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  • Lesson plan
  • Grades 11-12,
  • Grades 6-8,
  • Grades 9-10

CHILDREN IN THE WAKE: The Collateral Consequences of Modern Slavery on Childhood


The Rescue List opened my mind to modern [day] slavery by sharing real traumas and tears from real kids.

Aibis (age 12)

For many, the concept of slavery is something that is relegated to another time or was a system practiced by former generations who were inexplicably cruel; however, The Rescue List demands that we grow our collective consciousness to include the realities of modern-day slavery and the global implications in today’s world.

This lesson offers an opportunity for students to critically consider the human rights implications of chattel slavery and of modern slavery by juxtaposing the experiences of the protagonists in The Rescue List with experiences of Frederick Douglass as shared in his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Through a guided analysis of the childrens’ experiences with slavery and abolition in present-day Ghana and Douglass’s 18th century experiences of slavery and abolition, students will be asked to think critically about the lasting legacy and persistence of slavery in order to imagine actionable alternatives.

In this lesson, students conduct a Socratic seminar in preparation for creating a plan of action to bring attention to the plight of children, families, communities, and nations directly impacted by the legacy of slavery, both now and then. Tens of millions of people around the world, including children, are forced to work as slaves. What can be done to help them?

This plan of action is malleable and will depend upon grade level and specific areas of impact, need, and/or interest in the school communities using this curriculum. The structured conversation that grows out of the Socratic seminar will help students ground their questions and proposed solutions in their written plans of action.


This lesson was a collaboration created by Vivett Dukes and a group of 7th grade student volunteers in Jamaica, NY.


In this lesson, students will:

  • Learn about the real-life implications of modern slavery;
  • Assess and evaluate the events leading up to, and following, the rescue from slavery of the three protagonists on Ghana’s Lake Volta;
  • Identify, reflect upon, write about, and discuss their own biases/ignorance regarding both present-day and historic slavery;
  • Examine current human rights laws in order to identify flaws in, and create suggestions towards, improving the enactment of global human rights practices;.
  • Respond verbally and in writing to a variety of questions varying in complexity (ex. recall, basic reasoning, analysis, synthesis, and interpretation)
  • Exhibit and hone active listening skills by practicing question-based, class-wide discussion

Grade Levels: 7th grade – 12th grade

Subject Areas

Civics / Government

Earth Science / Ecology

English Language Arts


Global History / Global Studies

U.S. History

Social Studies


  • Film clips and equipment to project/screen the film clips
  • Notebook
  • Writing utensil
  • Scholastic UPFRONT magazine articles about chattel and modern-day slavery.
  • Student-generated, text-based open-ended questions (Depth of Knowledge – DOK – Level 1 through Level 4)
  • Various supplementary reading materials


Two to four 45-minute class periods (with optional homework in between)

About the authors

Vivett Dukes, M.A.

Vivett Dukes, M.A., is a state certified English language arts teacher, a teacher of English to new learners and a literacy specialist. She is a public speaker and advocate who writes a weekly education blog post for and publishes the writings of men, women and children impacted by the collateral consequences of mass incarceration on her personal blog,