Thursday, April 28, 2011

Curriculum Resource: Reconstruction

As I said earlier this week, teaching about the Civil War is tough for us.  It is also hard to teach about Reconstruction, which was another non-stellar point in our history.  However, in some ways Reconstruction is even harder because of the paucity of resources, especially compared to all the stuff that is available for the Civil War.

Here are some of the curriculum resources we found useful in covering the Reconstruction with our middle schoolers:

A History of US:  Reconstruction and Reform 1865-1870 by Joy Hakim is a great overview of the specific time of the Reconstruction.  This is a good book for middle schoolers.

Reconstruction and the Rise of Jim Crow  1864-1896 by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier.  This one covers a longer time span and is at a bit higher level, so it would probably be appropriate for high school as well as middle schoolers.

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.:  The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.  This is an excellent book that I reviewed last year when it came out; you can read the full review here.  But the short version is that the book describes the evolution of the Ku Klux Klan from its earliest days as sort of a informal frat for ex-Confederates trying to feel better about their defeat to the powerful hate organization it was up through the 1960s, told mostly from first-hand reports.  It is appropriate to both middle and high schoolers.

Black Voices from Reconstruction 1865-1877 by John David Smith.  While not as engaging as the previous book, this one also contains personal and first-hand sources and covers some broader subjects of the time than were left out of the KKK book.  Again, this could be used by middle and higher schoolers.

Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule by Harriette Gillem Robinet.  A bit different from the previous titled, this is a fictionalized account of what life might have been like for a small group of freed African Americans, written by an author whose ancestors had been slaves of Robert E. Lee's.    This is a middle school level book.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow is the website for an award-winning educational documentary series that explores segregation from Reconstruction through the modern Civil Rights movement.  I haven't seen the videos themselves, but they sound like they would be really good to watch.  However, on the website, you can view a timeline of major events from Reconstruction up to the mid-20th Century, interact with maps and other online resources, read the stories of some significant black leaders from the Reconstruction on, and access lesson plans for both middle school and high school grades.

As always, if someone has some other good resources to add to this list, please put them in the comments below.

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