I’m a new teacher and this is the first time I am teaching Reconstruction. I was unsure how it would go, but I love using materials that allow students to engage with the content. I decided to use this as an introduction to Reconstruction and overall, I think it went pretty well. I broke it down to two days: day one was some background notes and writing the monologue; however, I did modify it to be a diary entry or a letter to a relative instead. Day two was scheduled on a block (90 mins) which worked out great! I divided my class into two groups and held the debate in a “socratic” circle with one group as the inner circle and the other group, the outer circle. Since I have a large class and a small classroom, I figured this would be the best way for all students to speak and be heard.
The debate went really well for my 5th period since they knew how to use the material to role play a bit more than my 6th period. Some students led the discussion more than others, but all students got a chance to speak. I also held them accountable for participating by taking notes. One student said, “Although it’s the right thing for us folks, it would be political suicide to claim all the lands as our own.” Another student compared trying Confederate leaders for their war crimes to how the Nazi officers were treated. (Great historic comparison!) 6th period has a higher percentage of ELLs so it was difficult to differentiate this activity for them. However, most of them were able to still participate when encouraged to do so. As a closure, they completed the reflection questions and I also stated that even though they had a great debate, their voices as Freedpeople weren’t really considered in reality. I’m hoping that left an impact on students and I can refer to that once we talk about the Civil Rights Movement.