Legislative Branch

Reviewing the Civil War and Reconstruction


In this lesson students will analyze primary sources to review major issues related to the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Civil Rights.


Students develop critical thinking skills by analyzing primary sources representing major issues of the Civil War and Reconstruction Era.

Guiding Question

How did the Civil War and Reconstruction change the Constitution and civil rights?


4 Graphic Organizers
12 Primary Source Sheets
Reflection Question Worksheet

Recommended Grade Levels

9 - 12


U.S. History


Causes of the Civil War, Turning points in the Civil War, Reconstruction, Civil Rights

Time Required

Two forty-five minute class periods.

Learning Activities

Preparing the Materials

  1. Print for each student copies of the Graphic Organizers (1 - 4) and the Reflection Questions.
  2. Establish four stations, one for each page of the Graphic Organizers.
  3. Make one additional copy of each Graphic Organizer for each station.
  4. Make one copy of the Primary Source Sheets and cut along the dotted lines of each sheet. Keep each primary source, caption, and description together with a paperclip.
  5. Place a copy of each Graphic Organizer and the corresponding cut-out Primary Source Sheets at each station. Mix up the primary sources, captions, and descriptions at the station so that students must match the ideas together.  

Classroom Activity

  1. Divide the students into four groups.
  2. Carousel the groups through the four stations.
  3. Provide each group with enough time at each station for students to:
    1. Match each primary source to the reading and summarize the text on their individual Graphic Organizer.
    2. Match the appropriate caption to the primary source (the reading will help provide scaffolded support) and write the caption on their individual Graphic Organizer.
    3. Explain how the primary source matches the caption on their individual Graphic Organizer.

Reflection Activity

  1. When the students have completed their work at all four stations, instruct students to independently complete the Reflection Questions Worksheet and prepare to share their responses with the full class.
  2. Have a whole group discussion of the Reflection Questions.

Additional Resources

Was Reconstruction a Revolution? - Students will examine several historical congressional records from the Reconstruction period to assess whether the documents show evidence that the Reconstruction period of American history should or should not be viewed as a revolution.

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