral histories from former mill workers explaining why they did or did not become involved with the union, and then will be asked to make that decision themselves. They will provide an explanation for their decision by giving a speech to convince their classmates to join or not join, drawing on the oral histories and what they've learned.

Land of Milk and Honey Relocated or Not (Lesson 1)
In this lesson students will brainstorm reasons people leave their homes and move somewhere else. After discussing modern day reasons for migration students will explore the motives of early settlers to immigrate to colonial North Carolina. Motives will be explored using a primary source, specifically letters from potential settlers asking for permission to come to the land of "milk and honey".

Land of Milk and Honey (Lesson 2)
Using primary sources students will examine the use of propaganda and how it influenced people's decisions to immigrate to the colonies.

Land of Milk and Honey Relocated or Not (Lesson 3)
Using primary sources students will read about the establishment of the city of New Bern, North Carolina. The students will also use maps to draw conclusions about what was read.

Liberation and Deliberation: The North Carolina Ratification Debates of 1788
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
Lunsford Lane's story is about a slave who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Though his master owns as many as three plantations outside of Raleigh, Mr. Lane is not a plantation slave. Rather, he works for his master in the city-dwelling. His story provides an example of an ingenious, determined, and disciplined slave who's vision and creativity affords him the opportunity to earn money and eventually buy his freedom. This is an incredible story.

Measuring the waters
In this lesson plan, students will discuss and understand measurement of a single event and measurement over time. Students will learn how to use different tools for measurement, and decide which are better for long-term or short-term use.

Moravians in North Carolina
In this lesson students will explore groups that moved to North Carolina from other colonies. Time will be spent discussing the influence the Moravians had on colonial North Carolina. Students will also research the buildings that were a part of an early Moravian town.

Native Americans and Jamestown
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.

Native Americans Original Natives of Colonial North Carolina
Students will explore different groups of Native Americans that inhabited the lands of North Carolina prior to the colonist's arrival. Students will also examine how colonists interacted with the Native Americans after the colonists arrived in North Carolina.

North Carolina: A Pirates Safe Haven
Students will examine written records regarding the presence of pirates off the coast of the North Carolina colony. Using primary source documents, the students will discover that North Carolina did not discourage pirates from living along the coast. Economic and social reasons for harboring pirates will be explored.

North Carolina Women and the Progressive Movement
This lesson includes primary sources 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.

Pirates of the Carolinas
Students will examine written records regarding famous pirates living in the Carolinas. Students will learn about the lives of Blackbeard, Anne Bonney and Mary Reade.

Politics and Economics of Land Settlement in Colonial North Carolina
Using a primary source, students will examine the political nature of land settlement in North Carolina. The influence the economy had on land settlement will also be highlighted. Students will also learn about colonial industry in North Carolina.

Politics and Economics of Land Settlement in Colonial North Carolina
Using a primary source, students will examine the political nature of land settlement in North Carolina. The influence the economy had on land settlement will also be highlighted. Students will also learn about colonial industry in North Carolina.

Recording School Desegregation: Conduct Your Own Oral History Project
In this unit, students will research the history of school desegregation, and bring that history to life by listening to oral histories of North Carolinians who lived through desegregation. Students will then become historians, recording their own oral histories with relatives or community members, and reflecting on the experience through writing. The oral histories will be collected into a final project and placed in the school's library for students and teachers to study in the future.

School Desegregation Pioneers
In this lesson, students will learn about the challenges faced by the first students to desegregate Southern schools, such as racism, verbal harassment, and physical threats. They will hear oral histories telling the story of desegregation pioneers in Alabama and North Carolina, and critically analyze images of school desegregation. Students will then write a narrative from the point of view of a black student desegregating a white school, exploring how the student may have felt about the experience.

Slave Narratives: A Genre Study
In this lesson, students will read selected excerpts from slave narratives, determining common characteristics of the genre. Students will then write their own slave narratives as a slave from their region of North Carolina, researching for historical accuracy and incorporating elements of the slave narrative genre to demonstrate understanding.

Slavery Across North Carolina
In this lesson, students will read excerpts from slave narratives written by North Carolinians to better understand the slave experience in different regions across the state.

Spirituals and the Power of Music in Slave Narratives
After reading two brief excerpts about the importance of music in the lives of slaves from slave narratives written by Thomas L. Johnson and William H. Robinson, students will listen to and discuss folk spirituals.

Storytellers in the Mountains of North Carolina
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.

A survivor's story: How does it really feel?
In this lesson plan, students will look at photographs of women and discuss their first impressions. After listening to an excerpt from an oral history, students will gain empathy for a flood survivor of 1999's Hurricane Floyd.

Two Perspectives on Slavery: A Comparison of Personal Narrative
Students will read and analyze personal narratives written by two North Carolinians who grew up on antebellum plantations in New Bern. One, Mary Norcott Bryan, was the daughter of a wealthy slaveholder, while the other author, William Henry Singleton, was a man born into slavery who fought for the Union Army. How do the authors' cultural backgrounds influence the texts?

A Visit to Colonial North Carolina
This lesson plan 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.