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The Emancipator - Selections from the Original

School: Genesee Community Charter School

Grade(s): 4

Format(s): Newspaper

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Social Studies

Project Overview

This newspaper was created by 4th graders at the Genesee Community Charter School in Rochester, New York, as part of a Learning Expedition on slavery called, “The Courage to Care.” Students learned about slavery through in-depth study of locally related events, which combined fieldwork with the reading of related texts.

The Emancipator provided a way for students to write about historical events, produce original artwork, and showcase some of the historical artifacts they analyzed. 

The digitized selections from The Emancipator, shows students’ understanding of slavery, the abolitionist movement, and locally-related events. The format uniquely allows for not only information to be conveyed, but also students own personal feelings about slavery.

The layout of this newspaper was done by teachers and students but the production was done outside of the school. The work was printed on large-sized newsprint paper, folded in half to approximate the actual size and feel of a real newspaper.


Models of Excellence recognizes the challenges of teaching students history that includes sensitive topics such as enslaved people, genocide, and human rights abuses. Student projects that involve topics like this should be planned with care for the emotional safety of students, respect for the people and cultures studied, and should use reliable primary and secondary sources so that content is not built upon assumptions or stereotypes. Written simulations (e.g., fictional diaries or documents) should be closely informed by student research, fieldwork, and adult experts.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Format allows for historical information as well as student indignation about slavery past and present to come through
  • Good example of carefully done 4th grade writing – see entry about Sojourner Truth
  • An example of an engaging format, especially when printed on newsprint
  • Highlights student collaboration and creativity – working collaboratively on research, having individual tasks and creating a final product that is the work of all students
  • Effective blend of writing and artwork

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and information clearly.
  • I can choose evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection and research.
  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.
  • I can use conventions to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I use formal English when appropriate.
  • I can accurately use 4th grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas.
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