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5 Lesson Plans
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.
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 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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