1862: Antietam and Emancipation: Traditional High School Lesson Plan

Grades: High School

Approximate Length of Time: 50 minutes

Goal: Students will analyze the meaning and impact of the Emancipation Proclamation.


  1. Students will be able to discuss the political and military conditions that led to the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.
  2. After reading the document, students will be able to summarize, in writing, the meaning of the Emancipation Proclamation.
  3. After reading reactions to the Proclamation, students will be able to discuss the different attitudes and viewpoints that people had towards the Emancipation Proclamation.

Common Core Standards:

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

NCSS Standards for Social Studies:

2—Time, Continuity, and Change
3—People, Places, and Environment
5—Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
6—Power, Authority, and Governance
9—Global Connections
10—Civics, Ideals, and Practices


  1. Sticky Notes
  2. Antietam and Emancipation PowerPoint
  3. Timeline
  4. Graphic Organizer
  5. Battle of Antietam Summary
  6. Emancipation Proclamation Analysis Sheet
  7. Emancipation Proclamation Analysis Sheet Teacher Version
  8. Quiz – online at https://www.battlefields.org/learn/quizzes/how-well-do-you-know-emancipation-proclamation
  9. Quiz – online at https://www.battlefields.org/learn/quizzes/african-americans-civil-war-history
  10. Optional Quiz – online at https://www.battlefields.org/learn/quizzes/how-well-do-you-know-abraham-lincoln
  11. The Public Reacts
  12. Optional – Antietam and Emancipation Essay by Daniel Welch


  1. Write on the board: "What does 'emancipation' mean?"
  2. As students enter the room, they will pick up a sticky note and write their answer on it.
  3. Talk about why this might be an important word to consider during their study of the Civil War.


Print out the PowerPoint with notes prior to class. There are notes included with the slides that can be on the printed slides, but won’t be seen by your students during the presentation.

Activity 1

  1. Use the Antietam and Emancipation PowerPoint to guide the lesson.
    1. Hand out the Timeline, Graphic Organizer, Battle of Antietam Summary, Emancipation Proclamation Analysis Sheet and The Public Reacts.
    2. Have students use the Graphic Organizer throughout the PowerPoint, the other pages will be referred to in the PowerPoint for activities.
    3. The Quiz is mentioned in the PowerPoint.


Students will complete the essay question.

Assessment in This Lesson:

  1. Informal assessment through discussion questions within PowerPoint.
  2. Completed Emancipation Analysis sheet; students will complete the associated questions, noting when the Proclamation went into effect and under which conditions slaves were freed.
  3. Completion of the questions in The Public Reacts; students will discuss the different attitudes and viewpoints that people had towards the Emancipation Proclamation.
  4. A complete final essay with quotes from primary sources such as the Emancipation Proclamation and the public reaction quotes.