Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Black History Month: Slavery Project Based Learning Part 1

We are well underway into our PBL (project based learning) unit on Slavery and Heroes. The big question we are researching is: Why would someone risk their life to save others? We started out collecting some schema that showed what we already knew about various related topics to our study. 

Students were given post-its and were asked to write down something they knew about slavery. I was surprised that some of my scholars had no idea what slavery was, but that was just fine, because we are going deep into the topic and they will learn a lot. Next, I asked them to write down one question they had about slavery. Students also wrote anything they knew about the underground railroad.

Later, we got into groups and created posters all about freedom. Students basically wrote down anything they could think of or knew about the topic. 

Next, students wrote what they would do for freedom and we made a giant anchor chart. 

Since many students didn't have any idea what slavery was, we watched this video on Youtube that showed how Africans were taken from their homes and shipped to other places to be sold. We also had a discussion about what slavery was like. I also told the students that whenever there is something awful happening, look for the helpers. There will always be helpers. Instead of focusing on negatives, focus on the good, pointing them to our essential question, Why would someone risk their life to save others?

The next day, I introduced a slave, named Henry, with the book, Henry's Freedom Box. If you don't know the story, rush out and get a copy of this amazing book! 

Henry endured incredible anguish during his time as a slave, being separated from his family, later marrying and having his children and own wife sold to another owner. He decided to leave his life of slavery behind. A free black man helped to mail him to freedom. My students were enthralled and had lots of comments and questions about this story. In fact, they were so into the book, they asked to get back to the book instead of having recess. 

After reading the book, we tried to see what it would be like to be mailed in a box. Students were excited to squeeze into the box and see for themselves what it must have been like when Henry hid in a box for 27 hours. 

We also just started literacy groups based on several different books. I have five groups and each group is reading/discussing a different book related to the underground railroad and slavery theme.

Students read the first section and created a graffiti wall of their learning. 

These are the books we are reading: 

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