Reconstruction: Inquiry Middle School Lesson Plan

Grades: Middle School

Approximate Length of Time: 3 hours excluding the final essay

Goal: Students will be able to discuss and cite the outcomes of the reconstruction period – 1863-1877. 


  1. Students will be able to complete questions, finding key information within primary and secondary sources.
  2. Students will be able to address a question about a historic event, providing evidence from primary and secondary sources.
  3. Students will be able to identify ways in which historic events impact current events.

Common Core: 

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

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.

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

Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.

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—Civic Ideals and Practices  


This is an inquiry lesson where students will do research to answer the inquiry question concerning the reconstruction period following the civil war. Students will develop a hypothesis, search for evidence in multiple primary and secondary sources, and complete a graphic organizer. Through this process students will develop a strong answer to the inquiry question posed at the beginning. 

Inquiry Question:

What are the outcomes of the period known as Reconstruction?


  • Primary Source Documents Packet
  • Secondary Source Documents Packet
  • Some of the secondary sources are links, be sure to allow access to the internet for these documents and videos
  • Storyboard
  • PowerPoint
  • Final Essay
  • Highlighters


  1. Provide students with the Storyboard, Primary Source Documents, and Secondary Source Documents then, begin the PowerPoint presentation. 
  2. The PowerPoint will act as a guide for the lesson. The PowerPoint is so detailed, it can even be done independently by students.
  3. There are videos within the PowerPoint that should be queued-up ahead of the lesson presentation.
  4. Documents within the Primary Source packet and Secondary Source packet will be referred to through-out the PowerPoint. Some of the documents are required reading, while others are noted in the PowerPoint as ‘provided,’ meaning the document has been provided but is not required reading. The provided documents might be useful for more in-depth understanding or for research purposes. Students may wish to look over and cite these documents for their essay. 
  5. For each document guiding questions are provided, it is up to the teacher as to whether or not these need to be answered. The questions help focus students’ attention and guide in the formation of their own document related questions.
  6. Students will complete the storyboard as they move through the PowerPoint and documents. 
  7. Students should provide citations to documents as they complete the storyboard, this will act as an organizer/outline for their final essay.


Students will answer the inquiry question either orally or in essay form (Essay is provided). They should use evidence from their primary and secondary sources. They can use the documents, their notes, the storyboard, and their answered questions. Students can do additional research to bolster their argument.

Assessment in this Lesson:

  1. Completed storyboard.
  2. A complete answer to the inquiry question with citations from the provided documents.