Close Reading Political Cartoons: Reconstruction

» 20 January 2016 » In History / DBQ's, Publishing » No Comments

Northern coat of arms

My Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland recently published a free multi-touch iBook - Exploring History: Vol III (Free iTunes). It features thirteen engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. For more info on our project and free download of multi-touch iBook and pdf versions click here. To better publicize student work, I’m featuring each chapter in it’s own blog post. (First of 13)

Reconstruction in Political Cartoons by EmmaLee Kuhlmann 
Download lesson as PDF 
(8.3MB)

In this lesson, students will examine various political cartoons and other images from around the United States printed during Reconstruction. They will be asked questions of each image which will help them perform close reading skills and help them come to a conclusion about how the different types of American citizens experienced Reconstruction. Essential Questions:

  • How did Americans across the country experience the period of Reconstruction differently?
  • How did their experience influence their perceptions of Reconstruction policies and the government and society of the United States following the Civil War?
  • In what ways are political cartoons useful in exploring how people understood Reconstruction?
  • Are political cartoons a good primary source?

 

Project Reflection by EmmaLee Kuhlmann 

In the initial stages of developing this lesson, I had the idea that I might want to focus primarily on political cartoons for this lesson. There are so many available from this time period, and so many with such vivid imagery that allow students to engage in analysis with very little background knowledge. As I began to collect documents for this lesson, I was a bit worried that I did not have enough content, and that I might need to include other types of documents. However, because Reconstruction is such a large topic, and because there are so many different lenses through which it can be understood, I found that it was easier to stick with the medium of political cartoons, and engage with them more deeply. In this way, students get the opportunity to engage with the controversy of how to rebuild after a terrible and destructive war that changed multiple aspects of society.

In secondary history classes, topics such as Reconstruction are rarely discussed; if they are, very little time is spent uncovering the controversy and complexity of the time period. However, Reconstruction is a period in America’s history that began the current stream of history. By understanding the period following the Civil War, students can begin to see how America’s history has shaped its present. For instance, certain racial policies enacted during Reconstruction played a major role in Americans’ later perceptions of race and racial constructs. It isn’t an easy time period to untangle, certainly another reason why it rarely is at the secondary level. However, giving students primary sources to discuss and explore give them an effective entry point into the time period and the topics surrounding some difficult issues of Reconstruction.

At the end of this particular lesson, numerous different activities could be assigned. In the creation of this lesson, I wanted to leave the final product/assignment open because there are so many creative ways to assess understanding of the cartoons and the ideas and values they present. When I discussed possible options for closing assignments for this lesson, various suggestions were given. My favorite assignment idea was to have students create their own political cartoon using similar themes and imagery from the cartoons that they explored in the lesson. This could be done either about Reconstruction issues or even current events. This would allow students to make connections across topics and time periods.

Image credit: Library of Congress  LC-USZ62-19673 

Title: Northern coat of arms
Related Names: Baker, Joseph E
Date Created/Published: 1864.

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Exploring History: 13 Document-Based Lessons

» 15 December 2015 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Publishing » No Comments

Exploring-History-III-featured

Thirteen engaging US and World history lessons and historic documents empower students to be the historian in the classroom. Free at iTunes and as a downloadable PDF.

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Japantown History Awarded “Best Textbook” & “Best Widget”

» 08 October 2015 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Publishing » No Comments

japantown-featured

My iBook “Portland’s Japantown Revealed” won two awards at the international iBooks Author Conference. The book’s “Portland Revealed” widgets allow the reader to blend historic and contemporary photographs and explore the story of Portland’s “Nihonmachi” (Japantown) – a once vibrant community that disappeared with the forced removal and incarceration of its citizens. Download free at iTunes.

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PD Should Model What You Want To See in the Classroom

» 05 August 2015 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, PD, Projects, Publishing, Teachers » 1 Comment

Student-as-historian-featured

Here’s how a Library of Congress-funded PD session incorporated flipped/ blended learning, PBL, collaborative Google tools. Free iBook and PDF for download with all course content and showcase iBook “The Student As Historian ~ Teaching with Primary Sources from the Library of Congress”

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