LESSON PLAN: Discrimination–Slavery & The Civil War
Authors: Carrie Lopez & Michael Avila
TH: CR2-5. a. Devise original ideas for a drama/theatre work that reflect collective inquiry about characters and their given circumstances.
TH: Pr4.1.5.b. Use physical choices to create meaning in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Re8.1.5.b. Explain responses to characters based on cultural perspectives when participating in or observing drama/theatre work.
TH:Cn11.2.5.a. Analyze commonalities and differences between stories set in different cultures in preparation for a drama/theatre work.
Educational Objective: Students will be able to empathize with American slaves and Civil War soldiers through collaborative analysis and creative exploration of historical characters’ living situations in role, thus preparing them to combat discrimination in their own lives.
Materials Needed: Narratives & pictures of two American slaves (Richard Toler & Mary Reynolds); General’s hat or coat; butcher paper or whiteboard/markers for outlines of characters (role on the wall); paper/pencils for letter writing
Re-cap of slavery. What was slavery?(human being was owned by another human being—treated as inferior with restrictions. Performed labor for their owners and many under very awful conditions. Seen as property and had many rights withheld from them. American Colonies, 17th& 18thcenturies) Invite the students to handle this topic today respectfully, without being silly. This time period was a very difficult time for many and we want to treat this topic in the right frame of mind.
Hook: Pictures of real life slaves. Create two groups and give each group a picture of a real American slave (see attachments) with their name and few facts about them. One group will have a sheet on Mary Reynolds and one will have a sheet on Richard Toler. Ask each group to study their picture/facts and make inferences as the type of character each picture resembles.
Role on the Wall: Each group will come up and draw an outline of their historical character on the board. Ask them to write their inferences around the outside of the outline.
Discussion:Ask them to come back as a group and ask them if they were to interview their character, what kinds of questions would they ask? What would they like to know more about in regards to slavery and the circumstances of their living during that time period? What specific questions might they have in regards to what little information they have been given about their characters?
Narratives/Analysis: Tell the students these people were interviewed in real life and we have a portion of their narratives. Ask the groups to turn their sheets over and read/analyze their narratives within their groups. Discuss within the groups what they can gather about the character of each person.
Role on the Wall: Each group will come up and add to their drawn character outlines. They will add further information they have gathered about characteristics their figure possesses. This time they will add to the inside of the outline, representing a deeper analysis of their character based on experiences/emotions/feelings that have come directly from the characters’ narratives.
Discussion: What have you learned about today in regards to the life of a slave? What stood out to you and why? Were some of your questions answered?
Tableau work—Individual/Group: (individual work could be optional here, based on time allowance)
Individual work: First individually the students will find their own space in the room and, looking at the narratives, find two moments/scenarios when their character felt strong emotion, especially through some kind of conflict. Ask the students to imagine themselves as their character in each of those specific moments, focusing on one at a time. Ask questions to guide them through the creation of the circumstances. Where are you? How are you feeling? Who is around you? What has just happened? Then ask them to freeze in their own tableau, imagining they are in that moment, feeling that emotion.
Group work/Interpretation: Next, invite the students to come out of role and have the groups come back together. Ask the students to share their individual moments they explored in tableau and then collaborate and create two tableaus together representing significant moments of conflict in these historical figures’ lives based on the narratives and information we have been given. After each tableau, ask the observers to analyze and try to interpret what is happening. Then have the group explain both their tableaus after they share them.
Discussion/Application: Let’s reflect. We don’t live during that time and hopefully will never have to experience the horrific experiences the slaves did, but are we able to identify at all with them? Perhaps understand to a degree some of the emotions they felt. Introduce the word discrimination and how slavery is connected to that word. (unfair treatment of others based on certain characteristics or differences) Have you ever felt discriminated against…probably not in this same way to this extent, but people can discriminate and judge based on other factors other than skin color.. Have you ever felt judged or seen others judge or discriminate against others? (racially or culturally insensitive jokes, name calling/insults based on religion or gender or disability, being told you can’t participate because you are a girl or boy, teasing based on how someone dresses because of their culture)
Transition (Carrie): Not all people believed in discriminating against slaves and they were willing to stand up and even fight to end slavery. And that is really the root cause of the Civil War.
Transition (Michael):Now, do you remember from class the two different sides of the American Revolution. Today, we are going to explore some of the people that fought for the Union.
Set the space
Who were some people that help supported the Union side?
• Soldiers (white and black), nurses, cooks, secretaries, suppliers
Now, we are travelling to one of the Union soldier camps. Let’s create the space by making a circle of chairs to represent seats around a campfire. Now close your eyes.
• Imagine yourself as someone in this camp: soldier, nurse, cook, secretary, etc.
• Think about what you are wearing, if you look different from normal self, and why you are in the camp.
• Open your eyes and take a seat in the circle
When I sit down and put on this hat, I will become General Ulysses S. Grant. When I stand up and take off the hat, I will become myself.
Teacher in role:
“Greeting Troops, I am General Grant. I thank you for your service. I have a few questions I would like to ask you and then you can feel free to ask me question as well.”
“I understand someone here used to be a slave, who is that? What is your name? Why did you decide to join the Union?”
“Who else do we have here?”
Invite some students to share their name and purpose in the war.
“Now I realize how difficult wartime is and it is difficult to keep hope. I heard that some of you are starting to lose hope, get cold feet, or even think of leaving this troop. I am not here to punish, I only want to understand why. Can anyone enlighten me?”
“Thank you for sharing. I want to hear from some of you why we need to keep up this fight.”
“Now, do you have any questions for me?”
“Thank you for your time, I have to go now.”
Out of Role
Let’s discuss some of the discoveries we made about General Grant and how some of the soldiers may have felt.
• Why was it so important for them to fight in this war?
• What did we learn about discrimination?
• What could the Union say to the Confederation to help them understand that discrimination is bad?
Writing in role:
Let’s imagine the troops decide to write a letter to the Confederates to try and persuade them to stop fighting and understand what discrimination is.
• Find a partner and share your letter with them.
• What kind of things did you hear?
• How might the confederates feel or think after reading these letters?
We’ve explored discrimination by examining the lives of some slaves and becoming troops of the Union army. Now, let’s apply what we learned to our own lives?
• How is discrimination present in our lives?
• How can we fight discrimination without violence?