Effects of War: Traditional Middle School Lesson Plan

Grades: Middle School

Approximate Length of Time: 50 minutes

Goal: Students will identify and discuss the effects of the American Civil War.


  1. Students will be able to list and summarize the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.
  2. Students will be able to discuss John Wilkes Booth’s reasons for assassinating President Lincoln.
  3. Students will be able to define the term “reconstruction” and discuss the various ideas on reunification.
  4. Students will be able to discuss the idea of liberty and the challenges facing the nation after the war as well as today.

Common Core:

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

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

Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible 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
10—Civics, Ideals, and Practices


  1. U.S. Constitutional Amendments Prior to 1864
  2. Entrance Pass
  3. U.S. Constitutional Amendments, 1870
  4. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments
  5. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments Teacher Version
  6. Booth’s Original Plan
  7. Reconstruction PowerPoint
  8. Reconstruction Cards
  9. Reconstruction Cards Teacher Version

Anticipatory Set/Hook:

  1. Provide students with a copy of the US Constitutional Amendments Prior to 1864 and the Entrance Pass.
  2. Have students read their Entrance Pass first and quickly skim each Amendment.
  3. Ask students to share their answers in the Entrance Pass upon completing the assignment.


Activity 1

  1. Discuss with your students the fact that before the Civil War there was no:
    1. Protection against enslaving people or forced labor
    2. Definition of citizenship
  2. Hand out the U.S .Constitutional Amendments, 1870.
  3. Read the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments as a class, discussing them in the context of this time in American history.
  4. Hand out and have the students complete the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments independently.

Activity 2

  1. Hand out a copy of Booth’s Original Plan to each student.  Read the timelines together as a class. 
  2. Have students complete the questions independently.

Activity 3

  1. Present the Reconstruction PowerPoint, providing a copy or notes copy to each student. Stop before the last slide, the 4 minute video.
  2. Hand out the Student Reconstruction Cards; have them complete the sheet, placing the cards in the correct categories.


Watch the last slide – the Reconstruction In4 video. At the end of the video the historian states, “The period of formal Reconstruction came to a close even as struggles to redraw the boundaries of freedom continued. Those struggles continue today.” What does this mean? What struggles did the nation face after the war and what do we face as a nation today when we think about freedoms and liberties?

Assessment in this Lesson:

  1. Completed Anticipatory Set Entrance Pass on which students will identify and write down three protected rights before 1864.
  2. Summarized  13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.
  3. Completed essay questions related to John Wilkes Booth, using Booth’s Original Plan.
  4. Categorized different reconstruction plans, using the Student Reconstruction Cards.
  5. Informal assessment through the closure question.