A teachers guide to Just as Free as I am
This section contains background information, Lexile measures and quiz answers for the booklet Just as Free as I am: A Tennessee Common Core Reader
. Questions about the booklet, including how to purchase it, are answered here
Please understand that 13 of these 16 chapters are primary source material.
The authors vary wildly in background, situation, time period and audience. It is safe to say that they were not trying to write things at a particular "grade level," which is why some of these chapters have high Lexile measures.
Regarding the quizzes
, we tried to come up with thoughtful questions, and some of them have multiple right answers. When, in our opinion, answers may vary, we have written the acronym AMV.
Chapter One: A great many fish left on the banks
Lexile measure: 1590 (wow!)
1. AMV. Many students will say that the length of the sentences make this passage difficult to read.
2. Bryan compared the sound of the earthquake to thunder. She compared the waves on the river to mountains. She said that the ground "vomited forth" sand and rocks.
4. The "Indian country" she refers to is now known as West Tennessee.
Chapter Two: Blount teen joins pagan cult
Lexile measure: 1130
1. AMV. Depending on what students know about Tennessee history, many of them may be surprised that Houston spent three years living amongst the Cherokee and that he failed at school.
2. Some of the details in this story are confirmable, but here are some that aren't: Neely writes that Elizabeth Houston had a "noisy" wagonload of kids. He writes that the crowds he spoke to were "standing-room only." He also says that the bullet in his shoulder was "Creek," when, in the chaos of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, it could have been fired by either side. All of these are wonderful details that make Neely's column funner to read. But all of them are speculative.
3. The Lone Star Republic is the name by which Texas was known when it was an independent country.
4. Neely points out that we don't know Houston would have made on standardized tests; of course, no one in those days took standardized tests. He says that the Knoxville Gazette "wasn't hiring" as if that is necessarily the kind of thing that Houston would have been interested in. He also refers to Houston was "another sad casualty of a single parent home," even though people didn't use that phrase back then.
Chapter Three: A trip for some powder
Lexile measure: 1170
1. Crockett is referring to a hard rain, or a flood.
2. know'd, knowed, stop'd, staid, he-bear, a-trying, nigh
3. AMV. Perhaps he is exaggerating the depth of the water, the width of the river, the depth of the snow, etc.
4. AMV. People probably imagined Tennessee to be a very wild place, filled with people who had a particular way of talking.
Chapter Four: The jolliest settlement ever I travelled through
Lexile measure: 840 (go figure)
1. AMV. Many students will no doubt say that the hardest part of this segment was the way the narrator talked and some of the words he used.
2. Instead of passing different houses, the raft was traveling in circles, passing the same house over and over again.
3. AMV. Astute students may point out that the men were drinking, and it probably wasn't water.
Chapter Five: A sample of insults
Lexile measure: 1250
2. AMV. Historians don't know what Brownlow means by these words; maybe your students can figure them out.
3. AMV. Some people (Andrew Johnson, for instance), later made amends with Brownlow. Some people hated Brownlow and never forgave him. Some attacked him violently. At least one person -- Congressman John Crozier -- withdrew from public life, in part because of Brownlow's attacks.
4. AMV. It is almost hard to come up with a person Brownlow didn't criticize or attack.
Chapter Six: I would die fighting
NOTE: The man pictured on page 18 is not the person whose interview is transcribed in chapter 6. There are no photographs of Robert Falls available on the Library of Congress web site, which means there may not be a photo of Robert Falls in existence.
Lexile measure: 710
1. AMV. Many students will say that it was hard to read because of the choppy manner in which Falls jumps from one train of thought to another (not unusual at all when elderly people are interviewed).
2. Robert Falls is apparently implying that "Master" Goforth could not take care of himself.
3. If it is true that "Master" Goforth was incapable of taking care of himself, then one might wonder how free he was.
Chapter Seven: The tender mercies of the advancing foe
Lexile measure: 820
1. AMV. He apparently learned that the Yankee spies looked like two young boys rather than the villians he'd imagined.
2. In this (and many other parts of his memoirs), Watkins lets us know that rations weren't enough to keep the Confederate soldiers alive. They ate everything they could find, catch, or kill during the course of the war.
3. "Roastingears" would appear to be a common term in the 19th century; perhaps this term was used because people typically roasted corn.
4. Tom Webb was no doubt buried in an unmarked grave. The point of this question is to make students recognize the fact that Civil War soldiers were buried in unmarked graves all over the South. They could be buried under highways, buildings, etc. for all we know.
Chapter Eight: Floating on the driftwood
Lexile measure: 1140
1. He means that the bully surrendered, quit, and/or ran away.
2. AMV. Schools in post-Civil War Memphis were no doubt more strict than public schools today, and teachers were obviously allowed to whip students then, which they aren't allowed to do now. However, there were fights on the playground then, and fights now.
3. One would hope not! Even a good swimmer could easily drown in the Mississippi.
Chapter Nine: The Wildman of Chilhowee
Lexile measure: 1130
1. AMV. Based on the way this column was written, information about Mason Evans appears to have been spread second-hand.
2. AMV. Perhaps the sheriff let Mason Evans escape.
3. AMV. Students may speculate on many things, including the idea that the owner of the hotel knew how the fire occurred, but didn't want the real story to get out, so he implied that Mason Evans was a suspect.
Chapter Ten: Not going to put the children anywere
Lexile measure: 1160
1. One might describe Ida Wells as confident, stubborn, resourceful, determined, and many other things.
2. Had Ida lost her temper, the men might have concluded that she wasn't grown up enough to take care of her brothers and sisters.
3. The rear coach appears to have been preferable because it was less noisy and less smoky than the front coach.
NOTE: This is an interesting point, because a century later, Rosa Parks was arrested for trying to sit in the FRONT of the bus.
Chapter 11: Marmaduke Morton and the job interview
Lexile measure: 940
1. AMV. Among the things that are different about the office described in this story: the presence of a roll-top desk in a workplace, a tolerance for smoking in the office, the use of a common drinking cup and the presence of a "telegraph" editor.
2. Apparently, people in turn-of-the-century Nashville didn't think twice about drinking from the same cup.
3. The great news is that he got the job.
4. He learned later about how Marmaduke Morton smoked all the time, for instance. He learned later that Morton played poker. He learned later that Morton was from Russellville, Kentucky. Brownlow also later learned the names of the people who were in the room, something he wouldn't have picked up until later.
Chapter 12: The one you came to see
Lexile measure: 1000
1. AMV. The homes Wharton visited were largely one-room cabins with no running water, heated only by a fireplace. Practically no students in 21st century Tennessee will have households such as that.
2. By "final relief," Wharton means death.
Chapter 13: Suffrage amendment adopted by House
Lexile measure: 1250 (Make note of the fact that a SIMPLE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE from 1920 has a Lexile measure so high!)
1. Hopefully some students have enough math acumen to recognize that 36 is not 3/4 of 50. Thirty-six is, however, 3/4 of 48. In 1920, there were only 48 states.
2. The most common answer to this question is that Harry Burn is the only person who reportedly changed his vote. However, a more thoughtful answer might be that the reporter who wrote the story simply chose to focus on Harry Burn, instead of any of the other 49 House members who voted yes.
3. suffrage, sustained, despondent, enfranchised, tardy, and others
Chapter 14: The seeing eye
Lexile measure: 1020
1. He let the dog lead him completely, even though he knew that a mistake by the dog would cost him his life.
2. The phrase "white way" was used frequently in the early days of electricity. It refers to streets that had plenty of streetlights and neon signs.
3. Based on his autobiography, Morris Frank did not appear to be the kind of person who reacted angrily to things.
Chapter 15: The person defines the place
Lexile measure: 810
Because of space constraints, this chapter did not contain a quiz. This chapter could, however, be a springboard for a discussion on the Civil Rights Movement. Many students might be surprised to learn how Lafayette and other activists reacted to things that they were told to do by jailers.
Chapter 16: Elvis Presley gets his badge
Lexile measure: 970
1. The Secret Service does not let anyone with a gun approach the president, for obvious reasons.
2. AMV. Some authors have described this incident as a prank. Presley's ex wife said that she believed he wanted a badge because he thought it would give him some immunity in case he ever got caught with drugs. However, some people believe Presley was very sincere when he talked to Nixon that day.
3. They are the most requested because his estate does not allow people to use most images of Elvis Presley without payment. However, the photographs of Presley with Nixon were taken by the White House photographer, so they are clearly owned by the Library of Congress. That's why these images appear in books and T-shirts so often.