The variety of maps, essays, charts, databases, images, and more make the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database website an essential resource for inquiry-based projects and instruction related to the slave trade.
For instance, if you're teaching a particular time period and usually rely on Google images to find illustrative charts that kind-of (but not really) match a presentation you're giving, use this site's interactive timeline and maps to pinpoint specific years, locations, and information to share more specific and illuminating information. Teachers can create document-based question (DBQ) prompts using the collection of images and documents available under the Resources and Images tabs. Students can create their own DBQ prompts by gathering seven primary sources from the site that would support a prompt they create. This site is also ripe with opportunities for HyperDoc lessons or web quests, whether created on Google Docs, Discovery Education Board Builder, or another digital format.
Since the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database's dense materials can be intimidating at first, teachers might start off with a specific question that students must answer, citing resources from the site. The best responses could be presented to the class to help show other students which resources are available and how they can be used to answer questions and drive research. Similarly, teachers might try a MythBusters-style teaching strategy. Provide students with a claim -- e.g., "No enslaved people were brought to North America after the end of the American Civil War." Students must then prove or disprove the claim using data from the site. Of course, once students are familiar with what the site offers, the natural next step is having students use the data for research presentations or papers. For that purpose, there's probably no better resource available.Continue reading Show less
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database is an extensive collection of primary source material and data on the slave trade and African diaspora. It's a complex resource created by researchers, and, considering the nature of the content, the site's focus on rigor and primary sources is appropriate. There are three primary databases linked to from the home page that allow students to explore different data sets -- voyages, estimates, and names -- which allow the study of the flow of ships during the trade, the extent of the trade, and the names of Africans forced into slavery. The voyages database is the most extensive, however. Massive amounts of data can be filtered and then visualized in map, table, graph, and timeline form. The information in these databases can add valuable depth to traditional classroom approaches to slavery, triangular trade routes, or Columbian Exchange impacts, and would be useful for research. By experimenting with these databases, students will be hard-pressed not to gain valuable new insight into the extent and impact of slavery.
There's a lot of supporting material to these databases. For example, the essays section offers commentary on commonly explored topics in secondary school like the Middle Passage, abolition, or personal histories of enslaved people -- but while useful, these extra resources are not the site's primary strength. The unique value of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database is exploring raw data and using that data to generate conclusions. However, make sure to check out the lesson plans under the Educational Materials tab for some ways to implement the database in your classroom.
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database can be an essential tool for students' inquiry-based research into slavery. The extensive amount of data -- and the ability to manipulate it in various ways -- makes it tough to not instinctively start analyzing the slave trade at a deeper level. This grim and sobering information shows students the profound human costs of slavery, and helps students visualize how slavery evolved over time and which regions were most directly impacted. For learners drawn to numbers and science, this resource also provides a compelling way to dig into history that's not just reading copious amounts of text.
While the site has a ton of different materials, the strongest aspects of it are the maps, statistics, and interactive charts and timelines. The maps in particular -- which are found in a bunch of different sections -- offer excellent visualizations and have added features that bring new dimensions and perspectives to the data. Short summaries and explanations accompany these maps, helping to orient a student's inquiry.
With all that said, this is a site made by researchers for researchers, making it best for advanced placement history (especially AP World or AP US History) students. There's not a lot of attention paid to the design; there are endless charts of statistics, plus small text with little change in font or size throughout the site, and clustered images in specific areas. This makes it less accessible to many students, and most students, without guidance, won't get drawn into the site. However, the information the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database offers is truly unparalleled, and teachers carefully planning for middle and high school history can incorporate the site into their lesson planning or guided activities for students.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.
Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11–12 texts and topics.
Analyze how the text structures information or ideas into categories or hierarchies, demonstrating understanding of the information or ideas.
Analyze the author’s purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, identifying important issues that remain unresolved.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.
Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11–12 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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