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TEACHER LETTERS
  |   Lynda Umfress  |   Maurice Chappell  |   Kim Brown  |


LETTER FROM DONNA VINCENT

Dear Teachers,

What a personalized perspective this video offers of the role our state played during this turbulent period! Kentucky students will never be able to look at the Ohio River or sing our state song without thinking of those slaves, their plight, and their perseverance.

I see this tape sparking interest and inquiry in classrooms across the commonwealth. Logs full of data from interviews, research, field trips, and personal reflections will be collected. Open response questions will be answered with convincing, knowledgeable support. Authentic audiences and purposes for writing will spring from this inquiry-fest: poems might be placed in classroom museums explaining how Harriet Beecher Stowe came to write Uncle Tom's Cabin. A play about the epic journey of Adam and Sarah Crosswhite could be performed at a special ceremony. A feature article may be published in the school paper persuading students to celebrate the differences in others and themselves.

Upon watching this video, teachers also may be inspired to write. I know I was! I'm always looking for support for my opinion that teaching students to write is important. I found several ideas in this video: Cassius Clay's newspaper, the songs containing hidden messages that slaves sang, the narratives written by former slaves, all reinforce the importance of words. One gentleman in the video says, "When an elder dies, an entire library burns." Word of mouth is one way to preserve folklore, but the written word endures time. I will use anecdotes and quotes from the video to elaborate my point that communication skills, be they reading, writing, speaking, or listening, are of utmost importance. Language usage is power. Slaveholders knew that. That is why slaves were denied the opportunity to learn to read and write.

Students will be able to use what they see and hear in this video in writing to learn activities, when they write to demonstrate learning, and when they use their communication skills to demonstrate what they know as a result of their inquiry. Students will learn so much about the Underground Railroad and slavery in Kentucky and about the paths we ALL travel. Hopefully our destination will be clarified as we think critically about the message in Kentucky's Underground Railroad-Passage to Freedom.

Thoughtfully,

Donna Vincent
Elementary Language Arts Consultant
Muhlenberg County Schools

  |   Lynda Umfress  |   Maurice Chappell  |   Kim Brown  |   Teacher Resources  |  


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Last Updated: Tuesday, 09-May-2006 10:39:20 EDT