Bringing the War to an End: Traditional Middle School Lesson Plan

Grades: Middle School      

Approximate Length of Time: 90 minutes

Goal: Students will be able to summarize and explain the sequence and significance of events that led to the end of the Civil War.


  1. Students will develop a hypothesis to a major question and then review their ideas through the research process.
  2. After receiving information on the election of 1864, students will discuss both Lincoln and McClellan’s views on the war and plans for the nation’s future.
  3. Students will be able to create a timeline and map illustrating the sequence of events leading to the end of the war.
  4. Students will summarize the Articles of Agreement from the Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
  5. Students will detail how the war came to its final conclusion.

Common Core:

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g. loaded language, inclusion or avoidance or particular facts).  

Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

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
10—Civics, Ideals, and Practices


  1. Bringing the War to an End PowerPoint. There are video links throughout the Power Point that will need to be queued-up ahead of time.
  2. Timeline Worksheet and Map
  3. Lincoln & McClellan Cards
  4. Chicago Platform
  5. Baltimore Platform
  6. What Do You Think? Notes Sheet
  7. What Do You Think Moderator Questions
  8. The Last Salute of the Army of Northern Virginia
  9. Articles of Agreement
  10. Articles of Agreement Teacher Version

Anticipatory Set/Hook:

Throughout the lesson, follow the Bringing the War to an End PowerPoint.

  • The PowerPoint will provide prompts for when to do the activities.
  • There are online videos referred to in the PowerPoint that should be queued ahead of time.
  • There may be words, locations, or people that the students do not know mentioned throughout the lesson. Let them know that this is a normal part of learning history and like all historians, they should identify what they don’t know and do a bit of research to gain insight (most times this research can be done in a few minutes).
  1. Begin the Power Point – slide one will provide the setting for this point in the war.
  2. Hypothesize together: Based on what you know about the war so far, what do you think it will take to bring the war to an end?


Activity 1

  1. Continue to follow Bringing the War to an End PowerPoint.
  2. Hand out the Timeline Worksheet and Map, copied back to back.
  3. Have students complete the Timeline Worksheet and Map.

Activity 2

  1. Hand out the Lincoln & McClellan Cards to students; try to have the same number of Lincolns and McClellans.
  2. Hand out the Baltimore Platform and Chicago Platform.
  3. Have the students review the platforms, paying particular attention to the bolded text. Students can work independently, in groups, or you can work as a class –This activity is asking them to work with primary sources and they may need more or less guidance based on their experience.
  4. Place all of the Lincolns in one group and all of the McClellans in another.
  5. Hand out the What Do You Think? Notes Sheet, and have students work together to gather their ideas for a debate, filling out the note sheet as they go.
  6. Begin the debate using the What Do You Think Moderator Questions.

Activity 3

  1. As a class, read the The Last Salute of the Army of Northern Virginia and Articles of Agreement, answering the provided guiding questions.


  1. Address the final question. Students can compare to their own or the class hypothesis. You can either discuss as a group or have the students create a written response.
  2. Discuss the Why Does this Matter questions in the final slide.

Assessment in this Lesson:

  1. Completed timeline, map, and map question on the Timeline Worksheet & Map.
  2. Completed What Do You Think? Notes Sheet, with answers based on the platform reading.
  3. Informal assessment through observation of group debate.
  4. Notes and responses on The Last Salute of the Army of Northern Virginia and Articles of Agreement.
  5. Oral or written response to final question.
  6. Oral response to the final questions, Why Does this Matter?