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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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials

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?
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Vocabulary

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Text-based

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

Idiom/Cultural Reference

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

Root/Affix

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

To see all the vocabulary for this course, view our 4th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

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

23

  • Heart and Soul — Chapter 11

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.8

Explain how Jim Crow was dying.

25

  • Heart and Soul — Epilogue

    RI.4.8

Explain the significance of the final quote in Heart and Soul.

29

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Core Standards

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RI.4.3

RI.4.5

RI.4.6

RI.4.7

RI.4.8

RI.4.9

RL.4.3

SL.4.1

SL.4.4

SL.4.5

W.4.1

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

Spiral 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

W.4.10

W.4.4

W.4.5

W.4.6