Teaching Strategies

  1. Research Projects
  2. Evaluation
  3. Extension
  4. Sample Overall Unit Plan

Each lesson unit discusses a person, place, event, or experience in which African Americans had to cope with certain challenges, or had to confront or overcome a particular set of problems or circumstances in North Carolina society. No matter what time period or person studied in The African American Experience in North Carolina, students will come away with a greater understanding of the many challenges facing African Americans in North Carolina.

Teachers may use these materials in at least four ways:

  • in conjunction with the North Carolina Freedom Park video, to encourage a dialogue and enhance understanding of our collective experiences as North Carolinians;
  • as a supplemental unit to supporting information presented in students' textbooks on North Carolina History
  • as a thematic unit in and of itself;
  • as individual lessons, taught in chronological or thematic order, along with a textbook or other materials supporting the eighth grade Social Studies Standard Course of Study;
  • as an integrated, interdisciplinary unit or lessons that are taught in conjunction with or by Language Arts, Fine Arts, and other teachers.

Students may study these lessons together as a class, individually, or in cooperative learning groups. Groups or individuals may review all the lessons or the lessons may be divided among the groups or students within a group. Because class discussion of the experiences described in the materials is crucial to collective understanding, students should share their findings with the entire class. Individual students or small groups should make presentations to the class using illustrations, informational reports, role-plays, and other resources to teach the class about their topics.

Classes should discuss the circumstances of the person, place, event or experience, the problems or challenges associated with that experience, and the impact of the person, place, event or experience on North Carolina, the United States, and the world. Students should be able to support their statements with the evidence from the lessons or their research, and should be respectful of the opinions of others in the discussion.

Research Projects

The research projects offer students an opportunity to do in-depth research on a topic relating to African American history. Students should be encouraged to emphasize the impact of these issues on North Carolina. These projects can be assigned at the beginning of a unit on Civil Rights, African American history, or other related topics, and the individual lessons can be taught in class while the research project is ongoing over a one, two, or three week period. Students may be allowed to choose which project they would like to do either individually or as a group, or the class may be assigned one research topic to do collectively.


Each lesson and project offers answer keys and clear evaluation rubrics to assist teachers in assessing students' work.


Each lesson and research project provides opportunities for further study. Students can research more about the person, event, place, or experience using the media center or the Internet. Students should research images of the persons, places or events to illustrate their presentations to the class. Many of these images are available on the Internet. Students may also expand their research, and create additional lessons on other important African American people and experiences in our state. The North Carolina Freedom Park encourages teachers and classes to submit this additional research to be included in the Freedom Monument Project's resources. Send your materials to [email protected].

Overall Unit Plan

(to be tailored by the teacher to fit available class time)

1. Begin the unit by assigning every student to interview their elders in the creation of a family tree, particularly noting when their families first came to North Carolina if known. Be sure that students also ask their elders if particular family members played a role in North Carolina history in any way, large or small. Have students share their findings and create a bulletin board or other "monument" or remembrance space in the school hallway or another spot on campus to the families represented in your class. (one or two class periods.)

2. Introduce the unit on The African American Experience in North Carolina by showing the North Carolina Freedom Monument project video. Facilitate a discussion about why the project is important to many North Carolinians following the framework as discussed above in the section Classroom Dialogue (one or two class periods).

3. Introduce materials from the research project the "Civil Rights Movement." LINK Review the time line and important events. Assign groups or individual students to work on one of the research projects. Schedule time for students to work in the media center or on the Internet to conduct research over the next two or three weeks. Students (and parents) should be informed that the projects will require research time that will not be provided in class.

4. Over the next few class periods, have students individually, in small groups, or as a class do the lessons from the units on The People, The Places, The Events, and The Culture. Discuss the significance of these experiences and contributions.

5. Have students present their findings from the research projects to the class. These findings will build upon information presented throughout the unit of study, and will serve as an assessment tool for the project.

6. Set aside the last day of the unit to discuss and review all of the experiences, concepts, and contributions studied during the unit. If time permits, show the video about the North Carolina Freedom Park again. Use the following questions to guide your discussion:

  • After learning about the struggles and contributions of North Carolina's African Americans, what is the significance of a community dialogue on the experiences of African Americans in North Carolina?
  • What are some of the significant contributions made by North Carolina's African Americans to their communities? The state? The United States?
  • Why do you think people have come up with the idea for a monument at this time?
  • How would you go about honoring the experiences of different peoples in North Carolina?

Extension: Fine Arts -Students may also want to design their own monument, either individually or as a class. Working with the Fine Arts teachers, students may draw or make monuments out of any media they choose (for example, clay, sticks, drawings, paper maché, and so on). Students could hold a competition to determine the best three designs to be sent to the North Carolina Freedom Park.

Language Arts -Students could write a biography of a person important to the African American experience in North Carolina, or write a narrative account of a particular historic experience from the point-of-view of an African American. These can be submitted to the North Carolina Freedom Park. Send your materials to [email protected].

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