Reconstructing the South is an excellently planned role play — the questions and the sources really got students engaged in the moment of possibility around Reconstruction, rather than looking back on history as “an important lesson” but one that was predestined to turn out specific way. Students of all skill levels were hotly debating these issues, and were eagerly citing evidence to support their positions. One group of students went so far as to calculate a daily wage for freedmen and women to be paid if they agree to farm part of their land with cash crops for the government, and then attempted to convert the amount into its 1875 equivalent!
Students tied the activity into the next part of our unit around change into the Civil Rights Era, and studied the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Claudette Colvin, and now are engaged in the Black Panther Party. The activity really helped me as a teacher (still in my first year!) think about what makes awesome historical thinking questions that center the counter-narratives in American History. Awesome resource and I highly recommend to teachers. The only thing I feel could be improved is some suggested scaffolds for language learners in terms of the source documents.