ALEX Lesson Plan

School is in Session!

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Lesa Roberts
Organization:Whitesburg Christian Academy
The event this resource created for:Alabama Department of Archives and History
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35084


School is in Session!


In this lesson, students will be able to describe cultural aspects of early nineteenth century townspeople by reading a newspaper article describing the opening of a new school. Students will also be able to discuss, infer, and write from a variety of perspectives when explaining the roles of various people mentioned in the article.

This lesson was created in partnership with the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
10 ) Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. [RI.4.1]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.4.10- Answer who, what, when, and where questions to demonstrate understanding of an informational text.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
12 ) Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text. [RI.4.3]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.4.12- Identify events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in an informational text.

Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 4
Alabama Studies
6 ) Describe cultural, economic, and political aspects of the lifestyles of early nineteenth-century farmers, plantation owners, slaves, and townspeople.

Examples: cultural—housing, education, religion, recreation

economic—transportation, means of support

political—inequity of legal codes

•  Describing major areas of agricultural production in Alabama, including the Black Belt and fertile river valleys

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.4.6- Identify information about early nineteenth- century farmers, plantation owners, slaves, and townspeople.

Local/National Standards:

National History Standards

Standard 2A: The student understands the history of his or her local community.

  • Describe local community life long ago, including jobs, schooling, transportation, communication, religious observances, and recreation.
  • Identify historical figures in the local community and explain their contributions and significance.

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will

  • Describe the educational opportunities available to early nineteenth-century townspeople as described in an 1819 newspaper article.
  • Produce clear and coherent writing to describe 3 different perspectives described in an 1819 newspaper article.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will highlight information from a primary document that reflects a variety of perspectives about a new school.

Students will use their own background knowledge about schools to infer details about early Alabama education.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Each student will require:

  • a copy of SSC3 "The Way I See It" (see attachment)
  • a copy of A School primary document (see page 4 of newspaper)
  • a copy of A School Transcript and Vocabulary (see attachment)
  • highlighter
  • pencil
  • colored pencils

Technology Resources Needed:

Document camera, if available

Laptops to view documents and complete graphic organizer, if available


Students should be familiar with the educational opportunities available to children in the early-nineteenth century. For example, many rural students, whose families farmed the land, were not able to attend formal schools. Children did not have access to town schools and were often needed to assist on the farm.

Girls and boys were generally not given the same opportunities for learning. Girls often concentrated on more "womanly" tasks like sewing and other household needs. Boys often were allowed to stay in school longer. Very few minorities were able to attend desegregated schools. The families had to pay for the schooling; tutors were often paid if schools were not available.

Students should be familiar with reading primary documents and understand the language. They should be able to highlight specific details within a newspaper article.

For more information on nineteenth century education in Alabama, see the Encyclopedia of Alabama article.

For additional information about early Alabama education and Huntsville, Alabama, see Alabama Education attachment.



  • Review the educational opportunities available to children in the early 1800s.
  • Review terms such as rural and urban, tutor, tuition, and board.


  • Distribute copy of A School newspaper article and transcript to students.
  • Display newspaper article under document camera, if available.
  • Read article aloud and discuss well.
  • Explain terms as needed.
  • Allow students to re-read the article and highlight the different people mentioned in the article.

Allow students to use the "Think, Pair, Share" strategy while discussing the following points: 

  • Discuss how the Leverts might be related and their various roles in the school.
  • Discuss the subjects that would be taught and by whom.
  • Discuss why the boys and girls would have been separated.
  • Discuss why students would have been required to provide their own bedding and candles.
  • Discuss how the Leverts would have had different perspectives of the school than that of the students.
  • Introduce or review The Way I See It graphic organizer.
  • Allow students to re-read the article silently and select 3 of the people mentioned in the article: Mr. Levert, Miss Levert, Mrs. Levert, a male student, or female student.
  • Allow time for students to complete the talk bubble for the selected individuals (Be sure the students label each one).
  • If time allows, ask students to illustrate each character appropriately.


  • Allow students to share a talk bubble after giving a few minutes to begin working. This may spark some ideas for those that are struggling.
  • After most students have finished, allow students time to share talk bubbles.

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Assessment Strategies


  • Students should highlight passages that refer to Mr. Levert, Miss Levert, Mrs. Levert, and the male and female students. Some students may also select to give a parent's perspective and include inferences supported by the text.
  • Students should participate in partner and whole group discussions.


  • Students should include information that is explicitly detailed in the article as well as appropriate inferences when completing "The Way I See It" graphic organizer.


Students may read from the Alabama Republican to learn more about the events occurring in January, 1819 in Huntsville, Alabama.

Students may read another article from the same newspaper and complete the graphic organizer describing different perspectives.



Additional vocabulary words may pre-taught, if needed.

Students may be paired with stronger readers.

Provide examples of completed graphic organizers to encourage complete talk bubbles and illustrations.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.