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Isaiah T. Montgomery, 1847-1924 (Part I & II) lesson plan

OVERVIEW

Isaiah T. Montgomery was a remarkable man who lived in a very difficult period of Mississippi history. He was lauded by some as a statesman, vilified by others as a traitor. In this lesson, students will examine the challenges of living as a black entrepreneur and politician in the trying times of Reconstruction and its aftermath.

CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3, and 4 

TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 4 (with modifications) through 12

MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

Mississippi History Now article, Isaiah T. Montgomery, 1847-1924, Part 1 and Part 2

Mississippi state map

OBJECTIVES

Students will:

identify elements that made the life of Isaiah T. Montgomery so remarkable for the time in which he lived;

realize how the personal beliefs that guided Montgomery were both a product of his upbringing and an attempt to live in the “real” world of racial inequality; and,

determine the most accurate way to characterize the life and deeds of Isaiah Montgomery.

OPENING THE LESSON

Place the following words on the board for students to define: accommodator; enigma; realist; traitor; statesman; pragmatist. Explain that these terms are sometimes associated with the subject of the lesson, Isaiah T. Montgomery. As students realize the meaning of the words, they should begin to question the apparent contradictions. Suggest that the lesson will provide information in helping them assess the most appropriate terms to describe Mr. Montgomery.

DEVELOPING THE LESSON

1.

To discover the personal history regarding Isaiah Montgomery, divide the class into four large groups and assign each group one of the sections in Part I, “The Life and Times of Isaiah Thornton Montgomery.” Subdivide each group so that there are actually two small groups working on the same assignment. Ask them to read their section and to write in their notebooks unusual or surprising events found in their section. Upon completion, have the two mini-groups compare their lists, and then come to consensus and understanding regarding the assignment.

2.

Each group will make an innovative presentation to the class. Suggestions: students can role-play the individuals in their section; they can present a puppet show; they can conduct a “news magazine” type interview. After each group’s presentation, teacher will lead a class discussion to assess understanding and will ask students to write a paragraph summarizing the information. (These paragraphs can be merged later for a biography of Montgomery, if teacher desires.)

3.

At this point, have students locate Mound Bayou on a map of Mississippi. Ask them to identify the county in which it is located and where it is in relation to where they live. For pictures of the town go to the following website (accessed January 2007) Visit the site.

4.

Ask students to carefully read Part II: “The Political Life of Isaiah T. Montgomery.” While reading, they should list in their notebooks ideas and beliefs which guided Mr. Montgomery’s life. Lead a large-group discussion on the ideas and beliefs and list them on an overhead for the entire class. It is important that students have a grasp of the meaning of these beliefs. As beliefs are listed, allow students to recall specific ways Mr. Montgomery’s actions reflected these beliefs.

5.

Students will now consider how Mr. Montgomery’s life was judged by others at the time of his death in the early 20th century. Have them prepare a visual to show this. Ask them to prepare a second visual to indicate any changes they would make as they assess his life and deeds in “hindsight,” from their 21st century perspectives.

CONCLUDING THE LESSON

1.

With a partner, ask students to consider having Mr. Montgomery reach adulthood in the 1960s. Have them brainstorm how his decisions in similar situations during the 1960s might have been different.

2.

Ask students to select one of the descriptors listed in the Lesson Opening ( or another one of their choosing) and to construct an acrostic, using words and terms to complete the acrostic that would support the descriptor they have chosen.

ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

1.

Group participation and presentation

2.

Participation in large-group discussion

3.

Visual completion

4.

Acrostic

EXTENDING THE LESSON

1.

Students may be interested in researching the history of Mound Bayou.

2.

Some may wish to prepare a written or visual biography of Mr. Montgomery for use in Black History month activities.

3.

A comparison of the lives of Isaiah T. Montgomery and Booker T. Washington would also be instructive for Black History month.

4.

Students may wish to hold an imaginary “blogging” session to respond to the following three characterizations of Mr. Montgomery

a.



Frederick Douglas said of him, “unlike Daniel, men like Isaiah T. Montgomery would make peace with the lion by allowing it to swallow them.”

b.

He put economics over politics.

c.





"By supporting a white supremacist initiative, he offered a way to end the ‘grave dangers’ of racial conflict … and ‘inaugurate an era of progress’.” from the Mississippi History Now article.

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