Classroom Activities: 

Home      Elementary      Middle School      High School

A Home Reunited (Part of A Place Called Home Unit)

Lesson Overview

Overview: Throughout the full unit, students will read several texts and explore the different concepts the authors have about home and what it is. In this lesson, students will synthesize what they've read from other authors while concentrating on President Lincoln's role in creating one "home" for all Americans through "The Gettysburg Address".
Grade Range: 9-12

After completing this activity, students will be able to:

  • Relate the content and setting of historical nonfiction to self and world through reading and writing. 
  • Analyze, compare and contrast primary sources created by Americans in the 1800s. 
  • Determine main ideas and support in a text.
  • Understand different concepts of home and how they relate to various
    Americans of the past. 
  • Comprehend and communicate an understanding of the concept of home and its importance in writing. 
Time Required: Two class periods of 45 minutes.
Discipline/Subject: English Language Arts
Topic/Subject: African American History, Literature, Presidents, Women's History
Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877



Illinois Learning Standards:  
  Common Core Standards-Reading standards for informational texts grades 9-10, Integration of knowledge and ideas.
7. Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
9. Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington’s Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”), including how they address related themes and concepts.




Handouts: Two column notes (print page 3 of PDF), Gettysburg Address transcription
Analysis Tools: Written Document Analysis sheet (optional-Sound Recording and Photo Analysis sheets). Main Idea Analysis (print page 4 of PDF).
Other: After reading selections by authors who were slaves and free Americans in the 1800s (including Harriet Jacobs, William W. Brown and Eliza Andrews), students will begin this lesson focusing on Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Following this lesson, the unit will continue into the 20th century with King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and selections by Alice Walker and Dudley Randall. The capstone will be a person narrative in the form of a narrative essay, a speech, a letter, a poem or a ballad.
Library of Congress Items: Title of Source:First Draft of Gettysburg Address
  Title of Source:Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Gettysburg
  Title of Source:Lincoln's Speech at Gettysburg



1. Prior to this activity, discuss the question, How different are the "homes" in the narratives reading? What type of place does each author call home and how does that change throughout the narrative. What do these have in common-outside of basic structure, etc? Students create a Venn diagram or a simple T-Chart to keep these ideas separate to have an informal discussion.
2. Follow up with a discussion of why these are different which should lead into a mini lesson on the circumstances and causes of the Civil War. Provide background on this subject not previously covered. Students may use two-column notes (page 3 of PDF) to organize this information.
3. Project the original copy of the Gettysburg Address on the screen and/or distribute copies. If possible, split the screen to show typed, easy to read text as well. Read it aloud or use a recording and show a photograph of Lincoln delivering the address.
4.  Analyze the meaning of Lincoln's address and the document itself. Ask students to identify the main idea (page 4 of PDF) and support the uses in his argument. Students should hone in on the theme of moving forward in honor of those lost (Civil War soldiers, but also Jacobs and Brown) to make the nation/world better, to improve the collective "home".
5. Ask students to add their own reasons to the list. Why was it important to consider all humans/Americans when creating this new version of freedom and changing the meaning of home for so many? As homework, students write a well-developed paragraph on this topic using a main idea/topic sentence and reasons (may combine Lincoln's with their own). Have them complete the main idea analysis (page 4 of PDF) for their own writing before turning it in.



Students are evaluated via the homework paragraph. Basic grammar and mechanics will be evaluated, as well
as paragraph structure, the inclusion of a main idea and supports for the main idea.


Have the students present their writing as an address as Lincoln did. They could also memorize and present part of all of the Gettysburg Address. 

Authors Credits:
Charleston High School