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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Unit Launch

Online learning modules that include short videos and readings to help teachers prepare to teach a unit.

 

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

Supporting Materials

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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?

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Write complete sentences using a variety of constructions 

There are no new sentence focus areas in this unit. During this unit students will practice responding to daily Target Task questions using a variety of sentence constructions. 

Paragraph-Level Focus Areas

  • Create outlines for multiple paragraph essays 
  • Draft an introductory topic sentence
  • Draft a concluding sentence 
  • Draft multiple paragraph essays
  • Use transition words and phrases to connect paragraphs 

At this point it is assumed that students are able to outline and write strong single-paragraphs. Building on their understanding of single paragraph structure, students begin outlining multiple paragraph essays. Once students have an understanding of how to outline a multiple paragraph essay, they will learn how to turn their outlines into drafts. Additionally, students will learn how to use transition words and phrases to show the connection between different paragraphs.

Informational Writing Focus Areas

  • Research and take notes on a topic, grouping related information
  • Use notes to complete single-paragraph outlines
  • Develop the topic with facts, definitions and details 
  • Use transition words to link ideas 
  • Provide a concluding statement or section 

At the end of the unit students research an African American hero. In doing so, students practice all of the previously taught informational writing and research strategies they have learned over the course of the year.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Questioning and clarifying to build understanding. Students seek to clarify a particular point a student makes by asking follow up questions. 
  • Build on and challenge partner's ideas. Students challenge the thinking of their peers.
  • Synthesizing to build deeper meaning. Students synthesize everything they heard into a coherent statement at the end of the discussion 

The main focus of this unit is getting students to critique and analyze the reasoning of others. At this point, students should be able to clarify and explain their own thoughts using ideas and vocabulary from the text. They should also be able to engage with the thinking of others by building on, paraphrasing, and asking clarifying questions. Now students will work on engaging with others at a much deeper level. 

Instead of just building on to a partner’s idea, students should begin to challenge his or her thinking. To do so, students may focus on a particular idea or example, and then explain why they disagree. Or, multiple students should be pushed to analyze and critique a particular problem or line of thought. The idea is that students are able to use discussion strategies to go deep into a particular point or idea. 

Finally, students should be able to synthesize key ideas from the discussion. The synthesis should hit on the key takeaways and learning of the discussion. This is to ensure that students walk away from the discussion with new or deeper understandings of the topic.

Guidance on teacher moves to support these discussion focuses can be found in our Guide to Academic Discourse (below).

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

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

Idiom/Cultural Reference

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

Root/Affix

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

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Vocabulary Package

Additional vocabulary tools that help reinforce and support student vocabulary development.

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.

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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.

Sprial 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