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Lesson: Looking at Slavery in America


Author: Model Lesson
Subject Area: Social Studies
Grade Level: 6 - 8

Introduction

How did slave owners want slavery viewed? How did that vision compare with slaves' experiences? In this unit you will explore how different kinds of sources can influence how we think about history.

Goals

You will be able to explain how the portrayal of slavery differed between slaves and slave owners.

Directions

First, read the background information "What's in a painting?" Then click on the activities below to investigate different ways people have depicted slavery in America.


Background Builder Background

Title: What's in a painting? URL:
Directions: Artists don't paint a scene exactly as it is. They use light, color and perspective to shape how you will see and feel about a scene. As you look at a painting, consider: --What are your eyes immediately drawn to? --What seems to be most important? --If there are people, what detail can you describe about them? Then ask yourself, what did the artist want you to focus on, how did he or she want you to feel? What things were meant to be important? Why?


Title: Slave life in South Carolina URL: http://www.sciway.net/afam/slavery/gowrie.html
Directions: South Carolina's early economy depended on plantations run almost entirely on slave labor. This site discusses the conditions for slaves on Gowrie Plantation, a typical South Carolina plantation. Make sure to click on the links about "Poor Health" and "Poor Shelter" to find out more.



Vocabulary Builder Vocabulary


Message: As you read through this activity, look up any words that are new to you. Below are a few words that I think are important for your understanding of this activity. When you are in the activity, click on these words to get my definition.
Vocabulary Words:
coffle a line of people tied together by a rope or chain
redemption in this case redemption means, when someone is freed because someone has paid for them


Activity: Why was this picture painted?


URL URL 


Goals

You will be able to summarize a slave owner's view of slavery.

Directions

Use the QUESTION strategy to ask a question about how the artist shapes our impression of slavery. The question should be something you can answer based on evidence in the painting. Then, use the SUMMARY strategy to answer your question. Discuss, with reference to the painting, how the artist wanted us to view slavery. Why do YOU think this picture was painted?



Activity: What was life like for slaves?


URL URL 


Goals

Your goal is to summarize the living and working conditions of South Carolina plantation slaves.

Directions

First, look at the BACKGROUND INFORMATION on "Slave Life in South Carolina." Next, explore this webpage; look around a real slave cabin, see photographs of old slave huts, and read descriptions of life on the plantation. Use the VISUALIZATION strategy to describe what it might have been like to live as a plantation slave. Finally, click on "PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS" at the bottom of the page and read "A Greater Sin." Use the FEELING strategy to explain your personal response to the material on these pages.



Activity: How would you depict slavery?


URL URL 


Goals

Your goals are: 1. to discover how historians your age depict the past. 2. to create a PowerPoint that explains your understanding of slavery

Directions

Historians can never tell everything that happened in the past; they select what they think is important and create an argument. Page through at least one of the online exhibits here. Use the QUESTIONING strategy to consider what things were chosen for the exhibit and what things were left out. What do you think the overall argument is of the exhibit you chose? Download the PowerPoint template and save it to your computer. Do a final project showing how you would depict American Slavery.




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