Today I used The Color Line in my 8th grade Social Studies class during the unit on Colonial America. Prior to class, students read about the origins of slavery in the colonies and had some prior knowledge about how enslaved Africans were treated. I began class with a warm-up question and then continued with the lesson. I selected this lesson because I wanted students to think critically about the laws written at the time.
In my virtual classroom it is difficult to get everyone involved in discussions and many students are uncomfortable unmuting and discussion. This lesson allowed me to hear from all students. I had a Google Slide set up and students individually responded to each prompt. This allowed me to get answers from everyone in a short amount of time. Students then read and reacted to each others’ answers. (Template of activity found here.)
This lesson was very effective to solidify my students’ understanding of the systemic structures that were created to oppress enslaved Africans. They were also able to draw connections between these actions and today’s society. One student responded, “So this is how it started?” as she saw the origins of racism in this system of laws created by the colonists. I would recommend “The Color Line” lesson for middle and high school students, particularly in conjunction with A Young People’s History of the United States. I was worried that it would be too hard for middle schoolers, but they did great with the concepts and predicting what the laws were.