Reading Like a Historian: Thomas Nast’s Political Cartoons

Resource ID#: 36369 Type: Lesson Plan

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General Information

Subject(s): Social Studies, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 11
Intended Audience: Educators educators
Suggested Technology: Computer for Presenter, LCD Projector, Overhead Projector
Instructional Time: 1 Hour(s)
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Freely Available: Yes
Keywords: Reconstruction, Thomas Nast, Radical Republicans, sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, close reading
Instructional Component Type(s): Lesson Plan Worksheet Image/Photograph
Instructional Design Framework(s): Direct Instruction
Resource Collection: General Collection

Aligned Standards

This vetted resource aligns to concepts or skills in these benchmarks.

5 Lesson Plans

Reading Like a Historian: Emancipation Proclamation

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Did Lincoln free the slaves or did the slaves free themselves? The teacher may use background information (provided) to set up the topic. Students then examine 2 documents: 1) Lincoln's text of the Proclamation itself and 2) an 1881 recollection by Frederick Douglass on a meeting with Lincoln. For each, students answer worksheet questions in pairs and then fill out a graphic organizer to reach a conclusion. A final class discussion ends the lesson.

Reading Like a Historian: John Brown

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.

Reading Like a Historian: Radical Reconstruction

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?

Reading Like a Historian: Reconstruction SAC

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.

Reading Like a Historian: Sharecropping

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.

Related Resources

Other vetted resources related to this resource.

Lesson Plans

Reading Like a Historian: Emancipation Proclamation:

In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Did Lincoln free the slaves or did the slaves free themselves? The teacher may use background information (provided) to set up the topic. Students then examine 2 documents: 1) Lincoln's text of the Proclamation itself and 2) an 1881 recollection by Frederick Douglass on a meeting with Lincoln. For each, students answer worksheet questions in pairs and then fill out a graphic organizer to reach a conclusion. A final class discussion ends the lesson.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: John Brown:

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.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Radical Reconstruction:

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?

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Reconstruction SAC:

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.

Type: Lesson Plan

Reading Like a Historian: Sharecropping:

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.

Type: Lesson Plan