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Slavery and the Making of AmericaPicture of slave women cultivating a village garden in Central Africa, Courtesy of the University of Virginia Library
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K-12 Learning
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Lesson Plans
Elementary Middle School High School
Select a grade range from the headings, above, for lesson plans that cover topics like notions of liberty, slave family relations, using statistics to understand slavery, and how individuals leave behind personal histories.

The below elementary school lesson plans allow students to learn about the experiences of run-away slaves, as well as a lesson on Thomas Jefferson's contradictory approach to slavery.
Elementary
Criminal or Hero, Runaway or Freeman

Grade Level: 5-6

Subject Area: Language Arts, Social Studies
Topic: Runaway slaves during the American Revolution.


In this lesson, students will explore the role played by perspective and point-of-view in an examination of American slavery. Students will look at the early history of widespread slavery in colonial America, and the ways in which some Northern slaves chose to deal with their situation amidst the chaos of the American Revolution. Utilizing the PBS series SLAVERY AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA, students will examine the life of Titus, a runaway slave from New Jersey who led a band of guerilla soldiers for the British, and explore why and how African Americans fought during the Revolution. Following their examination of Titus, students will utilize a variety of online interactive resources to examine the experiences of runaway slaves throughout the history of American slavery. As a culminating activity, students will creatively write journal entries from a variety of historical perspectives, including slave, runaway slave, slave owner, and British soldier.

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A Wolf By the Ear

Grade level: 5-7

Subject Area: History, Social Studies
Topic: Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence, and its relationship to slavery.


In this lesson, students will examine Thomas Jefferson's complex and contradictory relationship with slavery. Students will view segments of SLAVERY AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA, Episode 2, "Liberty in the Air," and examine a variety of online primary source documents to determine Jefferson's attitudes towards slavery, as well as how he chose to address them in his most famous document, the Declaration of Independence. As a culminating activity, students will have an opportunity to rewrite portions of the Declaration to a) more accurately reflect Jefferson's views, and b) more accurately reflect contemporary American society.

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