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               Project Plan of "North American Slavery Through the Eyes of the Enslaved"  by Rob Curry
Name of Project: North American Slavery Through the Eyes of the Enslaved - Modern Students Assume the Roles of Slaves
Unit Author: Rob Curry  8th Grade teacher, Piedmont Middle School, San Jose, CA.

Rationale: Students will develop a greater empathy for the ordeals of African and African American slaves and see the roots of racism, which may still exist in their own lives today.

Enduring Understanding:  Students will better understand the connection between the past and the present and relate it to their own attitudes and actions, applied here to racism.

Major Goal(s) and Associated Standards.

·    Students will better appreciate the issues of human bondage. 
·    Students will work collaboratively with fellow members of their groups and with students in other classes and with experts they communicate with. 
·    Students will synthesize the information they find doing research and will create presentations that communicate their learning. 
·    Students will summarize their learning in written compositions. 
·    Students will be encouraged to express their feelings using music, poetry and art. 
California History/Social Studies Content Standards

8.7     Students analyze the divergent paths of the American people in the South from
1800 to the mid-1800s and the challenges they faced.
1.  Describe the development of the agrarian economy in the South, identify the locations
of the cotton-producing states, and discuss the significance of cotton and the cotton gin.
2.  Trace the origins and development of slavery; its effects on black Americans and on
the region’s political, social, religious, economic, and cultural development; and
identify the strategies that were tried to both overturn and preserve it (e.g., through
the writings and historical documents on Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey).
3.  Examine the characteristics of white Southern society and how the physical environ­ment influenced events and conditions prior to the Civil War.
4.  Compare the lives of and opportunities for free blacks in the North with those of free blacks in the South.

8.11     Students analyze the character and lasting consequences of Reconstruction.
1.  List the original aims of Reconstruction and describe its effects on the political and social structures of different regions.
2.  Identify the push-pull factors in the movement of former slaves to the cities in the North and to the West and their differing experiences in those regions (e.g., the experi­ences of Buffalo Soldiers).
3.  Understand the effects of the Freedmen’s Bureau and the restrictions placed on the rights and opportunities of freedmen, including racial segregation and “Jim Crow” laws.
4.  Trace the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and describe the Klan’s effects.
5.  Understand the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution and analyze their connection to Reconstruction.

California History/Social Studies Content Standards 5.4.6 
Students will learn about the introduction of slavery into America, the responses of slave families to their condition, the ongoing struggle between proponents and opponents of slavery, and the gradual institutionalization of slavery in the South 

California Content Standards 5.6.7
 Students will learn how the ideals of the Declaration of Independence changed the way people viewed slavery 

Language Arts>Writing>Research and Technology California Content Standards

1.3 Use organizational features of printed text (e.g., citations, end notes, bibliographic references) to locate relevant information.
1.4 Create simple documents by using electronic media and employing organizational features (e.g., passwords, entry and pull-down menus, word searches, the thesaurus, spell checks). 
1.5 Use a thesaurus to identify alternative word choices and meanings. 

Language Arts>Writing California Content Standards
2.0 Using the writing strategies of grade five outlined in Writing Standard 1.0, students: 
2.1 Write narratives: 
         a. Establish a plot, point of view, setting, and conflict. 
         b. Show, rather than tell, the events of the story

Essential Questions
  • What are some historical roots of racism in our nation today?
  • How does African-American culture, economic system, music and art reflect the slavery experience?
  • What are the most important elements of a slave narrative?
  • Who were the slaves and former slaves whose narratives were studied?
  • How does the historical period effect the experiences related in the narratives?
  • What are primary sources and documents?
  • How are primary documents useful in studying the past?
  • In what ways can historical fact be presented?
  • How can historical primary sources be used to develop historical fiction?
  • Whar can we learn from the past that can be useful?

    • Brainstorm Using K-W-L Charts ~ We will create a K-W-L chart as the class discusses what they know about slavery and racism (Baseline)
    • Students will keep project journals to keep track of their work.  (Formative)
    • Student Products: (Formative & Summative)
                        Power Point Group Projects
                        Oral Presentations 
                        Written Summative Composition
    • Rubrics used for self, peer and teacher assessments for each main section of the project.  Rubrics included are for Research, Power Point Story Map, Power Point, and Summative Composition.
    • Student ePortfolios (Formative & Summative)
    • Unit Test as created by the teacher (Summative)

    Additional Project Elements:
    • Students may use the acquired knowledge as they do a web-based project based learning unit, Assumed Colonial Identities.  also created by Rob Curry.

    Real World Connection
    Students, even the non-white and non-African-American students which comprise most of the student population of our school, deal with racism continually in their very diverse community.  By doing this activity, they will be challenged to examine their attitudes and reaction to the issues of racism.

    Technology Integration

    Technology will be integrated throughout this project.  Students will obtain much of their resources from the Internet including those which are woven into or linked from the project website.  Students will develop presentations using Power Point which will be displayed, some on the Internet.  The students will post their product and self-assessment on their e-portfolios.

    Target Population and Number of Participants
    This project will be done with about 30 5th grade students.
    Estimated Timeline:
    This is an extended project, running through the first 6 months of the school year.

    August/September:  Starting with the August 1963 "March on Washington" and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have A Dream Speech, students will be introduced to background information on the topic of racism and they will be challenged to learn the causes of the conditions that led up to the Civil Rights movement.  Students will be given some background information in viewing the PBS video, Africans in America, and doing many of the lesson plans developed for the program.  Also, during the Back-to-School night, I will explain the project to the student families and show a sample product.

    October/November: As we study the Age of Exploration and the establishment of European colonies in the New World, we will emphasize the start of the slave trade. 
    Students will be placed into heterogeneous groups and they will choose a slave to study and do a presentation on from the provided resources for each.  Students will then research the primary documents and sources to develop a profile of the historical character.

    December/January: Students will either (1)further develop the non-fiction presentation for their slave character or (2)create an embellished historical fiction narrative for the character based on the historical record (primary sources). They will finish the storyboard by mid-December.  In January, they will create and revise (as needed) the Power Point Presentation.

    February: The finished Power Point Presentations will be done with an oral report to the students and perhaps to the larger school community.  Students will also upload the product to their e-Portfolios and they will each write a composition on what they learned by doing this project.


    This project requires students to work on a collaborative team of 3-5 students.
    I envision being able to network with teachers from other schools who will also do this project and provide students with the opportunity to collaborate with other students at those other schools through email.

    Accessability for All Learners

    Lessons will include a variety of modalities to address the needs of all students.   Images and drawings will include visual information.  Journals will include written notes as students work through this project.  Music and the recorded narrations of actual former slaves will address the needs of verbal learners. Power Point Presentations will incorporate many learning elements. 

    The project can easily be adapted to meet special needs students. 

    For English Language Learners in our school community, I have provided some tools to help bridge the language gap between school and student families.  The main project page has links translating the project into Spanish and Chinese and it has online dictionaries for English-Vietnamese and English-Tagolog.

    Estimated Budget

    In order to get 4 classroom computers with the needed software (Microsoft Office 2000 or XP), MovieWorks and Adobe Flash, the budget needed would be $6,000.

    ·    Proposed method of getting funding for this project (if needed) I will look into funding sources, such as Smart Valley, district funding, grants, etc. If no funds are available. I will do the project in a modified form, using the 25 minute lab time the students have every other week or the limited number of antique classroom computers.

    Biographical Information

        Now starting his fifth year as a fifth grade teacher at Vinci Park and his 22nd anniversary as a teacher, Rob Curry works hard to cover all the required state standards in as exciting ways as possible. He is known for all the field trips his class goes on, all of which are directly related to the curriculum. Likewise, he uses the internet and video extensively to help students do research and present their work. 
        He serves on the Berryessa District Curriculum Council and he was recently elected to the post of Elementary Representative in the teachers' union. He is on the district committee which plans Professional Development and he has presented workshops on integrating technology into the curriculum.
       In developing the Social Studies units, Rob takes seminars or other Professional Development programs.  In 2001, he took part in the Colonial Williamsburg Summer Teacher Institute and in 2003, he won a fellowship to study at a Gilder-Lehman Foundation for American History seminar at UMD at College Park, Maryland on the topic, North American Slavery in Comparative Perspective.
       Mr. Curry loves to travel, especially to historical locations in Europe, the United States and to Yosemite National Park.  Of Mr. Curry and his four brothers, three of them are teachers. Mr. Curry and his wife are part of the community he teaches in and they live in the Berryessa neighborhood of San Jose, California. 


    Student Directions
    Students will use the directions contained on the project web site.

    ·    The Introduction orients students and captures their interest. 
    ·    The Task describes the activity's end product. 
    ·    The Process explains strategies students should use to complete the task. 
    ·    The Resources are the Web sites students will use to complete the task. 
    ·    The Evaluation measures the results of the activity. 
    ·    The Conclusion sums up the activity and encourages students to reflect on its process and results. 

    1©Copyright 2003 by rdcurry