By Josh Despain


Table of Contents







1.      Overview and Rational


2.      Teacher Background Information


3.      Unit Planning Chart


4.      Organization and Subject Matter Overview


5.      Room Setup


6.      Goals and Objectives


7.      Lesson Plans


8.      Assessment


9.      Appendix








Overview and Rational






††††††††††† This unit will be based on slavery and I have designed it for the use in a 5th grade classroom.Slavery is one of the cruelest human-to-human practices that have happened in history.Students need to understand why slavery was able to exist for so many years and why such a cruel and heinous act was so important to civilization.In order to achieve this knowledge I will need to teach the children about how slavery has been woven into American societies as well as cultures throughout the world.As well as teaching about slavery in general I will teach about who the slaves were.How did a person become a slave?To increase this understanding I believe it will be necessary to teach about the race, religion, ethnicity and nationality of slaves.In order for students to fully understand why slavery was so wrong they must become informed what slave life was like.Students must also gain an interest in individual slaves and study personal accounts of slaves.This interest will help students gain a more specific knowledge of just how much a slave suffered.Students will also participate in activities related to slavery that will give the students a small glimpse of how it must have felt to be enslaved.

†††††††† More important that learning about how slavery came about and what specifically happened to slaves is learning about how slavery ended.I believe that it is equally important for the students to understand how much of an impact slavery has had on our society and how slavery is still effecting the way that people interact with each other and the prejudices that are held by many people.††††

I believe that students need to understand the issue of slavery that was so prevalent in our country over 200 years ago.Students need to understand that slavery had a big part in United States history.They need to understand that this country made a lot of its beginnings by the work of slaves.The crops that were sold to other countries were harvested and produced by slave work.My goal in teaching this is to help my students gain an understanding of the problems that are seem in this country because of race.†† I believe that slavery needs to be taught because students need to know how and why minorities were treated at the beginning of this country.They need to understand and gain knowledge of why everyone needs to be treated equally.By students understanding slavery they will be able to view the world around them with a view that everyone has the right to freedom and basic human rights.

The goals and objectives for what I have stated above are as follows:

         Trace the development of social and political movements

         Examine social and political movements; e.g., suffrage, prohibition, civil rights.

         Trace the development of social and political movements

         Examine social and political movements; e.g., suffrage, prohibition, civil rights.

         Examine reasons for the Civil War.

         Explore the impact of the Civil War on the development of the United States.

         Trace the development of social and political movements

        Examine social and political movements; e.g., suffrage, prohibition, civil rights.


Teacher Background Information







Slavery is the forcing of work on another without pay.By 1860 the United States had over four million slaves.Most of these slaves worked on plantations in the South.The first African slaves landed in Jamestown, Virginia, the first English colony, in 1619.Slavery existed in all of the 13 colonies but it was a major benefit to the economic well being to the South colonies.Most of the leaders of America opposed slavery.After the American Revolution the states north of the Mason-Dixon line eventually freed their slaves.In 1793 Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin.This invention made the process of separating the seeds from the cotton easier and faster.Because of this invention the South, where most of the cotton was grown, needed a way to harvest more and more cotton faster and cheaper. Because of this slavery became more and more counted upon.

Being a slave meant that you were someone elseís property.They bought you and sold you whenever they wanted.This also meant that they had the right to tread you however they wanted.Some slaves were beaten and starved when they disobeyed orders.Most slaves were not mistreated because slaves were expensive and if they harmed their slaves so they couldnít work then they were losing money and time.Slavery broke families apart.Husbands were sold to one owner and their wife could be sold to someone else.Children were separated from their parents.Slaves constituted 12 percent of the population in the United States.Slave owners usually owned less than 50 slaves.Only 8,000 owners owned more than 50 slaves.

Slaves were bought and sold.A man could be sold for up to $1,800 if they were strong and healthy.A woman could be sold for up to $1,400.Children were sold at varying prices.

Slaves were used mainly to harvest cash crops.These are crops that grew abundantly in the region.Some of these crops were tobacco, cotton, sugar, corn, rice, indigo and wheat.

Slaves tried to escape from their owners.Because of this many slave owners and congress came up with the Fugitive Slave Act.This act stated that if a slave escaped from the owner the owner had the right to chase after the slave even into the north free states.If the slave was found they were taken back to the owner.If a white person was found helping the slave they could face a fine and prison time.

Abolitionists are people who opposed slavery.They fought for laws to help free all slaves.Usually abolitionists were white men but there were also free slaves and women who fought for slave rights.

Slaves were brought here from Africa.They usually were traded by ship merchants to owners for crops to trade in Europe or for molasses in the West Indies.There are many routes that ships made depending on what cargo they had and who they were going to trade with.

The Underground Railroad was a network of people throughout the north who helped move the slaves from the south to Canada where they would be free.The network would house, clothe and feed the runaway slaves.The slaves usually had to move from house to house during the night because there were slave hunters all over searching for runaway slaves.

Slavery still exists today.There are many places all over the world where people are being forced to work for no personal gain.Many places in Africa have slaves to harvest cocoa beans.Resources found at the end of unit.



Unit Planning Chart








Teacher Resources

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Roots (movie)

Slave life information

Modern day slavery

Student Reading/Literature

Follow the drinking gourd

Life in Civil War times

Under the Quilt of Night

Captive Passengers: The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Making of the Americas


Oral Language

Day in the life of a slave

Part of the Emancipation Proclamation

Social Studies

Underground Railroad

Day in the life of a slave

How Slavery began

Modern day Slavery

Civil War

Reasons for slavery



Draw a map of the Underground Railroad

Draw a picture of a slave

Draw the living conditions of a slave

Draw the ship that slaves came on


Sing Slave Songs

Listen to Slave Songs


How cotton and tobacco is grown

How cotton and tobacco is harvested

Weather where cotton and tobacco are grown


Physical Education/Movement/Health

Learn Dances of the Slaves

What the slaves were fed

Physical work of slaves


Distance of the Underground Railroad

Costs of a slave

How much slaves could have made

How much crop slaves picked over a lifetime

Written Language

Report on a specific slave

Describe the underground railroad

Emancipation Proclamation



Look up information for a specific slave

Find information on the Underground Railroad

Find information of causes of the Civil War

Field Trips/Guests

Visit a Museum

Guest Speaker on slavery


Accommodations for Learners

Larger pictures

Audio tape of lectures

More oral assignments rather than written




Test on subject

Final project that describes an aspect of what they have learned


Questionnaire during unit

Culminating Activity

Drama or play written and performed by students

Video about slavery


Social Skills


Getting along with everyone

Understanding Cultures

Treating everyone fairly

Outcomes/Unit Goals

         Demonstrate an understanding that people in different times and places vies the world differently.II e

         Use knowledge of facts and concepts drawn from history to inform decision-making about action-taking on public issues.II f

         Identify and describe examples of tensions between an individualís beliefs and government policies and laws.V e

Investigate concerns, issues standards, and conflicts related to universal human rights

          Trace the development of social and political movements

  • Examine social and political movements; e.g., suffrage, prohibition, civil rights.



Organization and
 Subject Matter 















Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4


Beginnings of Slavery

Slaves and their lives

Involvement in Civil War

Abolishment of Slavery and Modern day Slavery

NCSS Standard

         Demonstrate an understanding that people in different times and places vies the world differently.II e

         Use knowledge of facts and concepts drawn from history to inform decision-making about action-taking on public issues.II f

         Identify and describe examples of tensions between an individualís beliefs and government policies and laws.V e

         Investigate concerns, issues standards, and conflicts related to universal human rights.IX f

Utah Objectives


          Trace the development of social and political movements

  • Examine social and political movements; e.g., suffrage, prohibition, civil rights.


  • Trace the development of social and political movements
  • Examine social and political movements; e.g., suffrage, prohibition, civil rights.


  • Examine reasons for the Civil War.
  • Explore the impact of the Civil War on the development of the United States.
  • Trace the development of social and political movements
  • Examine social and political movements; e.g., suffrage, prohibition, civil rights.


Learning Activities



K-W-L about slavery

Talk about why we had slavery

Talk about how it got started

K-W-L about salves and their lives

Find out what slaves they have heard of

Talk about how they were treated, what they did etc.

K-W-L about the Civil War

Talk about reasons for the war

Talk about the Emancipation Proclamation.

What did it do?

How was it accepted



How they are harvested

Who harvests them

The life of a slave.How did they live?How were they treated

Lesson Plan 3

Did the E P work?

Why or why not

How did people feel


Lesson plan 2

Lesson Plan 4

Lesson Plan 3

13 and 14 amendments

What did they do?


Costs of slaves

What slaves are supposed to do

Families are broken up

Reports on a slave or abolitionist connected to the Underground Railroad

Computer lab work

Talk about the Civil War and battles.The importance of main battles

Lesson plan 1


Guest speaker on slavery

African Culture


Reports on a slave or abolitionist connected to the Underground Railroad

Computer lab work

Gettysburg and the turning of the war toward the North winning.

What can we do about slavery

What have we learned about slavery

Wrap up of everything




I will spend about 60-90 min each day on this unit.I have separated my unit into four weeks.I have started with how slavery became such a big part of the young countries economic growth.I will then relate why they are more abundant in the south than in the north.I want to talk about the crops that the slaves were harvesting.We will discuss the facts that had to do with harvesting and why plantation owners needed slaves.I will then tell the children about how the slaves came over to the country.I will talk about the triangle of trading and the goods that accompanied the slaves.We will then talk about the costs of slaves, what slaves were supposed to do and how they were treated.I will also talk to the students about how families were broken apart and sold to different owners all over the states.I want to have a guest speaker come and talk to the children about slavery and African culture.I would like to have the guest speaker bring in artifacts and clothing from Africa so the children can get a sense of their culture.

The second week we will be talking about how slaves were treated.We will talk about specific slaves and why they are known throughout history.We will talk about the day in the life of a slave.We will go through what time they had to wake up, what they ate, how long they worked, what their sleeping conditions were like and some traditions they held on to while in slavery.We will then talk about the Underground Railroad and how it helped slaves escape from the South.We will talk about famous names that are connected to the Underground Railroad.The students will then have the chance to go into the computer lab and research a name connected to the UGRR.This will help the students gain experience with technology and how to research through the Internet and with encyclopedias.

The third week we are going to talk about the involvement of slavery in the Civil War.We are going to research why the North and the South was involved in the Civil War.I also plan to go over important battles that influenced the war.There are some battles that changed how the war ended up.If the battles didnít end the way they did our country might have headed in a totally different way.I want the students to understand the importance of the war.Slavery fits into this because of its role in the war.

Room SetupThe fourth week we will be studying about how the Civil War ended and what came of it.We will discuss the Emancipation Proclamation and what it meant to slavery.We will talk about how some laws are just not followed by everyone. The North had its time to not follow the Fugitive Slave Act and the South chose not to follow the laws that came from the Emancipation Proclamation. Eventually the South had to succeed and give up slavery.It took almost two years from the time that the proclamation was given.We will then talk about slavery and how it is going on today in all corners of the world.I want the students to understand that humans have rights and shouldnít be treated the way that some people are being treated.The unit will culminate on the last day and wrap up on everything that was taught and learned.I want the children to have an opinion of slavery and how it has effected the way things are today.







Room Setup

††††††††††††††††††††††† I have chosen to have my room just as it would be any other day.These lessons arenít intended to break off into groups where they would need to be at centers doing random assignments.I have a base table where the students sit.This can be considered groups but they arenít being split up into different groups to move together around the room.These lessons are meant to be taught to a whole class.The lessons need opinions and suggestions from everyone.This will make for better discussions and more opinions will trigger more thoughts in other students.I think that having the students at tables or groups of desks help in classroom community.Having students close by to help can mean less random questions to the teacher.This leads the teacher free to answer more important questions and to help students as needed.Having the grouped tables or desks helps the teacher view more studentís work and behavior at one time.Because of the way the lessons are set up, the group organization is ideal for this unit.




Lesson Plans









Lesson 1


Title of Lesson: Modern Day Slavery

Teacher (s): Josh Despain

Date: Week 4

Time Allotted: 60 Min

Grade Level(s): 5th

Number of Learners: Whole class (30)


Unit Theme: Slavery

Standard(s) Met: Investigate concerns, issues standards, and conflicts related to universal human rights.



Goal: Students will become aware of modern day slavery. Students will compare and contrast historical and present day images of slavery.†††


Objectives:Students will form an opinion on modern day slavery and share that opinion through picture and words.


Materials Needed: UDHR Article 4 and Picture, Modern day slave pictures, past slave pictures. Chart paper. Pencils. Paper for each child.

Background Information:

ß                 ††††††††††† Although the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery prohibit slavery it does still exist around the world. In fact, millions of men, women and children around the world are forced to lead lives as slaves. Although this exploitation is often not called slavery, the conditions are the same. People are bought and sold, forced to work for little or no pay and are at the mercy of their Ďemployersí.

Several forms of slavery exist today, for example bonded labor (people forced to pay back small loans by working 7 days a week, 365 days a year and they may never be able to pay off these debts), child labor including work in the sex trade, forced marriages, human trafficking, and traditional slavery.

For more information, please go to the Anti-slavery International web site at:



Motivation: Do you think there is still slavery in the world today why/why not?Where do you think you would find slavery in the world today?




  1. K-W about modern day slavery.
  2. Show students pictures of slavery from the past. Ask them to pay attention to what they look like and how they are dressed.Ask them how they feel when they see these pictures.
  3. Show students pictures of modern day slaves.Ask them what they notice about these slaves.What are the similarities and differences? What are their feelings about these pictures?
  4. Introduce the UDHR.Explain that this was produced in 1948 to give every human being rights.Read Article 4.Ask students why they think there is still slavery if this article was formed.
  5. Show Article 4 picture.Ask them to evaluate this picture to the ones that were shown them.
  6. Ask the children to explain what they see in this picture.Ask them what emotions it gives them.
  7. Have the students prepare an advertisement with pictures and words to inform the human population that slavery still exists.


Accommodations: Have a description of what you see in the pictures for blind or seeing impaired.Only have students draw what they think about slavery if they canít describe what they want to in words.Have an oral project for physically disabled students.Have them tell you what they could do for an advertisement.



Closure: Talk to the students about what we as a class could do to help this situation of modern day slavery.


Assessment/Evaluation: Collect studentís advertisements and evaluate the information that is on them.The children should have indicated an opinion and/or informational knowledge on modern day slavery.



Extension: Have students take their advertisements and pictures and have them develop a script that could be performed for a class as a theatre project.



Teacher Reflection:



Lesson 2


Title of Lesson: The Slave Triangle

Teacher (s): Josh Despain

Date: Week 1

Time Allotted: 60 Min

Grade Level(s): 5th

Number of Learners: Whole Class (30)


Unit Theme: Slavery

Standard(s) Met:Identify and describe examples of tensions between individuals

Goal:Trace the development of social and political movements.Examine social and political movements; e.g., suffrage, prohibition, civil rights


Objectives:Students will be able to describe or draw the slave triangle.Students will be able to describe how the slaves were treated on the journey to America.


Materials Needed:Two maps of the Slave Trade Triangle for each student.Overhead of the map.Roots Video. Prepared paragraph of your account of how slaves were treated on the slave ship.


Motivation: Show the part of Roots where they are on the ship and coming to America.Have the students pay attention to how they are treated.



  1. Give each student a map of the slave trade triangle.
  2. On an overhead of the STT, show the students the triangle of the slave trade.
  3. Have the students copy what you show them on their own map.Draw lines in different colors from one country to the other.Write by the lines what was traded at these stops.(Tobacco was taken from the southern states to the West Indies, where they traded if for molasses, sugar, and money. Next, they took it back to New England where they traded it for Rum.Then they took the rum to Africa where they traded it for slaves.The slaves were taken back to the southern colonies and West Indies where the process started all over again.)
  4. Talk about the movie they watched and how the slaves were treated.Write these suggestions on the board.
  5. Have the students write a paragraph as if they were a slave coming over to the Americas on a slave trade ship.Have them tell what conditions were like and how they were treated.
  6. (Optional) The students will then reproduce the map on their own for evaluation.



Accommodations: Have students who are physically disabled orally tell you or a classmate their paragraph.


Closure: Read your paragraph to the class or have readerís theatre with a few students.


Assessment/Evaluation: If you had the students reproduce the STT, you can evaluate the map.If not you can orally quiz the students on what the STT was, where it went, and what was traded. Collect the paragraphs on the slave ship and evaluate if they grasped how slaves were treated.


Extension: You can have the children who finish early read their paragraph to others who are finished.



Teacher Reflection:




Lesson 3


Title of Lesson: Slavery involvement in Civil War

Teacher (s): Josh Despain

Date: Week 3

Time Allotted: 2 days, 60 min each day

Grade Level(s): 5th

Number of Learners: whole class (30)


Unit Theme: Slavery

Standard(s) Met: Examine reasons for the Civil War.


Goal:Identify and describe examples of tensions between an individualís beliefs and government policies and laws


Objectives:Students will gain understanding of the reason slavery was an issue in the Civil War.Students will know reasons for both the North and South and their opinions of slavery.


Materials Needed: Pencils and paper for each child. Computer and websites for children to get information on their subject. Map of the North/South states.


Motivation: Why did we have the Civil War?What were the reasons?Show the North/South states map.Discuss the reasons of why they think the states are split this way.



  1. Talk with the students about why they think slavery is involved in the Civil War.Write suggestions on board.
  2. State the Northís viewpoint on slavery
  3. State the Southís viewpoint on slavery
  4. Ask the students about what side they think is right and why.
  5. Randomly assign the students into two groups.
  6. Tell the students that they are going to act as if they are from either the north or the south depending on their assignment.They are to write a paper defending and giving reasons why they feel the way they do about slavery.
  7. Give one group the assignment to find information on the Internet and encyclopedias on the Northís viewpoint. And visa versa for group 2.
  8. This process will take a while for them to find information.Allow them ample time with the computers to gather their information.
  9. Pair the students up one from each group and have them read their paper to the other explaining their point of view they studied.


Accommodations: Children who canít type allow them to write their paper.Assisted computers and devices for certain students. Orally presented reports for some students who canít write or type.


Closure: Close with the students expressing their feelings on what side they would be on if they were involved in the Civil War.


Assessment/Evaluation: Collect the studentís papers to make sure they completed the assignment.Orally question the students on their knowledge about the differences between the north and the south and their views on slavery.


Extension: Have a mini debate between the groups. Have them try to persuade the other side to convert to their side.



Teacher Reflection:


Lesson 4


Title of Lesson: Underground Railroad

Teacher (s): Josh Despain

Date: Week 2

Time Allotted: 60 min Ė 90 min

Grade Level(s): 5th

Number of Learners: Whole class (30)


Unit Theme: Slavery

Standard(s) Met: Use knowledge of facts and concepts drawn from history to inform decision-making about action taking on public issues.

Goal:Trace the development of social and political movements.Examine social and political movements; e.g., suffrage, prohibition, civil rights.

Objectives:Students will be able to draw the routes of the Underground Railroad.They will be able to describe the process of the Underground Railroad.Students will be able to state important people regarding the UR.


Materials Needed: Map of the Underground Railroad.Pictures of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass


Motivation: Do you think that any slaves were ever freed?How do you think they became free?Tell about Canada and how it is a free place for slaves.





  1. Explain about the Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott Case. This is an act that was passed that states that slave owners from the south could track down their slaves who had escaped into northern states.Any white person aiding or helping a slave could be sent to prison.The Dred Scott case stated that slaves were property of the owner and really had no rights.
  2. Ask the students what they think about these decisions that were made
  3. Ask the students what they think could have been done about these decisions that were now laws.
  4. Ask the students what they would do to help the slaves
  5. Ask students what a railroad is
  6. Ask what they think the underground railroad is
  7. Explain that the Underground Railroad was many people who would try to smuggle slaves up north to freedom.The slaves would receive food and clothing and shelter from slave catchers at the houses.They had to travel by night to avoid being caught.If they were caught they would be taken back to the owner and then punished.The person caught helping the slave was also punished.
  8. Explain that the goal was to get the slaves to Canada where they didnít have the laws against slaves.Once in Canada the United States couldnít go after them to bring them back to their owner.
  9. Show the map of the routes of the Underground Railroad.Explain how they started from the south and went north to Canada.
  10. Explain what an abolitionist is.It is a white person who was against slavery and who worked to help slaves become free.
  11. Talk about Harriet Tubman.This was a slave who helped slaves escape from their plantations and make it north to the beginning of the Underground Railroad.
  12. Frederick Douglass was also a former slave who worked to free the slaves.


Accommodations: Colored map to be able to see the routes better.Audiotape of information on Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass. Oral Explanations about the Underground Railroad instead of papers.




Closure: Even though there were laws and punishments for helping the slaves there were many people who risked all they had to help them.Have the students think about what they would have done if they were living back then.


Assessment/Evaluation: Question the students on the Underground Railroad.Ask them to write down what it was and how it worked.Ask them to write a little bit about what an abolitionist is.Have them talk about Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglas.



Extension: Have the students script out a skit about the Underground Railroad.Have them find a book about a slave who became free due to the Underground Railroad.



Teacher Reflection:









†††††††† Assessment is an important of teaching.If you were to teach a subject and the students didnít pick up on the information and retain any of it, what would be the point of teaching in the first place?A lot of the lessons have ways to assess if the children are learning built in to them.Certain lessons and projects have a way of finding out what the children learned right from the work that they have done and turned in.When the children are inquiring about certain topics they become ready to learn.People learn more when they are interested in the subject.Some ways to help the children become interested is to let them choose the topic to study.As the teacher you just have to set the guidelines of what they can research.Some of the lessons are set up this way.When the students know that what they get on the test at the end of the lesson is what determines their grade they only remember facts for the time until they take the test and then forget the facts they have learned.By orally assessing the students from time to time and making sure they are getting the main points will make it possible for the students to remember more and for longer.

†††††††† Some ways that will assess the students on what they know are verbally, written, projects, diagrams, etc.There are many different ways in each of the categories to assess a topic.

†††††††† Written:For this unit written assessment will probably be used the most.There are many assignments that ask the students to write an opinion or to research a certain topic.By collecting these the teacher can see if the child has understood main points or not.Collecting assignments is a good ongoing way to assess.The students will also give thoughts when the class finishes the K-W-L chart.This can be a good time for the teacher to find out what points stuck out to the children.The reports that the students do will be an easy way to assess if they did the right thing.

†††††††† Verbally:When the teacher asks questions during the assignments they can find out from many students or from just one student what was learned.This is a good way to do a quick assessment to see if you need to teach a certain point more.In the debate you can find out what the children know from what they say.

†††††††† Projects and Diagrams:The students have projects and diagrams that need to be done.You can see from the work done what the child got from the lesson.If the student focused on one certain area maybe they didnít pick up on other areas.This might be the same for other students and may need to be addressed again.

†††††††† Observation:All of these assessments are observations on what the students are learning.By walking around and looking at the children as they work and as they talk to one another you can notice what they have picked up on and what they may need more information on.

†††††††† I think that a test at the end of the unit might be a good overall way to find out what the students have learned.I just think that the questions shouldnít be on specific facts.Have opinion questions or short answer questions that the students can fill in what they know and it isnít just a right or wrong answer.Being able to explain a subject is a lot better than just knowing the date of the Battle of Gettysburg.That may be good to know but to know that the Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point to the war and what that meant to slavery is many times better.












Websites and texts UndergroundRailroad.shtml




African-American History Unit: Jenny Schow, Laura Laycock, and Maureen Y. Gale


Civil War/Slavery Unit: Cheryl Faerber, Katrisha Jensen and Kimberly Johnson.(1994)


Smith, Carter. (1993). Prelude to War Brookfield, Connecticut: The Millbrook Press.


The Civil War. By Mary Ann Zimmerman.1984


Teacher Created Materials Inc.#290 Thematic Unit Ė The Civil War


Winter, Jeanette. Follow the Drinking Gourd


Wolper, David L. (Producer), & Chompsky, Marvin et. al (Directors). (1977). Roots (Vol. 1&2). Burbank, CA: Warner Bros.