Enslavement and the Enslaved at Monticello

Lesson Plan

Title: Enslavement and the Enslaved at Monticello

Descriptive Subtitle: The lives of enslaved people living at Monticello will be explored, analyzed, and documented by students.  Enslaved people such as Sally Hemings and her family, along with other enslaved persons will be analyzed.  The focal point of the activities is centered around Monticello’s Mulberry Row.

Grade Level: middle (6-8)

Author Information:

Name: Sheldon Wilson
School: Herbert A. Ammons Middle School
City: Miami
State: Florida

Duration: 240 min over 4 school days (1 hour per day)

Overview: The presentation tool ThingLink is used to present information to students.  The lesson will focus on the enslaved people living and working on Monticello with an emphasis on Mulberry Row.  The links on the ThingLink are embed on a map of Mulberry Row.  This fits within my curriculum through a unit on slavery.  It can also be used on the Early Republic, the founding fathers, internal slave trade, Revolutionary Era, and so on.

Prior knowledge: Prior knowledge such as the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Revolutionary War 


SS.6.A.2.3 Differentiate economic systems of New England, Middle and Southern colonies including indentured servants and slaves as labor sources.

SS.6.A.3.15 Examine this time period (1763-1815) from the perspective of historically under-represented groups (children, indentured servants, Native Americans, slaves, women, working class).


Students will understand the complexities of slavery and how it affected the lives of real people.
Students will be able to analyze the lives of several enslaved Blacks that were enslaved on Monticello.
Students will know about the lives of enslaved people on Monticello outside of the classification of being enslaved.


DAY 1:

Bell Ringer: log on to and open up the KWL padlet listed below.  If students have access to mobile devices, computers, or a laptop, share the link with the students so they can access the padlet.  Allow students to post their responses for the first two columns only. They will complete the third column after the completion of the lesson. (10 minutes)

  1. Log on to If you do not have an account you can create one for free. Use the ThinkLink provided and project it on a LCD projector, promethean board, or any projection instrument. If students have access to devices (laptops, computers, cell phones, etc). Allow them to preview the bullets for 5- 10 minutes.  You can share this ThingLink with your students and they can access it while you are presenting it to the whole class .  If they do not have access to a device, explain the nature of the ThinkLink and click on a few bullets but do not fully open the links. (10 minutes)

The thinklink is organized with different colored bullets. The bullets are:

  • Blue- overall and general information
  • Black-  information on the job of an enslaved person and it is located where they would have worked
  • Green- articles, documents, images, etc of life on Monticello for enslaved people
  • Red- article or link of the story of the life of an enslaved person on Monticello
  1. Teacher will present the content of the blue bullets (overall or general information) to students. Teachers should give a brief lecture of 1-5 minutes of each blue bullet. (15 minutes)
  2. Allow students to come to the board and click on a link to show the class. Have the student read the information, play the video, etc. Have the student give a brief overview of the material covered in the bullet. (25 minutes)

Home Learning: Have student review any bullets not presented in class.  Write a 100 word essay summarizing at least 2 bullets.

DAY 2:

Bell Ringer– Have students answer the question- What was most compelling aspect of the life of the enslaved people discussed last class? Explain why.  Allow a few students to share their responses. (10 minutes)

  1. Log on to and open the slavery gallery section. Preview the various sections and click on a few images to model for the students. (10 minutes)
  1. Go over the steps for creating a History Lab (10 minutes)

*NOTE: Every student must have access to a computer with a word processing application and access to the internet.  Students will create to history labs.  One lab will remain blank (this will be used by another student) and another for an answer key.

  1. Identify a standard (you might want to provide this for the students)
  2. Create an essential question (this should be done as a whole class activity, allowing students to give suggestions of appropriate essential questions.
  3. Find 4 primary or secondary source documents (The Monticello site will be ideal for this).
  4. Write the name and a very brief description in the first column of the history lab.
  5. Copy the documents on pages 2-5 of the history lab. Be sure to label the pages with the name of the documents.
  6. make a copy of this at this point and send it to the teacher

IMPORTANT- Students must send the teacher a copy of the history lab without answering any comprehension questions

*this copy will include: standard, essential question, lst of documents in first column, copy of each document with title on pages 2-5.

* the 2nd and 3rd columns where a student will write their responses will remain blank.  Also, the thesis section will remain blank

  1. students will write answers on a Complete the rest of the history lab. (students must complete this at home if not finished in class)
  2. Students will begin to complete their answer key (30 minutes)

Home Learning: Students MUST finish their labs at home

DAY 3:

Bell Ringer– What document (preferably not an article) tells the story at least one enslaved person on Mulberry Row the best? Explain. (10 minutes)

  1. Allow students time to make final touches on their history lab and/or history lab answer key. (10 minutes)
  2. Complete student generated history lab. (40 minutes)
  3. randomly assign students in groups of 2-3 students per group
  4. students will swap blank copies of the history labs with each other. Documents will be shared through Microsoft OneDrive, but any similar site (Drop Box, Drop, Google Docs, etc.).
  5. students will complete their partners history lab

Home Learning: write planning sheet for their essay using the information in the history lab.

DAY 4: Essay writing

Bell Ringer– What was your thesis and why did you choose it? (10 minutes)

  1. Students will write the rough draft of their essay using the essay planning sheet they completed for home learning. (35 minutes)
  2. Students will peer review each other’s essay. (15 minutes)

Home Learning: Students will write the final draft of their essay using a word processing program such as Microsoft Word.


Made with Padlet

Assessment(s): Students will write a five-paragraph essay on either one enslaved person, multiple enslaved people, or life on Mulberry Row for an enslaved person

Assessment Criteria: (rubric, checklist, etc.)

An essay rubric will be used for the assessment.

Accommodations: Many of the documents and links used in this lesson come from or  The articles used are on different readability levels.  Every article chosen here were generated for middle school students.  However, there are elementary and high school versions which could be substituted for the middle school version.