KET's Kentucky's Underground Railroad: Pathway to Freedom is an excellent resource for Kentucky social studies classrooms. The documentary, which presents part of Kentucky's slavery story, is useful to teachers because of both its content and its format.
The content of the documentary supports Kentucky's social studies curriculum with historical, geographical, cultural, civic, and economic information. The show is filled with visual and auditory artifacts including spirituals, posters from the time period, photographs, and historical accounts by several local and national experts. Using the show to present the rich information to students alone makes it a valuable learning tool.
The content of the documentary also serves as a starting point for further investigations of the topic. You will see several themes running through the content of the show that can become student research projects, for example. Kentucky's geography and slavery practices were two themes I picked out. Students could complete research activities to answer questions like, "How did Kentucky's geography influence the fugitive slave movement?" or "What were the major influences of the form of slavery in Kentucky?"
I thought the documentary's format was very flexible, which allows for a variety of classroom situations. The program is divided into several segments that can either be shown all together or as separate entities. Instead of taking one class period to view the entire show, you can pick out parts of the documentary that focus on certain aspects of the slavery experience in Kentucky. I think this makes those segments more useful, since student attention is focused on one particular topic.
The documentary's format and segments also gave me an idea for a student project. The idea I had comes from the show's field trip segments, which were shot at various locations important to the history of Kentucky's Underground Railroad. These field trip segments could serve as models and examples for similar student projects where students produce their own field trip mini-documentaries using locations important in their families or communities.