My 8th grade U.S. history students were engaged in their roles and, later, more engaged than ever before in finding out what choices were actually made during the years following the Civil War. As we compared and contrasted solutions they had proposed with what really happened, they were able to better understand the cause-and-effect that led to the need for the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s and to the racial tension and struggles that continue in the U.S. today. They could see how things might have turned out differently, if only different decisions were made in the past.
I think the real power in this lesson, though, is in the impact it will have on the future. Having analyzed how decisions made 150 years ago still impact us today, my students are more likely to be purposeful and thoughtful in their own civic involvement as they move forward toward and through adulthood.
Thanks for the great lesson!