New ideas for teaching TST

ASPnet Spain

Since the launch of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Education Project in 1998, a global network of scholars, scientists, and educators have generated new scholarship and insights that reflect a fuller, more accurate history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This information conveys a deeper understanding of the trade as a multi-national economic machine whose tentacles helped shape the New World. The advent of globalization provides an opportunity to think in new ways about aspects of our past that influence who we are today.   

Much progress has been made in expanding student awareness of the causes and consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (TST). The second cycle of TST project activities, launched in the school year 2010/2011, encouraged all participants – administrators, educators and students – to make use of teaching tools and information available about slavery. This website discusses how to mobilize schools to work on the topic of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Are you curious about your community? Allow that curiosity to lead you to discoveries that could make you see your home town, and your world, in a different light.  

The website is designed to assist school administrators and classroom teachers as well as ASPnet National Coordinators and TST Focal Points in new activities surveying the history of the slave trade and its relevance to the lives of today’s students. Within the framework of the recent International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2010) and the International Year for People of African Descent (2011), this website offers ideas for facilitating cooperation and twinning between schools within the triangular network of Associated Schools in Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and North America. Resources are provided to contribute to increased awareness and knowledge about the causes and consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade – including modern forms of slavery and racism. Ideas and proposals are offered for building successful programme activities. The website includes pointers for improving online and offline communication that can expand school exchanges and networking opportunities within ASPnet. These questions are designed to stir your curiosity, sharpen your powers of observation and launch your journey of inquiry into local and global history.


Getting involved in TST as a teacher

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Are you a committed TST teacher looking for information on one of the following categories?

Make use of this teacher’s guide. Just click on one of the following links and start your own learning, or get to know about TST-activities designed for the classroom.

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What Can I Do? Suggestions and Ideas on how to become a skilled TST teacher


Share your enthusiasm. Talk about what you are doing or trying to accomplish with your  colleagues, with civic leaders, with organizations and media outlets in your community.

Who knows where your next great idea – or partnership – may come from!

Be consistent in your vocabulary and clear in your explanations. Prepare your lessons and  materials in advance. Remember, not all lessons unfold as planned. Have backup plans    and be willing to change plans if needed.

Setting Up a Programme

Make the most of your own curiosity and that of your students. Some of the most remarkable learning begins with the simple question ‘Why?’ Why are things the way they are and how did they come to be that way?

A good teacher motivates students to learn and to take on projects independently. Let your enthusiasm for the topic become contagious to your students.

Establishing Partnerships

See instruction through an interdisciplinary lens. Since the TST contains a surprising number of themes (family, community, migration, mathematics, agriculture, commerce, freedom, citizenship, etc), teaching about the TST opens new opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines to bring broader insights and more engaging challenges to the classroom setting.

Draw on your leadership skills. Reach outside of the classroom for resources to inspire and strengthen your instruction. Scholars, experts and  knowledgeable people can be found in the business world, in civic and religious organizations, public services, historic sites, government agencies, colleges and universities of local communities. Reach out with an invitation to share their expertise.

Collaborating with Local Information Repositories and Institutions of Higher Education

Strike up a friendship with knowledge banks such as museums, libraries and/or institutions of higher learning in your area. Most colleges and universities are a wealth of resources, including libraries, researchers and research facilities, visiting scholars, graduate students and resident faculty. Under the community outreach obligation which most institutions acknowledge, you, your students and colleagues can construct a mutually beneficial working relationship to further the goals of your TST project.

Professional Development

Stay abreast of the scholarship and literature about the slave trade. Within the last decade there has been an explosion of interest and information available in the field of slavery studies. (e.g. see UNESCO resources on the website).

Be comfortable with the topic. Do you have the necessary command of the subject matter? Develop your own familiarity with the complexities of slavery. Watch the DVD Slave Routes: A Global Vision to inspire questions and classroom activities.

Finally, remember to maintain contact with your ASPnet National Coordinator. From a word of encouragement to actual programme-delivery support, your ASPnet National Coordinator is prepared to be of assistance.

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How to build up Partnerships and School Twinning

Why build partnerships? There are a number of ‘positives’ that grow from local or international partnerships. In fact, those who team up with others by mutual agreement often greatly enhance each other’s capabilities and learning outcomes. The idea of partnerships within the TST project has equal merit when applied to activities for students, teachers and ASPnet National Coordinators.

Such strategic alliances are a logical and timely response to intense and rapid changes in the knowledge today’s youth must master in order to assume a productive place in modern society. The potential expansion of resources and know-how in a partnership points to a path of success. Drawing on the knowledge of multiple partners to address the challenge of teaching the intricate history of the TST as well as its modern societal reflections is the main benefit of a partnership.

Where do we begin to construct partnerships in this TST initiative?

Partnerships within the TST project can begin anywhere between two teachers in the same grade, within the same subject area, across disciplines in the same school, to schools across geographic boundaries.

Other partners can be found in universities, museums and sites of public history, civic organizations, arts institutions, foundations and private corporations.           

Why Twin?

Students and their teachers in the UNESCO TST project are encouraged to explore how collaboration with another school – school twinning – might enhance the learning experience. This section includes keys to success, suggested resources, project ideas, and activity ‘sparks’. Consider developing a school twinning project with a TST partner in another region. Twinning enables students to build important knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Through twinning, students practice the ideals of learning to live together through self-reflection and using active dialogue to understand one another. Learning objectives for the twinning experience bring students to:

  • Work towards peace and mutual understanding
  • Promote social justice and equity
  • Embrace diversity and respect differences
  • Engage in global civic dialogue and action.


School Twinning is Global Education and Civic Engagement in Action!


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A School Twinning Checklist

1. Address Potential Challenges to Your Partnership

  • Have you and your partner agreed on the expectations of the twinning?
  • Are these expectations realistic?
  • Have you involved those responsible for carrying out the project in the initial negotiations?
  • Have they accepted the stated expectations as their own?
  • What is your language of choice for the exchange? How can you address the challenges this choice might present?
  • Do you and your partner have different speeds and styles of decision-making? Of planning? Of handling data?
  • How is information shared?

2. Getting Started: Planning for Success

  • Review your academic calendar and curriculum map.
  • What are possible areas for collaboration (e.g. TST subjects / concepts you are teaching)?
  • How much time can you devote? 
  • When might your class be available (or not)?
  • What technologies do you have?
  • Would the twinning activities take place during school days or in an after-school club?


3. Developing Your Partnership

  • Gain support from your school administration and express interest in twinning to your ASPnet National Coordinator, TST Focal Point, or ASPnet Platform.
  • Identify a point of contact for each school and get to know your partner.
  • Share academic calendars and curriculum maps (e.g. subject areas, vacation periods).
  • Agree on communication channels, frequency, and timing.
  • Explore possible communication tools (e.g. email, postal mail, wikis, and online groups).
  • Map out the project, student learning objectives, evaluation methods, and follow-up.
  • Decide on how the project will be presented and shared with other TST participants.

4. Launch the Collaboration

  • Implement “getting to know you” activities appropriate for the duration and objectives of the collaboration.
  • Implement project and focus on clear and timely communication.
  • Monitor student participation and communication carefully.
  • Build-in time for project and learning reflection for all involved.


5. Share, Evaluate and Plan Next Steps

  • Post your project and comments to the ASPnet TST online platform.
  • Evaluate the partnership and student learning outcomes.
  • Celebrate successes, recognize the contributions of all, and thank partners.
  • Explore possible future collaboration.

Create Physical Collaboration Space and Displays

Create a space for the management and organization of your collaboration. If possible, include the students in selecting and designing an additional space in the classroom to display your joint work. For example, this could be a blackboard or bulletin board space. 

Creating Virtual Collaboration Space and Display

Create an online space for the management and organization of your collaboration. The space should be interactive and easy to use.  Decide whether students will have access to the site or only teachers. Choose the level of site security most appropriate for your work. Use this opportunity to familiarize your students with online tools.  Some students may be very advanced in this area. Encourage them to share platform and tool ideas and experiences.



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Helpful Collaboration Tools for Twinning

  • Use student essays and written statements to create an e-journal or printed journal with your partner school. Invite students to also submit artistic work that represents concepts and history being discussed.
  • Create drawn or software-created word clouds using free software available online.  Create an online gallery with your partner school.
  • Send copies of student artwork and essays to the partner school.  Working with a local community partner, host a gallery in a public or school space that celebrates not only the topics but also the twinning by displaying work from partner school students. Host a special night for friends, family and school members to attend.  Select students to introduce the gallery, welcome visitors, and explain the exchange.
  • Host a free online telephone or video conference to discuss diverse topic areas of interest for effective student participation.
  • Create a short film or podcast. Select three questions around the topic for the students to answer.  After a class discussion of the concepts, divide the students into three groups.  Assign one of the questions to each group.  In each group, students should be chosen for the following roles: host, recorder/scribe, topic speaker, and film / technology crew.  The host introduces the group and the question.  The recorder/scribe writes down information during the brainstorming session. The topic speaker summarizes the brainstorming.  The film / technology crew assists with the recording, editing, and formatting of the film or podcast.
  • Document and share local sites of memory with your partner school through student-created brochures or ICT- enhanced presentations.  Students might take digital pictures, make drawings, and record interviews with experts about the sites.
  • Create an e-forum or collaborative website to facilitate twinning projects.  Select topics, agree on time frames, share student work, and host discussions.

Getting involved in the TST as an ASPnet National Coordinator or TST Focal Point

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In your capacity as an ASPnet National Coordinator, what can be done to secure a firm foundation for the success of the TST projects in your country?

“Breaking the Silence”, the Transatlantic Slave Trade (TST) Education Project links schools in the three regions involved in the triangular Transatlantic Slave Trade (Africa, the Americas and Europe). The goal of the TST Project is increased awareness of the causes and consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (including modern forms of slavery and racism). This is accomplished through educational exchanges, sharing best practices, developing and diffusing educational material. 


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Ideas to help you build up local networks of support

From your national vantage point, survey the environments to which you have access. In your position, you are likely to be connected to networks of government, education, civic and cultural life in your country. 

Begin With Who You Know

Do any of your network contacts have interests which coincide with those of your TST projects?

...and What You Know

  • Compile a list of sites of memory by region that are relevant to the slave trade, if possible. Can these lists be shared with schools that are looking for locations to research within their communities?
  • Is your country commemorating any date of historical relevance to the slave trade? Pass that information along to teachers, complete with contacts representing civic groups that may be planning public events.
  • Are there any major cultural events (art exhibitions, plays, films, etc.) that are scheduled during this school year that might be of interest for exploring local ties to slavery or its aftermath?

Develop a Plan of Action

Meet with school administrators and master teachers who have pledged a commitment to develop and sustain TST activities. What are they trying to achieve? What do they need to reach their goals? What outcomes will they have which demonstrate success at the end of this experience? Do any of these outcomes appeal to the needs of your contacts?

Communications Checklist

Working together with project schools, develop written project profiles. 

  • Who are the students and teachers involved? What are they doing?
  • When are they doing it?
  • Where are the schools and activities?
  • How are these projects unique? This will come in handy when speaking with potential resource assistance or the general public.

The TST activities that are proposed here, compared to other educational programmes, are relatively inexpensive to conduct. Investigation of local history calls for scholars and expert information, research skills, a command of technology and a willingness to share with schools those opportunities and resources that institutions and organizations generate anyway.

  • What specifically are you asking of the network participant?
  • Define the benefits a network supporter would gain from helping the TST project participants?

A.  Libraries and Other Archives

Cultivating a library support network

Ask if the national, regional or local libraries would consider making available a research guide to materials relating to slavery. With the TST project emphasis on researching into local history, such a compilation would be an asset for use by students as well as local researchers, specialists and the general public.

 B.    Higher Education Institutions 

Cultivating a University support network

Ask if there are humanities faculties with research interest in slavery studies. Are there graduate students interested in the topic? Look beyond the History Department for support. What’s happening in campus departments of Anthropology? Archaeology? Geography? Economics? World Languages? Art? Music? Science? Are any professors working on grants that have relevance to the topic? What are the special collections available in the main campus library? Is there an art gallery on campus? Any films being shown on campus that are of interest and open to the public?

C. Collaboration with Local Governments

Contact local government offices to ask about programmes supporting inclusion and diversity in the community.

  • Explore options to continue the partnership.
  • Arrange effective communications: How and when does the local government communicate events and happenings? Ask that the school be included on the distribution list. Include government officials on relevant school announcements.
  • Cultivate opportunities for civic engagement: Does the local government want teacher or learner representation on committees? At events?
  • Find recognition opportunities: What public spaces might be available to showcase learner work? At what events might learners receive awards or mention?
  • Invite the office-in-charge to visit the school and discuss the role and importance of inclusion and diversity in our community.
  •  As a follow-up activity, the learners might write a short article detailing what was learned and describing why inclusion and diversity are important in our community. The article might be included with a class or school picture in the local government’s newsletter or other communications.
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Concrete questions concerning collaboration

Hundreds of partnerships are formed worldwide on a frequent basis to grapple with issues such as national policy, labor markets, public health or spiritual well-being. Many studies have been carried out on the subject, which demonstrate that a partnership is a valuable instrument for overcoming individual challenges. Nonetheless, partnerships face several obstacles: they require work to set up and maintain. They require will and resources. The results are not likely to come overnight. The interests of partners, and therefore their approach to certain problems may be rather different.

A successful partnership enhances the effectiveness of action through more efficient use of resources, promotes innovation, and is distinguished by a strong commitment from each partner. To achieve sustained success it is essential that basic local parameters be created and agreed upon; equally essential are good will and resourcing. 

If the intended partners have a high degree of identification with the partnership, this will be a firm foundation to build upon. Partners have to agree on a strategy based on unanimous acceptance of a plan of action. This often requires building consensus. Here’s a diagram that illustrates key common necessities to bring teachers and schools from different backgrounds together in partnership.

Our local communities hold important stories, experiences, and evidence of the global TST story. There are universal themes and linkages to be explored in our distant but connected communities. Let us forge new ties of solidarity by compiling resources to enhance our understanding and teaching of the TST on both a local and international level. (See image: DOES THIS COLLABORATION HAVE)


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