Teaching the Underground Railroad



Welcome to Teaching the Underground Railroad! This is a self-paced course designed for K-12 teachers about how to teach the Underground Railroad providing accurate accounts of the events related to the Underground Railroad.


The course is divided into four major topics; each one introduces historical resources that can be used in learning and teaching. Each topic will follow a similar structure:


  • Introduction - provides an overview of the topic and the context for learning
  • Content Readings/Resources - includes presentations, pdfs, videos, and external websites
  • Activities/Assessments - practice elements and self-assessments will help you gauge your understanding of the material
  • Summary - reviews what was learned and prepares you for the next topic


"I have never had a strong outlook on history in the classroom until I completed this unit for this course...


I have a new perspective on the ideas of teaching this concept in the classroom"


Student Reflection, Summer 2013





Instructional Goals


Teachers will be able to:

  • understand the significance of the Underground Railroad (UGRR) to American history,
  • develop high quality multicultural lessons that give an accurate account of the events related to the URR,
  • use historical resources in teaching,
  • complete the process of submitting a historical site to the National Registry of Historical Sites,
  • teach challenging topics to students of various age groups,
  • integrate technology in teaching about the URR
  • provide opportunities for students to become producers of technology


Essential Questions


  1. What is the significance of the UGRR to American history?
  2. How can I develop high quality lessons that give an accurate account of the events related to the Underground Railroad using historical resources?
  3. How do I teach challenging topics to students?



Course Description


Culturally competent educators understand that we do not all perceive and/or experience reality in the same fashion.  The culturally competent educator:

  • recognizes and accepts cultural differences,
  • knows how to increase cultural knowledge and understanding,
  • is skilled at searching for options in the communication process, and
  • is skilled in creating culturally sensitive environments. 


The purpose of this course is to further develop participants’ understanding of the Underground Railroad and Abolitionist Movement and the need to teach using multicultural lessons and instructional strategies.


Course Syllabus


A  more in-depth hybrid course is offered through Eastern Michigan University that incorporates virtual and on-campus sessions.  You will also visit the Charles H. Wright African American History Museum and local historical sites. The hybrid course is offered during summer semesters.


Getting Started


The course begins with a discussion and an activity leading to a greater understanding of the importance of the Underground Railroad and its impact on the US today. The next topic focuses on how to develop high quality lessons that provide multiple perspectives of historical events.  The following topic explores how to discuss challenging topics, which is an important one as is especially difficult for teachers. The integration of technology is the final topic discovering how to use technology for teaching as well as providing  opportunities for students to learn and become producers with technology.



Use the the navigation menu at the top or below to access each topic. You should begin with the Importance topic.


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