View & Respond – Roots: The Saga of an American Family

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Today, the class worked on (7.SL.1) & (7.SL.5) common core speaking/listening standards with a view & respond about Crossing Over – How Roots Captivated an Entire Nation. I wanted the students to watch the documentary to get the background about the miniseries. In the future, the students will be viewing an adaptation of Roots: The Saga of an American Family, a novel written by Alex Haley , first published in 1976. It tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African, captured as an adolescent and sold into slavery in the United States, and follows his life and the lives of his alleged descendants in the United States. Due to the graphic nature of this miniseries, I have sent home permission slips [here] to inform parents that we will be participating in this view & respond to this miniseries in Language Arts/Literature from March 11th to March 22nd. This view & respond will also serve as a precursor to our Language Arts/Writing class’ Back to The Future Unit during the 4th quarter. 

We will also be using our active listening skills by using the 5W’s notes format (who, what, why, where, when). During the view & responds, students will be actively watching via an episode guide that can be viewed [here]. Once the video is complete, I will give students about 3-5 minutes to jot down any information they couldn’t during the viewing, and then I will open the floor up for discussion by asking initial reactions. Students will also participate in Journal Entries to summarize/reflect their thoughts about what was viewed for the day. This is a very mature topic. That being said, I believe the students will handle this accordingly as my students have done in the past. I’ve said this before, and I think it’s important to see what our youth is thinking and what they have to say about it all. One of my main objectives with this type of view and respond is to engage, effectively, in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) on topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own point(s) of views clearly. I hope to reach that outcome through the multimedia source presented as well as notes using 5W’s format, discussion, and journal entries.

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4 comments on “View & Respond – Roots: The Saga of an American Family

  1. What a great topic to be covering! I’m just beginning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry with my sixth grader — for the first time. This miniseries would be a great tie-in, if I have time…

    • I’ve heard great things about Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry from my wife. The class got off to a good start. After watching the 20 minute documentary, we discussed & journaled – overall positive feedback. I’m looking forward to viewing the rest. It was a great pick up @ Walmart for $20 this summer. It will also be an excellent bridge to my Back To The Future unit. Thanks for stopping by…

  2. Roll of Thunder is an excellent book to use; you can tie-in arithmetic, history, science and psychology into the unit since the novel covers all of these things. I remember “Roots” very well, as it started when I was in High School majoring in theatre. A lot of stars, then , participated in the series. You could have your students search their own roots; my teacher assigned me this project and it took us a whole week. I think it is instructive to have students see where they have come from–what’s in their heritage.

    • You read my mind. Tonight, students will be responsible for searching their own family genealogy. Students are to ask parents/guardians about their family background using the 5 W’s = Who they are, What older generations did for a living, Where they came from (location), Why they located here and When they came to this area…. 😉

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