TRUE TALES FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Ms. Dafna Soltes Stein works with students to give them an understanding of what life was like on Long Island during the time of slavery.
Ms. Dafna Soltes Stein works with students to give them an understanding of what life was like on Long Island during the time of slavery.
Students work through their scripts in one of the scenes.
Students work through their scripts in one of the scenes.
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Birchwood’s fourth grade students had the opportunity to participate in a unique learning experience using a collection of true stories from the Underground Railroad. Knowledge Alive is an arts integration project using storytelling, dramatic role-play, and creative writing to explore a time when slavery and its foes thrived on Long Island.

These are stories of real people, who traveled the Underground Railroad following the North Star to freedom. True grit, perseverance and courage were all hallmarks of those seeking freedom and the Abolitionists who sought to help them.  The creator of the program, Ms. Dafna Soltes Stein, visited Birchwood’s classrooms for lessons. After all of the students participated in the four-week classroom program, many of the fourth graders put on a play as a culminating exercise.

They imagine themselves into another time and place in American history and create “tableaux vivant” (frozen scenes come to life) with dynamic, emotional dialogue. Students think about the character’s feelings through words and movement, developing empathy for the suffering of others, appreciation for perseverance in the face of fear and danger, and admiration for kindness offered by one stranger to another.