The Reconstruction Era and The Fragility of Democracy uses our pedagogical approach to help students examine how a society rebuilds after extraordinary division and trauma, when the ideals of democracy are most vulnerable. It provides history teachers with dozens of primary and secondary source documents, close reading exercises, lesson plans, and activity suggestions that will push students to build a complex understanding of the dilemmas and conflicts Americans faced during Reconstruction and to identify the legacies of this history that extended through the twentieth century to the present day.
These materials will help students examine themes such as historical memory, justice, and civic participation in a democracy. The unit also includes a variety of interdisciplinary teaching strategies that reinforce historical and literacy skills.
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The Reconstruction Era and the Fragility of Democracy
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Students explore the potential negative impact of images through the social media protest #IfTheyGunnedMeDown and develop a decision-making process for choosing imagery to represent controversial events.
Students examine how identity and biases can impact how individuals interpret images and experience the challenge of selecting images to represent news events, particularly connected to sensitive issues.
Students establish a safe space for holding sensitive conversations, before introducing the events surrounding Ferguson, by acknowledging people's complicated feelings about race and creating a classroom contract.
Students explore the role of social media in Ferguson, apply information verification strategies to social media posts, and develop strategies for becoming critical consumers and sharers of social media.
Students identify the responsibilities of citizen watchdogs, summarize strategies for combatting confirmation bias and responsibly consuming and sharing news and information, and complete a culminating essay.
Students review the US Department of Justice report, revisit how confirmation bias impacts our understanding of events, and consider how to bridge the gap in understanding that often surrounds events like Ferguson.