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North American Slavery Through the Eyes of the Enslaved

A Project Based Learning Unit designed  for grades 5-8


  • Overview
  • Background Knowledge
  • Goals

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This unit was created by
Robert Curry
Piedmont Middle School
Berryessa Union School District
San Jose, CA



In the study of American history, there can be little doubt to the moral evil that was slavery.  In this project, students will endeavor to study the lives of slaves and slaveholders from primary documents where available and other resources and write a fictionalized account as a first person narrative.

Student groups will choose subjects from a specific time period and tell the fictionalized account from both perspectives.  To present their stories, students will create Power Point Presentations.

Goals of this Unit
  • 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 synthesise the information they find doing research and will create presentations that communicate their learning.
  • Students will summarize their learning in written compositions.
  • Students will express their feelings using music, poetry and art.

Background Knowledge 
ainaPrior to starting this project, students will  study the institution of slavery in the Americas.     The class will view segments of videos, both before and during the project.  Among the videos will be PBS's  Africans in America , Alex Haley's  Roots  and Colonial Williamsburg's The Runaway.
    The web designer used materials and acquired learning he gained by participating in the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History seminar, North American Slavery in Comparative Perspective.  Many of the components of this unit are as a result of that seminar.