I have been teaching 7th grade history (supposed to be from Jamestown to Reconstruction) for five years. Every year, 7th grade teachers would run out of time and would end with the Civil War. The students would leave thinking, “Hooray! The Union won! Slaves are free! Life is perfect!” They would start 8th grade after Reconstruction — so our students completely missed one of the most important eras of history that still impacts our world today.
I made it my mission to teach Reconstruction.
I found the Zinn Education Project website and the lesson plan Reconstructing the South. From the clear lesson plan, my students were able to empathize and understand the experiences of the freed people during Reconstruction.