Introduction for Teachers

This site offers a flexible curriculum for teaching all or portions of Uncle Tom's Cabin in a high school literature or American history class. The lesson plans offered here integrate an exploration of the novel's central issues with skills-based activities in close reading, critical and creative writing, research, and oral presentation. While parts of the site may be used by classes without internet access, several of the activities offer ways to integrate the Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture site, as well as other helpful web materials, into a high school curriculum.

Special Features of the Site

  • Progression of Selected Chapters
    Ranging in length from 400 to 600 pages depending on the publisher's format, Uncle Tom's Cabin is too long for most high school classes. The Progression of Selected Chapters suggests several options for assigning excerpts of the novel. Links in this section allow teachers to move directly to the online novel to print their selections.

  • Lesson Plans
    Teachers may choose to use all or only a portion of the activities suggested in the three units here, depending on the length of time allotted. Each unit consists of three lessons. Most lessons are designed to last only a day or two. While the unit names suggest a sequence, the lessons may also be rearranged or used singly.

    Unit 1: Starting Out
    The three lessons in this unit are designed to introduce students to Uncle Tom's Cabin. Lesson 1, "America in the 1850s," uses primary documents to provide students with important background about Stowe's historical moment. Lessons 2 and 3 suggest activities designed to run throughout a class's reading of the novel.

    Unit 2: Reading the novel
    The three lessons in this unit focus on the novel's central themes: anti-slavery, women readers and characters, and religion. Each theme focuses on a single chapter in the novel -- with the exception of the lesson on religion, which focuses on two of the novel's final chapters.

    Unit 3: Finishing the novel
    This unit focuses on readers' reactions to Uncle Tom's Cabin and incorporates materials from the Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture website. The lessons in this unit examine reviews by Stowe's northern and southern contemporaries, visions of a post-slavery America, and the transformation of Uncle Tom's Cabin into popular culture.

  • Student Site
    Most lessons on this site offer printable worksheets, primary documents, and other lesson- specific materials. The materials may be accessed and printed directly from the lessons in this Teacher's Guide, or teachers may opt to send students directly to the companion site for students. The student site offers: printable materials students will need for each lesson, brief overviews of each lesson, resources for additional research, and links to the novel online.

  • Resources
    This section suggests books, essays, websites, and teaching materials for further study of Uncle Tom's Cabin and its historical moment. Also included here are links to websites that provide plot summaries of the novel's chapters, which might be helpful supplements for classes not reading the novel in its entirety.

  • Created by Ellen Greer Harris
    MA Program in American Studies
    University of Virginia
    August, 2002