Donna Kimelman

Reconstructing the South: A Role Play engages students in critical thinking by recalling their prior knowledge about slavery and then to imagine what it is like to suddenly be free, yet to not have anything of your own, including your family who may have been sold and separated from you.

The questions and arguments allowed the students to deep dive into the curriculum, starting some heated conversations. I had students say things like, “I would never let that happen to me. I’d fight back, I’d just take the land and kill the soldiers.” I would patiently explain that it is not that easy, that life conditions us to accept the conditions we have and yet use our powers and our words and our circumstances to try and better ourselves.

My students sourced and analyzed the documents that we used in “The Promised Land” and then I led a Socratic Seminar using some of the Discussion/Writing Questions provided at the end of the lesson. The students got a lot out of the assignment, by reading and discussion Reconstruction from different viewpoints.