Scholarly research shapes how we view the past and, by extension, the world around us. Inspired by this valuable learning opportunity, Researching Roots will guide students in grades 11 and 12 through a comparative research project in which they analyze accounts of slavery — as presented in the Roots miniseries and other historical sources — to find similarities and differences between the sources while discovering their own unifying ideas on the topic.

Students will:

  • provide details about how the topic is addressed in Roots and other historical sources
  • identify multiple perspectives and/or biases on the topic
  • build an argument for how their topic should be viewed or considered
  • cite sources to acknowledge where ideas came from and distinguish those ideas from their own thoughts

The lesson plan has a modular structure, allowing teachers to determine the level of program engagement that best fits his or her classroom.

Please note: Roots is rated TV-14 due to intense language, violence, and sexual violence. While teaching this program, you will likely want to discuss these issues with students, and inform administrators and parents of the Roots series’ rating. It might be helpful to explain that in historical research, it is important to accurately portray the research topic, even in the case of topics that include harsh realities such as slavery.


Teach the Lesson

Students will be introduced to the concept of historical scholarship and learn methods to compare various sources to inform their own perspective on historical events. 



Do the Research

Students will utilize a wide range of primary and secondary resources to research one of four topics related to slavery in the United States from 1619–1865. They will also complete a culminating project.



Watch the Videos