Sunday, August 15, 2010

2009-1010 Theme: Slavery in America & The Struggle For Freedom

This year’s Project:LUCID unit will focus on Slavery and The Struggle For Freedom. We’ll be building literacy and technology skills while we explore this very important aspect of American history.  Our field trips will focus on the issue of slavery in Connecticut.

2010-2011 Face-to-Face Visits

Field Trip # 1: The Yale University Art Gallery and The Bristish Museum of Art at Yale University, New Haven, CT "The Slave Trade & Exploring West AFrican Culture through Art." (February 2011)
Field Trip # 2: LRMS visit to Partner School at Highcrest School (March 2011)
Field Trip # 3: Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, CT  " Fortune's Story & Slavery in Waterbury" (April 2011)
Field Trip # 4: Highcrest School visit to partner school at LRMS. (April 2011)
Field Trip # 5: TBA (May 2011)

2009-2010 Face-to-Face Visits

Field Trip # 1: The Mark Twain/Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Hartford, CT, "Mark Twain's Memories of Slavery & Uncle Tom's Cabin" (October 2009)
Field Trip # 2: The Webb/Silas Deene House in Wethersfield, CT, "Slavery in Wethersfield" (November 2009)
Field Trip # 3: The Yale University Art Gallery and The British Museum of Art at Yale University, New Haven, CT " The Slave Trade & Exploring West African Culture Through Art"  (January 2010)
Field Trip # 4: The Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, CT ' Slavery in Connecticut  & The Amistad Incident" (March 2010)
Field Trip # 5: Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, CT  " Fortune's Story & Slavery in Waterbury" (April 2010)
Field Trip # 6 A Day with CT Author Patricia Reilly Giff At Lighthouse Park in New Haven (June 2, 2010)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Clay Poetry Plate

Clay Poetry Plate
Subject Area(s)
Art, History, Writing

Students in grades 5-8 will see the connection that art makes to a society and a culture by exploring the art of Dave, an enslaved African American Potter from South Caroline who began making pottery before the Civil War, from around the early 1820’s to the mid-to-late 1860’s. Dave is famous for his ability to throw very large pots often up to 40 gallons or more in size and for the fact that he was able to read and write. We know that because his pots were often signed, ‘Dave’ and the pots often contained short poems that he wrote. The poetry and pottery created by Dave serve as excellent primary source artifacts as we decipher a great deal of information from the poetry about the life and conditions of a slave.
The best current estimate is that Dave was born around 1800. Much of the information that historians have been able to assemble on Dave has come from examining the records of the families that ran the principal pottery works in the region. Over time he was bought and sold by the Drake, Gibbs, Miles, and Landrum families. Dave, for example, was the property of Harry Drake until the latter’s death in 1832. After emancipation in the 1860s, Dave took the last name of Drake, perhaps in commemorative remembrance of the man who presumably taught him to be a potter.
We will use the several books on African American Art, along with the Leonard Todd’s book, ‘Carolina Clay: The Life and Legend of the Slave Potter, Dave’ along with an NPR podcast to explore the life of Dave. The students will complete an art unit, combining clay sculpture with a literacy component as they too learn to express themselves through the visual arts, just as Dave, the Potter, did back in the 19th century.

Essential Understanding

  • How does society influence art?

Essential Questions

  • In the world today we learn as much through visual images as we do through written word.

  • How do a person’s views, beliefs, and opinions shape the way they view and make art?

  • How do people express themselves through art?
Where do ideas come from?

CT Standards

CT Social Studies Curriculum Framework:
Content Standard 1- Content Knowledge: Knowledge of concepts and information from history and social studies is necessary to promote understanding of our nation and our world.

Content Standard 2- History/Social Studies Literacy: Competence in literacy inquiry and research skills is necessary to analyze, evaluate and present history and social studies information.

Content Standard 3-Application: Civic Competence in addressing historical issues and current problems requires the use of information,skills and empathic awareness

CT Art Curriculum Framework:

Content Standard 3- Content: Students will consider, select and applya range of subject matter, symbols and ideas.

Content Standard 4- History and Cultures: Students will understand the visual arts in relation to history and culture.

Content Standard 5- Analysis, Interpretation and Evaluation: Students will reflect upon, describe, analyze, interpret and evaluate their own and others’ work.

Students will create a clay vessel that will be inscribed with a couplet
reflective of a connection they have to their life, inspired by the work of a slave named Dave, the potter.

Clay, clay tools, glaze, underglaze, paint brushes, water, pencils, sketch paper, plate/draped cloth

Details of Activities

Day 1-Dave The Potter Podcast & Writing Assignment

Students will see a PowerPoint on the history and life of ‘‘Dave the Potter’, view some examples of his work and listen to a podcast written by a currant author on Dave’s life.

2. Writing Homework Assignment-A Poem on Freedom

We have just discovered how Dave the Potter used Art to express himself and share details of his life with poetry.  Please write a couplet, 2-3 lines, rhyming or not, that represent your thoughts on freedom. Because the rhyme comes so quickly in rhyming couplets, it tends to call attention to itself.

Day 2-Verses Made By Dave 

1. Pass out Handout Verses Made By Dave to class and lead a group discussion on what we can tell about Dave The Potter and his life as a slave.

2. Art Homework Assignment

Practice writing your couplet in a several different scripts.  You may choose one of these or create your own.

Day 3-Clay Slab Construction

1. Using slab-rolling machine, roll out one large slab (15x15) per student and place on a plate draped in cloth.

2. Press clay slab into the plate and cut edges to fit the size of the plate. Smooth edges of plate with a small wet sponge, ridding the clay of jagged edges or imperfections.

3. Details may be added to the dish for decorative elements (leaves, flowers, shapes).
4. Students may also press into the clay various patterns or textures, leaving space though for the couplet.

5. Clay slab must dry for one week and be bisque fired in a kiln.
6. Using underglazes and very small brushes students will paint their couplet onto the clay plate. Pencils may be used first to space the writing. Decorative elements or patterns may be painted on the plate.

7. Clear glaze is then sponged onto the entire plate (except the bottom) and plate is then fired for the 2nd time.

Suggested Assessment/Evaluation

Clay Poetry Plate Rubric
  • Clay construction
  • Under glaze application

2-Above Average
4-Below Average


Name_______________________Overall Grade__________

Possible Extensions/Resources 
Introduce contemporary African American Artists such as Romare Bearden
 and “Roots Odyssey”


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Project:LUCID Students Spend a Morning with Patricia Reilly Giff

The Project:LUCID students really enjoyed their last face to face today at Lighthouse Point in New Haven. Together with all the Project:LUCID classes from around the state, they listened to Connecticut author Patricia Relly Giff as she read from her various books and shared her insights on the writers craft.  Afterwards each student received a free copy of one of her books and many stood in line to have her autograph their copy.  It was a real treat to have her speak to all of us!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Slavery in America-Part III (Resistance & Freedom)

Slaves did manage to find ways to enrich their lives and keep connected to each other. One way was through music. Slaves often sang when they worked, or at church, which the white owners encouraged. These songs, called “spirituals,” became a vital part of American life. Music such as jazz and blues has its roots in slave spirituals. Some slaves managed to publish “slave narratives,” stories that taught people what the experience of a slave was like.  

Many slaves fought back or ran away to the Northern states where slavery was legal. Both black and white people opposed to slavery formed the “Underground Railroad,” which were secret routes of safe houses – particularly in Ohio -- that sheltered slaves and helped them reach the North. Some slave escaped to the Deep South into Florida and made lives for themselves in places like Pensacola, "The Negro Fort," and Fort Moses as well as living among the Seminole Indians of Florida.  You can see read more and see pictures from Miss Avery's and Mrs. Kopecki's NEH Landmarks in American History Grant here.

Here's a video Mrs. Kopecki and Ms. Avery made on "Fort Negro."

By the 1800’s, many white Americans viewed slavery as wrong. “Abolitionists” were people who worked to ban slavery. However, people in the South depended on slave workers. They knew that if they lost slave labor, they would lose most of their wealth.

Disagreement on the issue became heated. In 1861, the Civil War broke out. The North won, and slavery was made illegal in 1865. This was done in two steps – first President Abraham Lincoln created a statement freeing slaves called the “Emancipation Proclamation.” After that, the U.S. Constitution was changed. The 13th Amendment declared that from that time on, slavery would always be illegal in the United States. (Source:

                                                The Project Lucid students read fugitive slave stories from the book entitled, Escape From Slavery by Doreen Rappaport.  The students completed graphic organizers showing the sequence of events to the various stories and illustrated their favorite scene.  

They shared these responses through Videoconferencing.  Below are some of their illustrations and graphic organizers.

Danielle & Nate-"Free Like The Wind'

Josh & Devin-"Two Tickets For Mr. Johnson and Slave"

Brian and Mike-"Pretending"

Mallory-"A Shipment of Dry Goods"

Gage-"The River of Ice"

Task Essential Questions: a. What is freedom?  b. At what cost should freedom be achieved?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Twentieth-century artist Romare Bearden presents a stylized depiction of the odyssey of captives from Africa to the United States. The ship shows the low decks that were constructed on slaving vessels so that the maximum number of African captives could be transported. A black man's silhouette frames a view of the African continent, a U.S. flag, and seabirds thought to symbolize the souls of Africans returning to their homeland.

Edition: 9/20
27 x 21"
This image was used as the cover of TV Guide
for the orignial broadcast of the Roots Series.

One of the preeminent African American collage artists, Romare Bearden
was born in Charlotte on September 2, 1914, lived in Pittsburgh and Harlem, and died in New York on March 12, 1988. He was a 1935 graduate of New York University and honored with many honorary degrees and awards, including the National Medal of Arts, awarded by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Fortune's Story"-Slavery & The Pursuit of Freedom in Waterbury

In March the Project:LUCID students went to the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, CT  There the students hooked up with their Highcrest partners and learned about Slavery in Waterbury, CT.  As a pre-visit activity, they explored Fortune's Story on the Mattatuck Museum's website.  
As part of the tour, the students took a walk around the green, exploring the rich history of the area, with a focus on Fortune's family as well as the lives of the African Americans of Colonial Waterbury.

The group stopped at the Historic Grand Street Cemetery where Fortune and the other African Americans, both slave and free, were buried in the separate, "colored burial plot."

The burial ground was moved in the late 19th century to make way for the Silas Bronson public library and those that could moved their loved ones remains to the new Riverside cemetery nearby.  Those too poor to move their family members, including the towns slave community, remains interred on this spot.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Venture Smith-The Struggle For Freedom in Connecticut

The Life of Venture Smith
Life of a Connecticut Slave
Day I 
Read the summary of "Slavery in Connecticut" and review the timeline.  Have a class discussion of the African American experience in colonial Connecticut.

Day 2

1. Tale a moment to write down your definition of slavery.  As a class come to a consensus an list the elements or components of slavery on the board.

2. Make a T-Chart in your notebook titled "Slavery in Connecticut" on one side, leaving plenty of room between each element.

3. Read alone or with you teacher "A Narrative of The Life and Adventures of Venture Smith" and look for evidence of slavery as you as a class have defined it.  When you have found an event that corresponds to one of the listed elements of slavery, quote the Narrative, writing page number and corresponding line (s) on the right hand side of the T-Chart.

Day 3

Discussion Questions:
1. Did slavery exist in Connecticut in the colonial period?
2. What was the African American experience in colonial Connecticut?
3. How can primary source documents help us to better understand history?

Slave Ads and 
Slave Life in Connecticut
Day 4

Advertisements offering rewards for capturing runaway slaves was a common sight in Colonial Connecticut newspapers.  Through these ads we can learn a great deal about everyday life for these enslaved people.  

1. In groups of four, analyze one of these "Connecticut Slave Sale Ads" or "Runaway Slave Ads" published in Connecticut newspapers.  As you are reading, brainstorm any and all observations and questions you might have.  Have a recorder in the group write down you group's observations and questions.

2. Have a class discussion about what we can learn about the daily lives of Connecticut slaves.  How did they dress?  What sort of work did they do?

The Living Consequences: Connecticut Apologizes for Slavery
Resolution Expressing The Profound Regret of The General Assembly