Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

History of Enslavement Collaborative Timeline

Subject Area

Digital Literacy and Computer Science
Social Studies




This activity will give students the opportunity to reflect on and utilize their prior learning regarding enslavement. Students will work in small groups and use an online tool to collaboratively create a timeline of the history of slavery. They will use their own notes from the associated during learning activity (History of Enslavement) to include information that demonstrates their recognition of centers of the slave trade in the Western Hemisphere and the establishment of the Triangular Trade Route. 

    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

    Digital Literacy and Computer Science (2018) Grade(s): 5


    Collaborate locally and globally using online digital tools under teacher supervision.

    Unpacked Content



    • collaborate
    • locally
    • globally
    • teacher supervision


    Students know:
    • communication and collaboration can occur locally in your city or state and globally across the US and different countries.
    • various methods for communication and collaboration.


    Students are able to:
    • collaborate with others locally and globally using digital tools with teacher supervision.


    Students understand that:
    • you are not restricted by your location, language, time zone, etc.
    • to collaboration with others using digital tools.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    The students will:

    • use an online digital tool (Sutori) to collaboratively create a timeline that depicts the history of slavery.
    • recognize centers of the slave trade and the establishment of the Triangular Trade Route in their timeline.

    Activity Details

    The teacher will:

    1. Instruct the students to access their Guided Notes from the History of Enslavement activity.  
    2. Divide the students into their groups and remind them of their assigned roles and responsibilities within the group.  The teacher may want to continue using the same groups and roles as assigned in the associated before activity, Know Their Names:  The Clotilda’s Survivors.
    3. Explain to the students that they will use their guided notes to create a timeline of the history of slavery.  The timeline will be a collaborative effort by the class, with each small group being responsible for one portion of the timeline.
    4. Share the timeline template with students using the Sutori platform.  
    5. Demonstrate how each group member has a specific job for their portion of the timeline that includes instructions.  Allow them to preview their assignments and answer questions as needed.  Allow time for them to work, reminding the timekeeper of their job responsibilities to keep everyone on track with the allotted time.  
    6. Once students are finished, project and review the timeline as a class.


    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    As the groups work, monitor them to informally assess that they are correctly using Sutori to collaborate on the timeline and that they are including information that identifies centers of slave trade and Triangular Trade routes.

    After the timeline is created, follow your established procedure to formally assess the students:

    • used the online tool to collaborate with classmates to create an accurate timeline.
    • identified centers of slave trade and the establishment of Triangular Trade routes/stops (European countries, such as Great Britain; Africa; the Americas).
      • The teacher can refer to the template for the information that should be included for students to demonstrate their understanding of this content.


    Students who need more of a challenge may be allowed to add additional date headings and information to the timeline template, work alone instead of in a group, or add the source citations at the end of the timeline.



    Students who need extra support may be allowed to be the timekeeper as that job requires less writing.  They may also be allowed to use the articles with the main information highlighted in addition to their Guided Notes documents.  Another option is to give struggling students a partially completed timeline.  The teacher may also allow 2 struggling students to serve as timekeeper or another job title together.

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    16 to 30 Minutes

    Related Learning Activities

    Learning Activity (Before)

    Learning Activity (During)

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    Student Preparation:

    The students will need basic computer skills in order to navigate and create the timeline with their group members using Sutori.  They will need to be familiar with their assigned group and their job responsibilities as established in the associated before learning activity (Know Their Names:  Alabama's Enslaved Persons KWL Chart) as well as their notes from that activity.  If students did not complete the associated during learning activity, they will need to be familiar with the dates and events indicated on the timeline template.  They will need to be able to read, comprehend, and write in response to the content as directed by the teacher. 

    Teacher Preparation:

    The teacher will need to be familiar with using Sutori.  A free account will need to be set up  ahead of time.  They will use the provided link to the digital tool to copy the timeline template and share it (top right of the Sutori template page) with the students so they can edit it with their group members. The copy function can be found using the … menu at the top of the Sutori template page. Groups will need to be set up prior to starting the activity.  Ideally, there will be enough students to have six groups of four people, but the teacher may need to adjust the timeline template to fit the size of the class. The teacher will need to have assigned the group jobs beforehand and be prepared to guide students as they complete their tasks as assigned in the timeline template.  Here is one example of assigning group roles.   The teacher will need to be familiar with the dates and events highlighted on the timeline template.



    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources


    • Access to their Guided Notes sheets from the associated during learning activity (History of Enslavement)
    • Digital device with internet
    • A Sutori account set up by the teacher and access to the History of Enslavement Timeline Template


    • Sutori account and access to the History of Enslavement Timeline Template
    • Classroom projector or interactive whiteboard

    Digital Tools / Resources