Distance Learning Week Five: Early America

Hello fifth graders, and welcome to week five of distance learning! Week five! Can you believe it? What a crazy time.

This week, we will be looking at the early history of our country, and specifically, at our first presidents.

These men are included in our country’s list of “Founding Fathers,” the people who put in the hard work to create establish the United States in its early years. Each of these men, however, has a complicated legacy, and it’s important that we listen to different perspectives and different stories about the people we uphold as heroes. This week, we are going to look specifically at George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

You are going to respond to several different journal prompts this week, so I’ve created these Google Slides for you to write on. This is an optional way to record your journals; you may also write on paper if you would like to.


Monday: George Washington

Read the article about George Washington. Respond to the annotations and take the quiz. When you are finished, answer this question in your journal:

According to this article, what should we know and remember about George Washington? Is there any part of his story that might be missing? Explain.


Tuesday: Ona Judge

Yesterday we read about George Washington and pondered the question, what’s missing from this story? That’s exactly what we are going to look at today: the part of the story that’s missing!

The truth about George Washington is that he enslaved 250-350 people during his lifetime. There is one woman in particular who we are going to learn about today, and her name is Ona Judge. Ona Judge was enslaved by the Washingtons, and this courageous woman escaped from bondage. Join me at 1:00pm on Zoom for a read aloud to learn about this amazing woman with me. For a little bit of background information, watch this short video anytime before the read aloud.


Wednesday: The Presidents and Slavery

Yesterday we learned about George Washington and his history with slavery. Specifically, we talked about Ona Judge, who escaped. George Washington was not the only president who enslaved people, and Ona Judge was not the only person enslaved by presidents. In fact, twelve presidents enslaved people! Twelve!

Today, we are going to continue this investigation by reading this Newsela article.

Read this Newsela article about our nation’s early presidents. Respond to the annotations and take the quiz. When you’re done thoughtfully answer this question in your journal:

Do you think that it is important to learn about our early presidents’ history with slavery? Why or why not?


Thursday: How do we remember?

Each of our first presidents has a very famous home that people from all over the country come to visit. George Washington’s home is called Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s home is called Monticello, and James Madison’s home is called Mount Pelier. Each of these homes tells the stories of their famous residents differently. Mount Vernon has been criticized for not telling a complete picture of President Washington, leaving out the stories of the hundreds of  people enslaved on his plantation. The historians at Montpelier are doing something different. They are making sure that the stories of enslaved people are being highlighted as a central part of the plantation.

Read this article about Mount Vernon (the home of George Washington). Annotate and take the quiz.

Next, watch this video about Montpelier (the home of James Madison).

After reading the article end watching the video, think about the differences between the two places. In your journal, respond to this question:

How are these two different places approaching their histories of slavery differently? How do you think we should tell the history of slavery at presidents’ homes?


Friday: Abolitionist Projects!

Your abolitionist projects are due today! Check in with your homeroom teacher to see how you should turn in your project, if you haven’t yet.





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