Teaching Guide

Please refer to the module Teaching Guide for additional information.

Lesson summary
Instructional use
Pre-lesson activity
Standards covered by this lesson
Selected bibliography
Assessment

Lesson summary

Elizabeth Freeman, formerly known as Mum Bett, was the first slave to successfully sue for her freedom under the Massachusetts state constitution in 1781. She tells the story of her life in the household of Colonel Ashley, and how she gained the courage to demand her rights by listening to conversations about freedom and liberty in Ashley’s home. Later, Massachusetts would be the first state to demand a Bill of Rights be amended to the Constitution as a condition of ratification. The story emphasizes how the values and beliefs expressed in the Bill of Rights (Amendments I-X) were first expressed in the state constitutions. Mum Bett lived to be 87 years old, and was the great-grandmother of W.E.B. DuBois.

Instructional use

Please refer to the module Teaching Guide for instructional use scenarios.

Pre-lesson activity

It is recommended that teachers preview the lesson to identify concepts that may need to be reviewed before students begin, such as slavery in colonial America. Teachers may also wish to create a vocabulary/spelling list for terms found in this lesson.

Teachers may want to read the text of the Bill of Rights (Amendments I-X) to the class and pose some questions to students before getting started: Why do you think these amendments were important to the early Americans? What do these amendments say about life in the colonies? What do they mean to you in the context of today? Texts of the amendments can be found at U.S. Constitution Online.

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Standards covered by this lesson


Refer to the module Teaching Guide for list a Language Arts goals covered by all WebDocent lessons.

Grades 7-8 Social Science and American History

Illinois State Goal 14

14F. Students can understand the development of United States political ideas and traditions.

14.F.3a Analyze historical influences on the development of political ideas and practices as enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Illinois Constitution.

14.F.3b Describe how United States political ideas and traditions were instituted in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 

Illinois State Goal 16

Understand and analyze events, trends, individuals, and movements shaping the history of Illinois, the United States, and other nations.

Illinois State Goal 18

Understand, analyze, and compare social systems with an emphasis on the United States.

Selected bibliography

Alfred E. Young and Terry J. Fife, with Mary E. Janzen. We the People: Voices and Images of the New Nation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993.

Wilds, Mary. Mumbet: The Life and Times of Elizabeth Freeman. Avisson Press, Inc., 1999.

http://www.juntosociety.com/founders/mumbett.html

http://www.multied.com/revolt/Townshend.html


Assessment

Refer to the module Teaching Guide for an explanation of the online journal for assessment purposes.


See the Additional Activities page for ideas for extending the lesson offline.

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