Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

Students read about and discuss United States history, from slavery to the civil rights movement, grappling with the discrimination and broken promises that African Americans faced.

Unit Summary

In this unit, students learn about United States history by reading the core text, Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African-Americans, and excerpts from Let It Shine: Stories of Black Freedom Fighters and Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America. Throughout the unit, students grapple with the discrimination and broken promises African Americans faced, paired with the endless determination and perseverance that fueled countless triumphs to overcome unfair and unjust treatment. Through a study of slavery up through the civil rights movement, students will be challenged to think critically about different events, influential people, and how they have had a lasting impact on the America we know today. This is incredibly important for helping students not only understand America’s past, but also to understand the realities of America’s present. It is our goal that this unit, combined with others in the curriculum, will inspire a passion within students to stand up for what is right and to fight for civil rights in order to attain equality and justice for all human beings, regardless of race. The goal of this unit is not depth; rather, the focus is more on exposure and building student understanding of the history behind the civil rights movement while simultaneously building a sense of empowerment and empathy. In fifth grade, students will study the civil rights movement in depth, learning about a wider variety of influential leaders, groups, and events, especially those in which youth advocacy and fight inspired and drove change. It is our hope that the combination of both units will equip students with the tools necessary to begin to challenge injustice in their own lives.

The unit requires students to deeply analyze a text to see how an author develops different ideas and points using vivid evidence in both the text and illustrations. Students will analyze author’s word choice, the different details an author includes, and the way in which an author presents information in order to build a deeper understanding of the time period and the text. Students will also be challenged to carry information across multiple texts in order to build a deeper understanding of content and themes.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • How have racist ideas and racism shaped United States history and policies?

  • What are some of the key events in United States history since the 1600s? How did each event impact life for African Americans? 

  • How can courageous individuals create and drive change?

Vocabulary

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Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

abolitionist abolish affairs ancestry apprehensive assassinated banned boycott condemn conviction confederacy contradict cringe cultivate despite debts degrading defiance deserted distinction dreaded drafted ease eavesdropping embrace enacted endure enraged enslaved expose flee fugitive gossip guidance harassed illiterate import innovation integrating intolerance invading jim crow justify kin longed lynching overseer persisted privilege practical prejudice reputation reconstruction resist scolded slavery superior sympathy taunt tension tense union vowed

Idiom/Cultural Reference

"back on feet" "boiling point" "fruits of labor" "in the limelight" "swallow your pride"

Root/Affix

-ist -sion en- ill- in- re-

Notes for Teachers

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Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers build their own knowledge and understanding of the key understandings of the unit. To do so, we recommend the following resources: 

Lesson Map

1

  • Heart and Soul — Prologue (7)

    RI.4.6

    RI.4.8

Explain who is speaking in the prologue and why the author would choose to write this way. 

2

  • Heart and Soul pp. 8 – 13

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.5

    RI.4.7

    RI.4.8

Explain the significance of the statement “It should have been a proud moment for everybody, but, honey, we didn’t have much to celebrate."

3Essential Task

  • Heart and Soul pp. 15 – 21 — Chapter 2

    RI.4.7

    RI.4.8

Explain how the author uses details and illustrations to build a deeper understand of slavery. 

4

  • Heart and Soul pp. 23 – 24 — Chapter 3 (STOP on bottom of third paragraph)

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.7

    RI.4.8

Analyze what evidence the author includes to support the statement that abolitionists “lit a fire inside many a slave to take their freedom."

5

  • Hand in Hand pp. 27 – 32 — Fredrick Douglass

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.5

    RI.4.8

Explain where Frederick Douglass found his inspiration and drive.

6

  • Let It Shine pp. 17 – 22 — Harriet Tubman (stop at the top of page 22)

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.8

Analyze the details an author includes to support a quote by Harriet Tubman. 

7

  • Let It Shine pp. 22 – 27

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.5

    RI.4.8

Explain the significance of the quote “Harriet Tubman’s name will never lose its distinction."

8

2 days

Informative Writing

  • Heart and Soul

  • Let It Shine

  • Hand in Hand

    W.4.2

    W.4.2.a

    W.4.2.b

    W.4.2.c

    W.4.2.d

    W.4.2.e

Write a multiple-paragraph essay about how courageous individuals create and drive change. 

9Essential Task

  • Heart and Soul pp. 24 – 27 — Chapter 3

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.5

    RI.4.7

Explain the events that led up to the South being ready for a fight.

10

  • Heart and Soul — Chapter 4

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.7

    RI.4.8

    SL.4.1

Explain why the chapter was titled “Lincoln’s War” and if Lincoln’s actions helped or hurt the conditions for enslaved people. 

11

Discussion

  • Hand in Hand

  • Heart and Soul

    RI.4.9

    W.4.9

    SL.4.1

    SL.4.4

Analyze and discuss unit-essential questions by stating a claim and supporting the claim with details from multiple sources.

12

Informative Writing

  • Hand in Hand

  • Heart and Soul

  • Let It Shine

    W.4.2

    W.4.2.a

    W.4.2.b

    W.4.2.c

    W.4.2.d

    W.4.2.e

Write a multiple-paragraph essay to answer a unit essential question.

 

13

  • Heart and Soul pp. 39 – 45

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.7

    RI.4.8

    SL.4.1

Defend how Reconstruction was supported by segregationist beliefs.

14

  • The Friendship pp. 30 – 51

    RL.4.3

    RI.4.9

Explain what the events in The Friendship reveal about the time period.

15

  • Heart and Soul — Chapter 6

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.7

    RI.4.8

Explain what life was like on the frontier for Buffalo Soldiers and freed black people.

16

  • The Friendship pp. 9 – 29

    RL.4.3

    RI.4.9

Explain what the events in The Friendship reveal about the time period.

17Essential Task

  • Heart and Soul pp. 53 – 61 — Chapter 7

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.5

    RI.4.8

Explain what effect the Great Migration had on the lives of African Americans and the challenges they faced in their new communities. 

18

  • Heart and Soul pp. 62 – 69 — Chapter 8

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.8

Describe the progress African Americans made in the early twentieth century.

19

  • The Gold Cadillac pp. 9 – 26

    RL.4.3

    RI.4.9

    SL.4.1

Debate if it was a good decision for Wilbert to drive the Cadillac south.

20

  • The Gold Cadillac pp. 27 – 43

    RL.4.3

    RI.4.9

    SL.4.1

Explain what the events in The Gold Cadillac reveal about the time period.

21

  • Heart and Soul pp. 71 – 77 — Chapter 9

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.7

    RI.4.8

Describe how the experience of fighting in World War II changed the people who returned home and how it changed the country.

22

  • Heart and Soul pp. 79 – 80 — Chapter 10

    RI.4.8

Explain why the author titles the chapter “Black Innovation.”

23

  • Heart and Soul — Chapter 11

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.8

Explain how Jim Crow was dying.

24

  • Heart and Soul pp. 91 – 95

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.8

    SL.4.1

Explain why the author titles the last chapter “Revolution” and why what happened was a revolution.

25

  • Heart and Soul — Epilogue

    RI.4.8

Explain the significance of the final quote in Heart and Soul.

26

Discussion

  • Hand in Hand

  • Heart and Soul

  • Let It Shine

    RI.4.9

    W.4.9

    SL.4.1

    SL.4.4

 Debate and discuss unit essential questions.

27

Informative Writing

  • All unit texts

    W.4.2

    W.4.2.a

    W.4.2.b

    W.4.2.c

    W.4.2.d

    W.4.2.e

Write a multiple-paragraph essay to answer a unit essential question. 

28

6 days

Informative Writing

  • Let It Shine

  • Hand in Hand

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.5

    RI.4.8

    W.4.2

    W.4.2.a

    W.4.2.b

    W.4.2.c

    W.4.2.d

    W.4.2.e

    W.4.7

    W.4.8

    W.4.9

    SL.4.1

    SL.4.4

    SL.4.5

Research and present about an African American hero.

29

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.4.3 — Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

  • RI.4.5 — Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.

  • RI.4.6 — Compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event or topic; describe the differences in focus and the information provided.

  • RI.4.7 — Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.

  • RI.4.8 — Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.

  • RI.4.9 — Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.4.3 — Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.4.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.4.4 — Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

  • SL.4.5 — Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

Writing Standards
  • W.4.1 — Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information

  • W.4.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

  • W.4.2.a — Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • W.4.2.b — Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.

  • W.4.2.c — Link ideas within categories of information using words and phrases (e.g., another, for example, also, because).

  • W.4.2.d — Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

  • W.4.2.e — Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented

  • W.4.7 — Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

  • W.4.8 — Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.

  • W.4.9 — Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Spiral Standards

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L.4.1

L.4.2

L.4.3

L.4.4

L.4.4.b

L.4.5

L.4.6

RF.4.3

RF.4.4

RI.4.1

RI.4.10

RI.4.4

SL.4.1

W.4.10

W.4.4

W.4.5

W.4.6

W.4.9