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Read Kansas! Middle School - M-40 Who was John Brown?

This lesson uses the mural, Tragic Prelude, by John Steuart Curry, to give students an understanding of John Brown as a controversial figure.  The students will evaluate Tragic Prelude as a secondary source and then analyze primary sources that present conflicting perspectives on John Brown.  Based on their findings they will use the primary sources to create their own interpretation of John Brown.  The lesson is designed to be completed over two class periods.

Who is John Brown?Excerpt from "Parallels"













Letter from John Brown to his familyLetter from Salmon P. Chase













ProclamationNational Kansas Committee Resolution













To view a PDF of the front and back, click on the card.

Kansas History, Government and Social Studies Standards:

Standard #3: Societies are shaped by beliefs, ideas, and diversity

  • Benchmark 3.1: The student will recognize and evaluate significant beliefs, contributions, and ideas of the many diverse peoples and groups and their impact on individuals, communities, states, and nations.
  • Benchmark 3.2: The student will draw conclusions about significant beliefs, contributions, and ideas, analyzing the origins and context under which these competing ideals were reached and the multiple perspectives from which they come.

Kansas College and Career Ready Standards:

  • RH.6-8.6:  The student identifies aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
  • RI.7.8:  The student traces and evaluates the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.
  • SL.7.1(a-d): The student will engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • SL.7.2:  The student will analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.

Lesson Plan

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