Colonial Williamsburg's most recent Electronic Field Trip was "The Slave Trade," since February is African American history month. We first got to see this a few years ago. This returned at a perfect time in our school studies, because once again we are studying the 19th century. From the end of the slave trade in America in 1809, to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854, the Dred Scott decision and the Lincoln Douglas debates, the states battled verbally with vehemence before literal bombardment began the American Civil War.
Through the EFT video we learned many facets of the slave trade. While hearing the poignant stories of many individual slaves, we also heard the stories of events affecting them. Even though the American slave trade ended in 1808, we learned that some sneakily continued the trade. We meet the doctor of a slave ship in the 1850's, though it soon becomes apparent he is not there for benefit of the slaves. He joyously tells his nephews his dark secrets despite the disapproval of the parents. The doctor points out the hypocrisy of his brother and sister-in-law who own a slave themselves. Throughout the EFT, listening to the stories of how slaves arrived on the middle passage, things got darker and darker, until the heroes arrived! At the end of the EFT is the story of American naval ships whose job it was to patrol the waters for illegal slave ships. They'd care for the slaves as besst they could as they tried to restore them to freedom.
Along with the video EFT, available on-line 24/7 until the end of the summer, is on-line access to 2 computer games about the EFT, a teacher packet full of information, resources and teaching ideas, and even a 24/7 message board. Students of subscribed schools are able to call in questions to the live program, which airs once a month. Other oppotunities available are to be a skype school on the broadcast (My kids got to be the first ones!) , or your students might like to submit video questions. E-mailing a historical character is another opportunity!
In the link above, I share about many of the opportunities available that we took advantage of. This time we added a new activity. I printed out these colorful cards and had my son separate them into one of two piles: those that involve slavery and those that do not. Then I read a brief history of slavery, much of which was review but had enough new information for him to sneakily move some of his cards into different piles! Then I had him answer questions on some task cards, asking him to pretend to be a merchant or tradesperson and helping him to think through how his task in that situation might have been affected by slavery. The point was that many Northerners, who were free states by the 19th century, thought they had nothing to do with slavery. The activity helped us to see how Northerners were more involved in slavery than they thought.
The next CW EFT is this coming Thursday, March 14. After the heavy story of slavery, this one will be much more lighthearted, using puppetry with actors to teach about the 18th century economy! I'm excited about this one! Be sure to subscribe through Homeschool Buyer's Coop who make the CW EFTs affordable for homeschoolers.