Curricular Unit Information

Unit Title: The Civil War: Antibellum South to Reconstruction
Course: United States Histrory
Grade Level: 11
Unit Length: 15 days
Length of Class Period:55 minutes
Personal Stake:
The events that lead to the Civil War are essential in understanding the history of race in this country. Race, and by extension, class, are the issues that kept much, if not all, of American society segregated and mistrustful of the "other." In order to truly reach a post-racial America, we need to understand the origins of our problem and to openly deal with it.

Unit Topic:
[What are the big ideas students should develop? What is important for students to know and be able to do? What knowledge, skills, and attitudes do you want students to encounter and be familiar with in this unit?]

Students should understand the role of geography  had on regional economics and the impact that economics had on people's beliefs in regards to slavery and personal liberty. 

Students should be able to effectively analyze docments (both primary and secondary) and recognize the bias displayed by the author.

Students should recognize that while American slavery was indeed evil, not all slaveholders were necessarily evil as well. Students should also be able to understand the Biblical defense of slavery as presented by Southern Slave holders and Lincoln's response.

Students need to recognize that there were Southerners who didn't support slavery and Northerners who did.

Students will also discuss the idea that there were Indians in the South and that many of them owned slaves.

Students will also discuss the idea that there were free Blacks in the South and that many of them owned slaves as well.

DC Standards

11.1.9: Explain the effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction and of the Industrial Revolution, including demographic shifts and the emergence in the late 19th century of the United States as a world power. 

Common Core Standards (connections):

Anchor Standards:

Reading 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 10

Writing 1, 2, 6, 7, 8

Reading Standards:

RH.11.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to and understanding of the text as a whole.

RH.11.2: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas. 

RH.11.5: Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.  

RH.11.7: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem. 

RH.11.8: Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information. 

Writing Standards: 

WHST.11.2:Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.

WHST.11.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

WHST.11.9: Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. 

Methods of Inquiry:

  • Daily Warm Up: Usually related to a primary source document
  • Extended Essays (3-5 pages)
  • Short Answer Essays (1-3) pages
  • Group discussions
  • Student led discusions
  • Guided note-taking
  • Field Trips
  • Annotated texts
  • Role playing
  • Research and being a docent/guide
  • Brainstorming/List making


  • Students should appreciate the role that geography played in the development of economic regions in the country, as well as differences between political ideas. The notions of liberty were affected by geography as well, and that of course, led to the differences in attitude between abolitionists and slave owners.
  • Students should understand that slavery, while unacceptable in more modern times, was Biblical in nature, and not all slaves objected. Additionally, students need to appreciate that while slavery may have been an unacceptable evil, that all slave owners were not necessarily evil as well.
  • Finally, students should come to understand the impact slavery will have on the United States socially, politically, and economically.

Essential Questions:
Unit Essential Question: How did geography impact the prosecution of the upcoming Civil War?

  1. How did georgrqaphy impact the nature of the North and South?
  2. Explain the difference in the notions of Liberty between the North and South.
  3. How did the differences between the economic systems in the North and South strengthen the notions of sectionalism and lead to war?

Diagnostic Assessment:

  • Students take a multiple choice/definition, and short response questions, and write an essay of their subject of choice for each section.

Formative Assessment:

  • Pop quizzes as neccessary
  • Warm Up discussion/questions
  • Short essays (1-3 pages)
  • Notes
  • Class participation

Summative Assessment:

  • At the completion of the next Unit (Civil War through Reconstruction), students will create a timeline of the process that led up to the war and culminated with Reconstruction using Primary and Secondary Source material that they will gather on their own.
  • The timeline will be made up of excerpts from speeches, letters, newspaper articles, photographs, etc., and will  be done as a PowerPoint presentation.
  • All sources must be from the same time-period as the event discussed (no modern sources will be accepted).
  • Students will present their timelines to the class and will have to weave the Source Material together with a narrative (written out, and handed in after the presentation).
[Summary of differentiation opportunities and possibilities in the curricular unit]

Community and Cultural Resources:
[from the Summer Institute]

Over the course of the unit, students will visit Tudor House (Antebelum Washington, DC), Lincoln's Cottage (Civil War), and Arlington Cemetary (Reconstruction, intro to next Chapter).

If time and weather permits, students will also vist the African American Civil War Memorial and the African American Civil War Museum.

Daily Instruction:
  1. Tudor Place Field Trip
  2.  Intro Chap. 2.2: Guided Note Taking
  3.  Geography, Slavery, and Liberty
  4.  Jacksonian America
  5.  Being Popular means you can do Anything
  6.  The Reform Spirit
  7.  Quiz: Chapter 2.2
  8.  Arlington Cemetery Field Trip (Optional for those that attended the Tudor House Trip)
  9.  Introduction to Chapter 2.3: Guided Note Taking
  10.  How Manifest Destiny led to War with Mexico
  11.  Slavery and Western Expansion
  12.  Railroads: Transcontinental, Underground, and Harpers Ferry
  13.  Dred Scott, John Brown, and the Road to War
  14.  The Union Dissolves
  15.  Quiz: Chapter 2.3