Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Reconstruction: Visible Consciousness

It always seems like I gloss over Reconstruction, hitting the main points and never doing much more than a vocabulary lesson. This year, it was time to dig deeper.

Evaluate the success or failure of the Reconstruction plans.  

The first task was to read about the three plans and make notes. Students were numbered one or two to determine who was going to use the book and who would use their own device. Even though we have Chromebooks for everyone, it's important to vary the tools students use to complete tasks. I want them to be comfortable with a variety of resources.

DBQ Practice 
A short set of four documents and a background essay were analyzed to practice analyzing for point of view and grouping / labeling documents. The group labels were then used to formulate thesis statements that were written on index cards and tacked to the wall. We could have used digital technology for the thesis statements, but I wanted to change it up. Plus, paper is visible and becomes a symbolic of the work we are doing.  

Study Vocabulary

Stream of consciousness Activity

Writing is only going to get better if you do it. One of my favorite ways to teach writing is through stream of consciousness. It's messy. It's riddled with mistakes. It has many learning opportunities.

Students were able to spend 5 minutes (timed) reviewing their research on the Reconstruction plans and the Quizlet deck. Then, they had to write for 12 minutes (with the timer visible) without stopping. I told them that the goal was to write every word that comes to mind in as close to an essay format as possible.

When they finished writing, we talked about what it was like to write everything on their mind. We ask questions about how this time was different than others (if this is not the first time doing it).

Then, the students underlined all of the descriptions relevant to the lesson goal, circled all of the analysis points, and starred the specific examples. The purpose of this part was to practice identifying the difference between descriptions and recalling facts and actually analyzing the evidence and formulating a substantive argument.    

Reconstruction Slide Discussion

The closing discussion started with a look at a few of the thesis statements the students wrote after the DBQ activity.

This thesis focuses on the negative effects of Reconstruction. It uses white supremacy as a theme to categorize the documents.  

This thesis focuses on the positive effects of Reconstruction. It highlights the step forward our country makes as black males were allowed to hold office. 

This thesis is conflicted. Although it talks about both the positive and negative effects, it does not choose a side. Avoid using the word "but." Arguments are stronger when they take a stand on one side of the issue or the other. 

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