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Amistad: A Nation at odds
Objectives: Students will discuss slavery in the United States and its role in the
expansion of the nation
Students will analyze the Amistad case to examine portrayal of the enslaved
Materials: A History of Us: Liberty for All? 1820-1860
Movie Trailer (shared drive)
Education World: The Mende Language
John Quincy Adams Speech from Amistad the movie
• Warm Up 1: Watch the Amistad trailer. In your Social Studies Notebook
respond to the following prompt: Freedom is not given; it is our right, at
birth. But there are moments in history when it must be taken. (Students
will share this response AFTER reading the story of Amistad)
• Using guided reading strategies, the students will read Chapter 32:
Amistad means friendship (p. 171-176) and break for discuss throughout to
check for understanding.
• Once groups have finished reading (allow 5-8min.) instruct learners to
review their responses to the warm up and reflect on their original
response. Allow a few minutes for student to change their responses if
• Share responses if time allows
• Warm Up 2: Take a Mind walk: Imagine you’re in a foreign country and
are taken into custody. You do not speak the language and there is no
one there who can understand you. What do you do? How would you try
to explain yourself to your captors?
• Listen to the story of Josiah Gibbs and John Covey. Was Josiah Gibbs
an ordinary hero? Why did these men help “write” history?
• Watch John Quincy Adams speech from the Amistad trial (this is approx.
10 minutes and will need discussion throughout in order to keep focus)
• Discuss Adams motivation for defending the Mende Africans.
• Respond to the quote on page 171 by Mamadou Kouyate. In your Social
Studies notebook, write a response and make connections between her
words and the story of Amistad (complete for homework)
• Warm Up 3: Share, in a small group, your responses from last night’s
homework assignment (pg. 171 quote). Each small group will share one
response with the whole class.
• Critical Thinking: The word “amistad” means friendship in Spanish. On a
piece of chart paper, write the following question: Do you think Amistad
was a good name for the ship that sailed with the Mende Africans? Divide
the paper into two columns. One column should be labeled NO and one
labeled YES. Have students respond to the question before writing their
response on the chart paper. Students will record their responses on the
chart paper in the appropriate column. Conduct discussion as responses
are being given. Encourage students to support their argument/idea and
be accepting of all responses that include those supports.