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Reconstruction: The Promises and Failures of Post-Civil War America

Author: Hye-Won Gehring and Shanee Garner


John Bartram High School

Year: 2009

Seminar: American Political Culture

Grade Level: 10

Keywords: 10th grade, 11th grade, African American History, American History, economic tropes, English, High School, historical contexts, literacy skills, political, Reconstruction, social, student-centered

School Subject(s): African American History, African American Literature, American History, English, Literature, Social Studies

This unit is designed for 10th grade students who are studying African American History and English. It can also be taught to 11th grade students studying American History. This curriculum unit is collaboratively designed to teach the period of Reconstruction at the high school level. It is intended to be approximately four weeks in length and is interdisciplinary in nature to promote optimum student engagement and student achievement.

By studying such a widely debated and controversial period, students will be exposed to the political, social, and economic tropes that shaped the era. The unit will chiefly be student-centered in an effort to challenge students to deconstruct the period for a more thorough analysis of its complexity. Additionally, the unit is steeped in primary documents in order to 1) increase literacy skills and 2) gain a more authentic understanding of historical contexts that shape our world.

This unit covers material that is highly debatable and more complex than what is common in high school English and History courses. With that said, although the content is abstract in nature, it offers strategies for differentiating materials, which is necessary for the success of all students.

Download Unit: GehringGarner-2L.pdf

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Full Unit Text

This unit is designed for 10th grade students who are studying African American History and English. It can also be taught to 11th grade students studying American History.

This curriculum is a joint unit collaboratively designed by a history and English teacher. The unit, approximately four weeks in length, is interdisciplinary in nature to promote optimum student engagement and student achievement. Although many lessons are complete, it is our hope that enough material is covered for teachers to feel comfortable expanding on this unit. We ultimately seek to raise the bar on what content and concepts are to be taught in high school classrooms.

By studying such a widely contested period, students will be exposed to the political, social, and economic tropes that shaped an era. The unit will be chiefly student-centered in an effort to challenge students to deconstruct the period for a more thorough analysis of its complexity. Additionally, the unit is steeped in primary documents in order to 1) increase literacy skills and 2) gain a more authentic understanding of the period.

The culminating project for this unit is a Reconstruction simulator where students will attempt to reconstruct a nation ravaged by the Civil War and faced with the challenge of rebuilding itself. The simulator will be documented and evaluated using a class developed rubric on what a successful Reconstructive period would look like.

Where possible, commonly referred to graphic organizers and differentiation techniques have been cited to assist in scaffolding for learners of mixed ability.


In the interest of developing world-class thinkers who are adept at the challenges in a globalized world, this unit will be interdisciplinary in nature. Students must receive instruction that challenges them to draw connections between content that they are learning and the larger context in which exists. To hone their critical thinking skills students must be able to pull on various bodies of knowledge across disciplines. This unit it designed to do just that. The proposed curriculum unit will examine Reconstruction through the lens of literature. A unit designed with this end in mind will stress the creative, critical, analytical, and reasoning skills needed to succeed in higher education and life.

Ideally, this unit is for 10th grade English and Social Studies courses. This curriculum unit will be designed to teach 10th grade students holistically on a block roster schedule (90 minute class periods). Although we designed it for teachers who co-teach English II and African American History, it is easily adaptable for any history or English course. In reference to Philadelphia, it seamlessly fits into the School District of Philadelphia’s 10th Grade African American History curriculum as well as the 11th Grade American History curriculum. Lesson plans are easily adaptable for teachers who do not have the opportunity to co-teach.

Historical Context

Over a century later, as if a reflection of the period itself, Reconstruction and the years following it have forced scholars and non-scholars repeatedly to reevaluate its success and the yardsticks with which we measure it. The early 20th Century scholarship of William Dunning and John D. Burgess taught of a South accepting of defeat and earnestly prepared to reunite with the Union. According to Dunning and Burgess, Southern whites were prepared to allow justice for Blacks to prevail. Although Dunning and Burgess’ account of the period was widely accepted, opposing viewpoints existed.i

Decades ahead of his time and widely ignored, W.E.B. Dubois underscored the biased scholarship of the time. With a simple proclamation in his Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880, DuBois plainly stated “If he (the reader) believes that the Negro in America and in general is an average and ordinary human being who under the given environment develops like other humans, then he will read this story and judge it by the facts adduced. If however, he regards the Negro as a distinctly inferior creation, who can never successfully take part in modern civilization and whose emancipation and enfranchisement were gestures against nature, then he will need something more than the facts that I have set down.” DuBois’ assertion speaks volumes of his belief that inherent in the problematic scholarship of the time was the reality that Blacks were not considered men, thus rendering scholarship unable to represent the Reconstruction era accurately.ii

Immediately following the Civil War, the country stood at the threshold of opportunity. The South was in physical and agricultural ruins. Agricultural production was crippled by battles fought on southern land, and farms had been neglected while white Southerners and slaves were supporting the war effort. Infrastructures across the South were destroyed by fire and battles. Many families felt the impact of the tremendously high casualty rate of the war, while others lost their ability to support themselves financially. As the South was rebuilding itself, the victorious North was also imposing new laws, new leadership, and new heavy taxes. The most exigent of the changes was the reuniting of the nation brought on by the abolition of slavery. African Americans and the world wondered what would be the fate of the four million newly emancipated black Southerners.iii

Would the political policies and actions of the country serve as redemption for the sins of slavery? Could we effectively move the South towards a healthy economy that abandoned this “peculiar institution”? With the collapse of slavery, blacks were finally able abandon the pretense of loyalty and affection to their former masters—a feat traumatic for slaves and masters alike. African Americans were now faced with the challenge of how to become part of a society that deemed them inferior.iv

The weeks after the Civil War, white Southerners responded in waves of violence and brutality. Often with little provocation, rapes, riots, beatings and murders were inflicted in an effort to remind African Americans of their position. To further exert white superiority, Black Codes were enacted that severely limited the freedom of the freedmen.v

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, commonly referred to as the Freedmen’s Bureau, was a government agency created to assist the transition to freedom for blacks. Under the command of General O.O. Howard, the Bureau helped freedmen obtain land, gain educations, served as negotiators between black and white disputes, and offer basic assistance for both black and white people. While it made considerable gains in the area of education, it was understaffed and underfunded.

This reality, coupled with a lackluster and underfunded Reconstruction effort on the part of the North, helped to spark a great deal of violence and discrimination across the Nation. While efforts to improve life for African Americans were made such as Special Field Order 15 and the establishment of the Freedmen’s Bureau, they lacked the broad support needed to weather the storm of southern white and White House resistance. Eventually, assistance efforts were reversed and replaced with brutal Black Codes from 1865-1866 that further disenfranchised and marginalized blacks. These codes, in addition to mounting white hostility, left blacks fearful of exercising their legal rights and cemented patterns of white superiority and black subordination that is still evident

Nonetheless, ethnocentric white Americans rationalized that the abolition of slavery was an improvement in itself. Though obviously true, Reconstruction did not amount to the sweeping reform of its potential. It did not deliver on its promise of helping blacks and whites to gain equal footing and status. The Confederate states were left in economic and physical ruin, with blacks the most disadvantaged.

Radical Republicans rose as a militant group demanding equal treatment for African Americans and their full integration in American political life. They pushed for the passing of the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to all people born in the United States.

During Reconstruction there was a surge of black Republican politicians whose areas of interest were in education, civil rights, and economic opportunity. Disjointed factionalism prevented black Republicans from gaining much political clout, but their large presence did serve to ignite dissatisfaction among white Democrats and gave rise to violent intimidation methods that were created to prevent African American political participation. The Ku Klux Klan and other terroristic organizations were founded, and their violent campaigns to eliminate black political participation were successful. The 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870, putting pressure on individual states to ensure voting rights on all male citizens, and in direct response to the terrorism in the South, Enforcement Acts were passed, making it a federal offense to interfere with people’s voting rights.

In a final attempt to quell the violence in the south, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875 stipulating that all public facilities including school be available to African Americans; however the nation as a whole was growing tired of the energy that was demanded to keep the south peaceful. Less than a decade later, the 1875 Act was deemed unconstitutional. Acts of inhumane violence against southern blacks became tired news, and Northerners were frustrated with the amount of troops committed to the south. Following the election of 1876, the north withdrew most of their troops and Reconstruction ended, though struggles over black voting rights continued into the 1890’s.vii


The unit will be closely aligned to the PA Standards for History and PA Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening.

The Objectives of the unit will include the following:

  • To read and understand primary works which are crucial to understanding the time period
  • To draw connections between the literary and historical context of the time
  • To be able to articulate and provide written evidence of a mastery of the time period
  • To determine the purpose of the Freedmen’s Bureau and evaluate its effectiveness
  • To determine the needs of the southern African American community in the Post Civil War era by creating Freedmen’s Bureau Budget Proposal
  • To judge the motivation behind Democrats creating Black Codes, and evaluating their differences depending on location
  • To determine the Radical Republicans’ political positions
  • To illustrate the importance of the 14th and 15th Amendment
  • To illustrate how easily people might be lured into joining organizations that promote prejudice and intolerance
  • To determine the effects of the terror the KKK brought to southern blacks
  • To determine why the North had fleeting interest in supporting the principles of Reconstruction.


On a historical level, this unit will ensure that students will be able to analyze and evaluate the significance of primary documents, material artifacts, and historical places as groundwork for further study. The units will examine both major and obscure works from many positions in an effort to gain a comprehensive understanding of the time period. By examining both fiction and non-fiction texts in both disciplines, students will be able to more authentically gauge the ethos of the time period, rendering them better informed and authentically engaged. Various strategies will be used for student engagement and achievement:

  • Cooperative learning (think-pair-share)
  • Chart, Graph and Picture Analysis
  • Power-Point
  • Differentiated instruction
  • Reading circles
  • Previewing Vocabulary
  • Making connections
  • Summarizing and Synthesizing information through writing
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Independent research
  • Reflection
  • Structured Note-Taking
  • Role playing
  • Comparing and Contrasting
  • Homework
  • Providing Recognition

Each student will complete:

  • A 3 page newspaper or news show from various viewpoints that closely models what people during that period would have thought, felt, experienced
  • A 5 page research paper on an issue during that time
  • A formal one page speech as a response to various assigned texts
  • A poem that models the themes of the time
  • A reconstruction simulator that expresses the views of four major voices from the era.
  • Various graphic organizers and guided notes

Classroom Activities

Lesson one: (Two Days) Morality: Understanding White Male Hostility during Reconstruction and Beyond

Lesson Goals:

Students will be able to:

  1. Complete Frayer Model Map for word: emasculation
  2. Read and William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” and analyze the story by completing a story retell chart
  3. Draw connections between Abner Snopes of “Barn Burning” and the feelings of white men during the era of Reconstruction by completing a concept map.


Emasculate of virile or procreative power; to castrate; to geld; To deprive of masculine vigor or spirit; to weaken; to render effeminate; loss of power and masculinity



Access prior knowledge by posting the following “Do Now” on the board: List three issues that White Southerners had immediately following the Civil War. Review responses as a class and write them on the board. Explain to students that they are going to read a story by famed author William Faulkner called “Barn Burning”. Ask students to make predictions about the text based on the title. Hand out concept maps and Frayer Model sheet. Instruct students to look up and fill out the Frayer model concept sheet in pairs.

In center of concept map, instruct students to write “emasculation” as the starting concept. Use “think -a-loud” strategy to complete story. Stop periodically to fill in “associated concepts.” Some examples may include

  1. Abner Snopes burning down barns, as they are the most valuable part of an estate
  2. Abner Snopes feeling the need to wipe his feet on the white carpet in the story
  3. Abner Snopes being “shut out” of the house by the Black servant
  4. When Abner is being taken away in front of his son


Exit Ticket: Paragraph response on theme of emasculation in “Barn Burning” and the connection to Reconstruction.

Lesson two: (Two Days) End of Slavery: Analyzing the Needs of the African Americans

Lesson Goals:

Students will be able to:

  1. Analyze the needs of the African American community during Reconstruction.
  1. Determine through group work how they would allocate federal funds to newly freedmen.


Necessity: Something essential


Do Now: List as many basic necessities people need to live well.

Pre-class: Look at the picture on page 393 of former slaves assembled in a village. In your notebook brainstorm what you think the newly Freedmen would need now that they are free.


Students will create an organization that will be providing for the nearly 4 million newly freed African Americans with the basic necessities to survive. They will be allocated a budget of 20 million dollars, and determine as a team what areas to spend their money. They will be given charts of population by region, and determine how many staff their organization would need to run effectively. The team must agree by group consensus on how to spend their budget. They will present their findings to class the next day with charts and must defend their positions to the rest of the class.

Lesson Three: Freedmen’s Bureau (Graphic Organizer Included at the end of the unit)

Lesson Goals:

Students will be able to

  1. Understand and evaluate the purpose of the Freedmen’s Bureau.
  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Freedmen’s Bureau
  2. Explain the concept of the Reconstruction

After students have completed their essays and group work they will be prepared to study the Freedmen’s Bureau and the need for such an agency. Using the text book, students should accomplish the three objectives aforementioned.


Do Now: Why is the time period after the Civil War called the Reconstruction Era? List at least 3 aspects of American that were being “reconstructed” during the 1860’s.


Students will view and take notes on a Power-point of the Freedmen’s Bureau. During this time they will be able to compare and contrast how they allocated their federal budget versus how the Bureau’s budget was actually spent. Read pg. 394-399 and fill out Graphic Organizer.

Lesson Four: (two days) End of Slavery: Analyzing the Needs of the African Americans

Lesson Goals:

Students will be able to:

  1. Write a one page letter defending and solving the most urgent need for newly freed blacks.


The needs of newly freed African Americans were great. Instead of having students read from a text to learn about the needs of African Americans, get students to think critically about the concerns. Start the lesson out by writing the following on the board: “You have just learned that you are free. Union troops visited your plantation to notify you of your freedom effective two weeks ago. Your former master, though tearful, has told you that you must leave his plantation for he no longer has a right to keep you.” Allow students to do a 60 -second quick-write describing their feelings and next steps. Some plausible answers are happiness, disbelief, sadness, bewilderment, and fear. Possible next steps are to go North, to find family members and or to stay on the plantation. Have students share their responses to the class. Challenge students on the resources necessary and rationale for decisions and feelings.


Before students read through text the text, have them brainstorm five needs that African Americans would have had after being freed. Write those issues on the board. Do a whip-around for each student to list the least and most important need listed. Once all students have been heard, break students off into groups of four. Hand out a problem-solution-result graphic organizer to students. Have students break off into groups of three to decide on the most important need as they see it. Give students the opportunity to fill out the problem-solution -result organizer with their peers. Circulate around the room and check for student understanding. After students are finished with the graphic organizer, tell them that they will be writing a one page letter to other freed people’s regarding their specific concern. Not only will they define the need (problem) they should propose a solution as well as the results of the solution. You may want to model a short letter for students who are struggling,

Closure: Have students peer review each other’s. Post proficient work. Read assigned text and compare student and book determined needs.

Lesson Five: The Black Codes Worksheets are available at the end of the unit.

Lesson Goals:

Students will be able to:

  1. Determine the motivation behind Southern Democrats enacting Black Codes, and the difference in extremity depending on location.

Do Now: List as many ways you can think of that African Americans were oppressed in their day-to-day life.

Pre-Class: Go over the do now, and explain Black Codes.

Activity: Students will break up into 6 groups of 4. Each group will have 4 articles in a folder as well as the black codes of a certain state. In addition students will have a Black Code Graphic Organizer.

The students be assigned one of the four articles on Black Codes based on their reading ability. They will then fill out the front part of the worksheet alone, then share out their findings with their group.

After completing the front worksheets, students will choose three codes from their assigned states and fill out the back of the worksheet.

Groups will share with class their finding for their states, so as a class we can determine regional differences in the stringency of black codes.

Lesson Six: The Black Church and “Other-worldly” Orientation as a Coping Mechanism for Blacks during Reconstruction (two days)

Lesson Goals:

Students will be able to:

  1. Analyze the role of the Black Church as inspiration or opiate by reading two essays (teacher’s choice)
  1. Write a one page reflection on the Black Church’s role.

Lesson Seven: The Black Church as a coping mechanism for Blacks (four days)

Lesson Goals:

  1. Students will be able to explicate two Negro Spirituals for theme of ‘other worldly orientation’
  2. Guided notes for the two essays
  3. Write one page reaction to one of the essays
  4. Compete a one page explication on one of the Negro Spirituals studied in class.
  5. Complete graphic organizers for each spiritual studied

Definitions: Other worldly orientation- the tradition in the Black Church that focuses on the “next” life as a way of coping with the social ills of the current life



Perhaps no other institution has helped to shape the lives and experiences of blacks in America more than the Black Church. The Black church has been called an ‘all comprehending’ institution by E. Franklin Frazier to describe its encompassing role in the community. The Black Church has been viewed as everything from a “safe space” for its people to lay their burdens down to an opiate for the masses of black folks to sit quietly and wait for their space in heaven. No matter what one’s critique of the church is, its role in the Black community cannot be overstated. Black churches were responsible for founding other Black churches, schools, colleges, and social networks where none previously existed. The Church played a role in helping blacks to cope with the immense strife in their lives. When segregation and Jim Crow prevailed, it was only in the Black Church, where blacks were permitted to assume roles of authority and dignity. Today, the Black Church still plays a significant role in the community although it has been criticized for its inaction to deal with controversial issues like the AIDS epidemic throughout the African American community.

Lesson Eight:

Goals: Students will be able to:

  1. Complete poetry graphic organizer for Negro Spiritual “City Called Heaven” and “This Little Light of Mine”

Access prior knowledge by asking students to list three concepts that they associate with the “Black Church.” Review responses and write them on board. Explain to students that their responses help show how pervasive the Blacks church is in culture. Read aloud a short introductory on Black church and check for student understanding. Hand out various articles differentiated for low, emerging, and advanced readers. Allow students to read essays aloud in their respective groups using highlighters and QNT charts. Check for student comprehension and progress, paying special attention to emerging readers. Have students write summaries on the role of the Black Church during Reconstruction and present their findings to the class. Collect student responses and post for duration of unit.

Part Two: (day two)

Make student connection by asking students “List a song that helps you calm down.” Begin by passing out poetry graphic organizer. Explain how today you will be examining Negro spirituals and their role in helping Blacks to cope during Reconstruction. Begin with “City Called Heaven”. Play the song which can be downloaded in many forms to appeal to auditory learners. Use poetry graphic organizer to highlight applicable literary devices. Draw attention to the ‘other-worldly’ orientation of the Spiritual and how it provided solace for Blacks in trying times.

Part Three:

Have students create a three part thesis statement on one of the songs studied thus far. Hand out graphic organizer for optional use in order to scaffold for struggling readers. Students should then construct a one-page formal explication to substantiate their claim.


Have students evaluate the power of the Spiritual by filling out an exit ticket.

Lesson Nine: (two days)

Lesson Goals: Students will be able to:

Analyze two spirituals and the symbol of water in differentiated groups by completing poetry graphic organizer and making mini presentations to the class.


Introduce concept of symbol to class. Ask class to list some symbols in everyday life (possible student answers: cross for Christianity, Star of David for Judaism, heart for love). Explain that throughout history, many symbols have developed across cultures. Group students based on ability.

Hand out chart pper and poetry graphic organizer and CDs with songs. Inform students that they will be examining the symbol of water in Negro Spirituals. Recap uses of music for blacks during the Reconstruction era. Instruct students to listen to each of the spirituals while reading along with the lyrics. Students should then pick one of the songs to analyze by using poetry graphic organizer. After students are finished with poetry graphic organizer, ask them to make a claim about what the water represents and to record it on chart paper. Students should then give supporting details from the text to substantiate their claim. After students are finished, give each student the opportunity to report findings out to the class. Wrap up the lesson by summarizing student findings.

Emerging Readers:” I’m a-Rollin” and “Down By the Riverside”

On Level Readers: “Been in the Storm so Long” “God’s a-Gonna Trouble the Water”

Advanced Readers: “Walk together Children” “Soon I Will Be Done”

Lesson 10: (Five Days): Culminating Activity- Reconstruction News Project Rubric and handouts are included at the end of the unit. Lesson Goals:

Students will be able to:

  1. Use their knowledge of the unit to create a news show highlighting different elements of Reconstruction.

This lesson should be used as a capstone project for the unit. Consider a cooperative program that contains a publishable component.


Students will be broken up into small groups of five to research different elements of the Reconstruction Era. They will spend three days researching their topic, writing a script, and setting up a news “set” for their newscast. On day four, they will record themselves on a video camera. Day five will be spend watching every group’s film, and the students will peer-grade with a rubric.

Annotated Bibliography/ Resources

Bruce, Henry Clay (1895). The New Man, Henry Clay Bruce: Twenty-Nine Years a Slave.

Twenty-Nine Years a Free Man. York: Anstad and Sons.

A revealing slave memoir.

Douglass, Fredrick (1865, rep. 2008). “Speech to the American Anti-Slavery Society, 1865,” in Primary Source: Documents in U.S. History, Vol. 11, 17-5, NY, NY: Prentice Hall.

Probably America’s greatest anti-slavery orator speaking on the challenges of emancipation.

Du Bois, W.E.B. (1901).”The Freedmen’s Bureau.” Atlantic Monthly, 87, 354-365.

An early study of the agency that was the centerpiece of Reconstruction by the scholar who is arguably the era’s greatest scholarly analyst.

Du Bois, W.E.B. (1935). Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880. NY, NY: Free Press.

This book is a must have for teachers of the Reconstruction Era. Although it was written in 1935, Du Bois’ research was truly ahead of its time. The book is broken up into chapters which each focus on a different (yet intertwined) facet of the Reconstruction. Use this book as a quick reference to get more in depth info on topics that come up in class from the founding of public schools to the transubstantiation of a poor white. As always, Du Bois is articulate and thorough.

Dunning, William (1907). The American Nation. New York and London: Harper and Borthers.

I came across this source after reading Foner’s Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877. Foner uses the work of Dunning and Burgess to illustrate the conventional wisdom of the time immediately following Reconstruction.

Foner, Eric (2002). Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. NY, NY: First Perennial Classics.

This book is another must have for teachers of the Reconstruction Era. Foner has several important themes to his work, among them racial attitudes and patterns of race relations and the interconnection of race and class in the post war South and the emergence of a national state which redefined what it meant to be an American. Both of these tropes woven throughout his work will make for high interest in abstract concepts for students.

Hyman, Harold (1967). The Radical Republicans and Reconstruction, 1861-1870. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.

Excellent historical treatment of the Radical Republicans.

Litwack, Leon F. (1979). Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery. NY, NY: Knopf.

One of the best accounts of the struggles of African-Americans after slavery’s end.

McKay, Claude (Ed.) (2004). ”If We Must Die.” The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated, 1007-007

This poem (which can be found online) is timeless and easy to access. Readers of all levels can benefit from reading the poem and hearing its audio version.

Washington, Booker T. (1895). Speech to the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition.

Atlanta, GA, online at

There is no better primary document to teach students than Washington’s speeches. Washington transcends the kneejerk reaction to classify him as solely a person who lobbied for vocational training. Be sure to explore the ways in which Washington was revolutionary and the ways in which his tactics translated into safety for countless Blacks.

Woodward, C. Vann (1974). The Strange Career of Jim Crow, 3rd ed. NY, NY: Oxford University Press.

Use this work as a reference for lessons on the Black codes and beyond. The format is a bit inaccessible, but, it is good to have.

  • Dunning, William (1097). The American Nation. New York and London: Harper and Brothers.
  • Du Bois, W.E.B. (1935). Black Reconstruction in America 1860‐1880. NY, NY: Free Press.
  • Foner, Eric (2002). Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863‐1877. NY, NY: First Perennial Classs.
  • Bowers, Claude G. (1929). The Tragic Era: The Revolution After Lincoln. Cambridge, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Beale , Howard (1930). The Critical Year: A Study of Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction .NY, NY: Harcourt
  • Litwack, Leon F. (1979). Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery. NY, NY: Knopf.
  • Woodward, C. Vann (1974). The Strange Career of Jim Crow, 3rd ed. NY, NY: Oxford University Press.


Name Date
African American History Period
Freedmen’s Bureau Graphic Organizer  

In 1865, Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freemen, and Abandoned Lands, commonly called the _______________________________________.

Ex-Slaves needed assistance with:






Challenges of the bureau:


Success within the bureau:





Take away points on Southern Homestead Act:




Take away points on Sharecropping



On page 396 read the speech written by Charles Soule with a partner. Answer the following questions.

According to Soule, what are the differences between slavery and freedom?














Does freedom mean the freed people will have economic opportunities to those of white people?












How should freed people have responded to Soule’s advice?


















African American History/English






Flow Chart for Black Codes


What was the Black


Codes? (Define)






Where were they








Why were they


created? What was

the purpose of

establishing black




When were they

brought about?



What were 6 examples of black codes?















  1. What did black codes mean for African Americans?







In the following flow chart, evaluate three black codes from the state your group was assigned. Fill in the chart below and be prepared to share your findings with the class.




Code 1 Code 2 Code 3


What did this black


code entail?












What restrictions did it place on African Americans?



Why was this type of restriction chosen?



What effect did it have on blacks?

Reconstruction News Project

The period of time from the end of the Civil War until approximately 1900 was a period of much change for Americans and African Americans in particular. African Americans saw an increase in freedoms and privileges after the Civil War while Reconstruction was in progress. However, after Radical Reconstruction ended in the late 1870s, they experienced an erosion of their newly found freedoms and rights. In addition, anti‐black groups such as the KKK emerged and became more prevalent. With the decision in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, much of the gains, which occurred during the reconstruction process, were now lost or severely limited.

We will break up into three groups. Each group will be responsible for creating a news show covering spcific topics. They will research their topics and create a script and film their news show. Each group will be responsible for putting on a newscast or a news documentary focusing on the increase and decrease in freedoms and rights of African Americans from 1865‐1900.

Students may want to add time‐appropriate commercials to their news shows. Two or three commercials would be appropriate.

There will be three groups in this project. Their topics are as follows:

Group I 1865‐1867 Group II 1877‐1896 Group III 1896
How did Reconstruction How did the end of How did the case of Plessy v.
improve the lives of African Reconstruction lead the Ferguson effect the freedom
Americans and their gradual erosion of freedom and rights of African  
Freedom?   and rights of African Americans..  
Freedmen’s Bureau KKK   ‐   Plessy v. Ferguson
14th Amendment ‐   Amnesty Act of 1872    
15th Amendment The end of    
Black Codes   Reconstruction    
‐   AA in public and Tenant Farmers    
  political life Sharecroppers    
Radical   Poll Taxes      
  Reconstruction Literacy Test    
Northern Volunteers Grandfather Clause    
  held ex‐slaves Jim Crow Laws    

How do we go about starting this project?

  1. Search and gather information on your topic


  1. One simple way to do this to do a google search on your topic.


  1. com, and other sites will be given to you


  1. Read through the information and take notes/highlights important details


  1. Decide what information is imperative (very very important) for your groups to know.


  1. Put information into categories if necessary so it will be organized and easy to read.


  1. Put your information into your own words. Do not copy information; that is plagiarism.


Guidelines for Research/ Paper


  • Every group will be covering at least three major news stories.


  • Each news story must have a title which explains the subject of the story


  • Each story must have 10 facts from the time period from various sources on the internet.


  • Each story must be written in a Word document in addition to being filmed.


  • Every group member must be involved in the research and writing of at least one news story.


  • Each story should have the names of ever person who was involved in the writing and research written on the top right side of the paper


Guideline for Newscast


  • There must be a newscaster who announces each of the three stories and gives a preview of what they are talking about


  • Everything recorded must also be written in a document which will be graded


  • The news stories much be spoken in professional English, You must sound like a newscaster


  • There must be a clear introduction, body, and conclusion to each story


  • There must be a clear ending to your news show, given by your announcer


Websites: There are many more if you search the internet, but to help you get started…


  • Group 1‐bin/page.cgi/jb/recon


  • Group 1


  • Group 1 and 2


  • Group 1









Break Down of the Week!


Monday‐ Introduction to Project and Research Day I


‐You will finish all necessary work to begin your project


‐Any student who does not have email will need to set up an email account today.


  • Any student who does not know how to work Microsoft work will have to become familiar with it today. (help each other out!)


  • You will meet as a group and discuss the topic which you are assigned.


‐You will research the areas which you can write your stories on.


‐Each group is responsible for three news stories in one big news show. During this time you can research the internet for the three stories you will choose. Read as much as you can from various sources on your topic today.


Tuesday­ Research Day II/ Begin Script Writing


  • You will break off into three mini‐groups to research and write your three new stories.


  • In your mini‐groups you will choose a story that is interesting to you, and begin gathering all the important information
  • You will make an out line of your news show




  • Today you will write the final draft of your news show. Each story should be at least 2 minutes long


  • All team members will work together to write the final draft for their shows.


  • Assign task to group members, you will need‐ news castors, announcers, set design, and draft editor for the show.


  • If there is extra time, or someone who has no role, they can create commercial advertisements relevant to the era for extra credit for the group.


  • Final drafts must be emailed to Ms. Gehring today so I can print them out and have them ready for filming.


Thursday­ Filming Day!


  • Students will do finishing touches on their sets and scripts, then film their show.


Friday‐ Viewing of all projects/ Peer Grading




This project is worth 200 points.


Film Quality: 50% ‐ You can refer to the rubric below to understand what I am looking for


Essay Quality: 30%‐ While a poorly written essay will reflect in your film, I am also grading the text as an essay. It must be written in a scholarly manner, reflecting the depth of understanding you have on your topic.


Peer Review: 20%‐ We will be showing the films to our classmates on Friday and grading them based on the same rubric below.


You will be graded on the following:

  A B
News Show The show is recorded Show is choppy and
has a flow to with great ease and not filmed well. Can
it flows from cut to cut. not hear the
Show has a There is a clear The show has an
clear beginning that intro and conclusion
introduction introduces the show, but they are not
and and a clear summary clear.
conclusion at the end.  
New show is The entire show The show spends
informative teaches the audience 85% of the time
  about the time period teaching the
  in a clear manner audience information
    about the time period
Commercials, Reflect accurately the Reflect time period
if used reflect time period in an accurately, but
the effective and uninteresting
appropriate interesting way  
time era    
Script is well One or less Three or less spelling
written/ spelling/grammatical or grammatical
Grammar error errors



There is no clear flow of where the show is going.


There is only a intro or conclusion, but not both.



Only 75% of the show is informative.



Uninteresting and poorly represent the time period



Five or less spelling or grammatical errors




I have no idea what is going on.



There is no introduction or conclusion.



50% or less of the show is informative.



Historically inaccurate



6 or more spelling or grammatical errors




‐Clearly attends to audience through good eye contact and gestures.


  • Speaks audibly with expression; uses pacing and intonation effectively


‐Attends to audience through eye contact and gestures.


  • Speaks audibly with expression; attempts to use pacing


and intonation.

‐Exhibits some awareness of audience eye contact or gestures. ‐ Speaks too


softly or loudly with little or no expression; little evidence of pacing.


‐Exhibits little awareness of audience.


  • Speaks too softly or loudly gives no evidence of pacing or intonation.



The Core Curriculum of the School District of Philadelphia is aligned to the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for History and Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The standards cover a great deal of both disciplines but for the purpose of this unit, we will be focusing primarily on:

PA Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking

1.1        Learning to Read Independently

  1. Locate various texts, media, and tradition al resources
  2. Analyze the structure of informational texts
  3. Identify, describe, evaluate and synthesize the essential ideas in a text

1.2        Reading Critically in All Content Areas

  1. Read and understand essential content of informational text and ideas
  2. Produce work in at least one literary genre that follows the conventions of that genre

1.3        Reading, Analyzing, and Interpreting Literature

  1. Read and understand works of literature

1.4    Types of Writing

  1. Write complex informational pieces

1.5    Quality of Writing

  1. Write with a sharp distinct focus
  2. Write using well developed content appropriate for the topic

PA Standards for History

8.1        Historical Analysis and Skill Development A. Chronological Thinking

  1. Historical Comprehension
  2. Historical Interpretation
  3. Historical Research

8.3        United States History

  1. Contributions of Individuals and Groups
  2. Documents, Artifacts and Historical Places
  3. Influences of Continuity and Change
  4. Conflict and Cooperation among Groups