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5 Lesson Plans
In this lesson, students analyze several primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was John Brown a "misguided fanatic?" The teacher may use a PowerPoint and/or timeline (both are included) to set up the topic. Students then examine 2-3 documents (note: 3 are included, but the third is optional and guiding questions for it are not included): 1) Brown's last letter, written on the day of his death sentence, 2) an 1881 recollection by Frederick Douglass, and 3) a letter by Brown admirer L. Maria Child. Students answer sourcing and contextualization questions for each, and a final class discussion address Brown's fanaticism or lack of it.
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why was the Radical Republican plan for Reconstruction considered "radical?" The teacher first uses a PowerPoint to review the Civil War and introduce the challenges of Reconstruction. Students then analyze and answer guiding questions about 3 documents: a speech by Thaddeus Stevens, a Radical, and 2 speeches by President Andrew Johnson. A final class discussion evaluates the Radicals' plan and compares it to Johnson's approach: Which was more likely to unite the country?
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents and engage in a Structured Academic Controversy in an effort to answer the central historical question: Were African Americans free during Reconstruction? After an introduction/review of the time period, students answer detailed guiding questions on 4 text documents and a set of photos illustrating the post-Civil War freedoms and restrictions which blacks faced. Students then divide into groups of 4 and into pairs within each group. Each pair presents the argument to the other that blacks were/were not free; only at the end do students abandon their previous positions, reach consensus in writing as a group, and defend that view in a final class discussion.
In this lesson, students analyze a primary source document in an effort to answer the central historical question: How accurate is the textbook's description of sharecropping? Students first view an 1898 photo of sharecroppers-most will probably assume the workers to be slaves. In pairs, students then read their textbook's description of sharecropping and compare it to an actual 1882 sharecropping contract. Guiding questions on the document and a final discussion allow the class to judge the accuracy of the textbook's depiction.
In this lesson, students analyze the political cartoons of Thomas Nast in an effort to answer the central historical question: How did Northern attitudes toward freed African Americans change during Reconstruction? The teacher first shows students a contemporary political cartoon (not included) and explains how cartoons can teach us about the context of their time. Students then answer sourcing questions about Nast and analyze 2 of his cartoons: 1 from 1865 (in favor of black suffrage) and another from 1874 (dubious of the same). A final class discussion synthesizes students' opinions.
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