Students will complete some introductory activities that help establish the term “reconstruction” in a literary sense rather than as a historical term. Students will then take on the role of different types of people during Reconstruction and compete for the vision of America post-Civil War. The lesson is a lead in to Reconstruction and some of the aspects such as sharecropping and literacy tests that shaped existing inequities even after the war was over.
I have taught Civil War Reconstruction several dozen times, but using this introductory lesson has worked wonders for enhancing student understanding of that time period. In the past, students understood that inequities and different viewpoints existed during Reconstruction. However, understanding the people behind those decisions is just as important as understanding what happened, since comprehending the motivations can help combat inequality in other areas of society. In essence, students will better understand the “why” of Reconstruction actions.