I used Reconstructing the South in my American History 2 class because I wanted my students to understand the ramifications of slavery and how that played out during Reconstruction. The only way they really grasped the concept of Reconstruction was through this role play. Although it’s a stretch to get them to empathize with others who aren’t like them, and from a different time period, I find it imperative that they continue to try.
One thing that helped my students truly comprehend what the Reconstruction period was like for African American women and men was the background history. It was short enough for struggling readers, but provided plenty of information. Also, I liked the handouts that stated the situations and arguments that various groups in South was grappling with. That arguments allowed students to know exactly how people during that period justified their actions. They really got into playing out those scenarios. The most important part of the lesson, though, was the questions that asked how students would respond to those same scenarios.