Reconstruction Amendments Lesson Plan

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

The Reconstruction Amendments were a major part of the Reconstruction Period in the U.S. Your students will learn about these amendments as they watch a video and make cause and effects charts.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define Reconstruction Amendments
  • state the purpose of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments
  • describe the cause and effect of the Reconstruction Amendments


1.5 - 2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.


Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.


  • Computer with projector
  • Copies of the lesson quiz
  • Poster boards
  • Markers and/or colored pencils
  • Copies of the U.S. Constitution or copies of at least the Reconstruction Amendments


  • Begin this lesson by asking your students how they feel about being American citizens. Follow this up with asking your students if they plan to vote once they turn 18.
  • Let your students know that these were not always automatic questions. There was a time when citizenship and the right to vote did not exist for everyone that resides in the U.S. Tell your students they are going to learn more about how this change came about as they watch The Reconstruction Amendments: The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments video lesson.
  • Start the video from the beginning and pause it for the first time at 1:47 to ask and discuss the following:
    • What was the Dred Scott court case about?
    • What was the outcome of the Dred Scott court case?
    • What are Reconstruction Amendments?
    • What is the significance of the Reconstruction Amendments?
  • Continue playing the video for your students and pause it again at 2:47 to discuss the following:
    • What is the Emancipation Proclamation?
    • Pass out the copies of the U.S. Constitution or copies of the Reconstruction Amendments - have a student read the 13th Amendment.
    • What did the 13th Amendment establish?
    • How do you think the 13th Amendment impacted the northern U.S. versus the southern U.S.
  • Continue playing the video and pause it again at 4:20 to discuss the following:
    • Have a few students each read a paragraph of the 14th Amendment to the class.
    • What did the 14th Amendment establish?
    • What did the U.S. make former Confederate states do in regards to the 14th Amendment?
    • How is the 14th Amendment impacting the U.S. now?
  • Continue playing the video and pause it one last time at 4:58 to discuss the following:
    • When was the 15th Amendment ratified?
    • Have a student read the 15th Amendment to the class.
    • What did the 15th Amendment establish?
    • What did states do to try to work around this amendment?
    • How long did it take for the 15th Amendment to truly be exercised?
  • Play the rest of the video for your students and answer any questions they have at this point.

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