Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Know Their Names: The Clotilda's Survivors

Subject Area

English Language Arts
Social Studies




In this activity, students will be introduced to actual historical people who were forced from their homes in Africa, as a part of the slave trade, and brought to Alabama on the ship Clotilda. Students will read a brief informational text and use the content to complete a K-W-L chart, mark the birth and death place of each enslaved person, and formulate questions about the course of the enslaved person’s life.  Students will not be made aware of the enslaved status or the means they traveled to the United States during this activity, but they will begin to recognize, with guidance from the teacher, that Mobile, Alabama, along with other sites, was a center of the slave trade and is home to a port that was a stop on the Triangular Trade routes.

    Social Studies (2010) Grade(s): 5


    Describe colonial economic life and labor systems in the Americas.

    Unpacked Content



    • economic
    • labor system
    • establishment
    • Triangular Trade Route
    • Hemisphere
    • Americas
    • Latin America
    • North America
    • South America
    • island


    Students know:
    • Each colony's economic life and labor system was unique and based on the geographic location of the colony.
    • Most slaves came from a variety of countries in Africa and were brought to the Americas by slave traders using the Triangular Trade Route.


    Students are able to:
    • Locate each colony on a physical and political map.
    • Describe and explain the types of labor used in each colony (indentured servitude, slaves, free blacks, merchants, farmers, shipping, fishing/whaling, among others).
    • Trace, examine and evaluate the Triangular Trade Route and its impact on colonial economy and labor systems.


    Students understand that:
    • Different labor systems were used to build and grow each of the 13 colonies.
    • Slave labor was brought to the Americas by the Northern colonial shipping industry and purchased and used in the Caribbean islands and Southern colonies.
    Social Studies (2010) Grade(s): 5


    Recognizing centers of slave trade in the Western Hemisphere and the establishment of the Triangular Trade Route

    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 5


    Demonstrate comprehension of varied literary and informational texts by utilizing its content when discussing or writing in response to the text.

    Unpacked Content



    • Comprehension
    • Literary text
    • Informational text
    • Discussing
    • Writing
    • Response


    Students know:
    • Comprehension of text can be demonstrated by referring to the text in discussions or written responses.
    • Informational text is nonfiction text, and literary text is fictional.


    Students are able to:
    • Demonstrate understanding of varied literary and informational text by referring to the text in discussions.
    • Demonstrate understanding of varied literary and informational text by referring to the text in written responses.


    Students understand that:
    • They can show that they understood a wide variety of literary and informational text by discussing or writing about specific content from the text.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    The students will:

    1. demonstrate comprehension of informational text by completing a K-W-L chart.
    2. recognize the United States as a participant in the trade of enslaved people and Alabama as a port of the Triangular Trade Routes.

    Activity Details

    The teacher will:

    1. Form small groups and assign jobs according to classroom procedures.
    2. Distribute one Name & Information Card and one world map copy to each small group.
    3. Instruct the groups to read their Name & Information Card and use the information to label their person’s birthplace and birthdate and their death/burial place and burial or death date on the map.  Note that some of the information is unknown.  
    4. Provide instructions for each group to access the K-W-L chart that has been digitally shared with them.  Perhaps you will share it with the reporter of each group.  The recorder should enter the person’s name in the blanks on each section of the chart.  You may ask each group’s facilitator to keep their group on task and make sure everyone gets to contribute.   Allow the group time to complete the K portion of the chart using the information they read on their Name & Information Card.  Time keepers will keep time according to your instructions.  
    5. Stop here to discuss and allow each reporter to share what they know about their person while projecting that group’s K-W-L chart on your classroom screen.  Note that there is very little information, but it is significant.  Using the labeled maps, ask students what pattern they see. (each person was born in Africa and died in the U.S.).  Discuss how or why this may have occurred, but do not confirm or deny any responses.  You may want the time-keepers to monitor response time per group.  Determine how you want to collect and/or display their maps.  They will be used again in a later related activity.  
    6. Allow the group’s recorder to record what the group wants to learn about their person in the W field of the chart. Direct them to formulate questions they have about how the person left Africa, how they arrived in the U.S., how old they were when they made the trip, what kind of life did they have in each country, etc.  Each group should record 3-5 questions.
    7. Explain that they will be accessing their K-W-L charts later to complete the L portion.  For now, it should be left blank.  It will be completed after further research and later in the unit plan learning activity (What We Learned About Clotilda's Survivors).
    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    Review the K portion of the Know Their Names KWL Chart and the labels on each group’s map to ensure that students comprehended the information they read on the Name & Information Cards and utilized the content to respond.

    Monitor student participation and responses in the discussion and their formulated questions in the W field of the Know Their Names KWL chart to verify that they are considering slave trade as a way the people came to the United States/Alabama.




    • Students may work individually instead of in small groups.
    • After the sharing out part of the activity, allow students time to research their person further.



    • Students may provide their answers for the K and W fields of the K-W-L Chart in writing or verbally if the digital format is not the best option.  
    • The teacher may want to assign struggling students with a specific job that suits their skills if they are working in small groups.  Timekeeper may be a good option.  


    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    16 to 30 Minutes

    Related Learning Activities

    Learning Activity (Before)

    Learning Activity (During)

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation


    • Be somewhat familiar with the trade of enslaved people based on their fourth-grade course of study in social studies.
    • Know classroom procedures regarding small group jobs and participation.
    • Be prepared for class according to classroom procedures.


    • Determine how to divide the class into groups and assign jobs (examples: facilitator, recorder, reporter, and time-keeper) according to established procedures.
    • Print/copy Name & Information Cards and world maps for each group.
    • Digitally share the Know Their Names K-W-L Chart with the class and be ready to project it as you discuss it and as students share out what they know and hope to learn about their person.
    • Understand that the history of slave trade and enslaved people is a sensitive topic and should be handled respectfully, with concern for each student, and following your school district’s policies and procedures.

    Decide if this will be used as a stand-alone learning activity or if you plan to continue with the entire learning unit (insert link here later). If you choose to not use the related activities, after activity step 6, you will need to have your students research their Clotilda survivor in a manner of your choice in order to complete the L portion of the K-W-L chart.

    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources



    • Access to a digital platform to share the KWL Chart with the class and a way to project documents
    • Job titles and descriptions for small group time.  Here is one example.  
    • K-W-L Chart personalized to your class as needed and shared electronically with your students

    Digital Tools / Resources