Robert E. Lee Lesson Plan

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson plan gives you several activities, discussion topics and questions, and a quiz that will help students learn more about Robert E. Lee as a man and as a general.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson has been completed, students should be able to:

  • identify Robert E. Lee's role during the Civil War
  • discuss his early background
  • describe his military tactics and prowess


1-2 hours


  • Handouts of the transcripts of the official surrender of Lee's troops on April 9, 1865 at the Appomattox Courthouse as well as his General Order No 9
  • A map of the U.S. during the time of this lesson
  • Chalk/markers and erasers for the class board
  • Tape or magnets

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Warm Up

  • See how much students know about this topic by asking:
    • Who was Robert E. Lee?
    • Who was Robert E. Lee's Union military equivalent?

Discussion & Mini-Activities

  • As a class, watch the video Who Was General Robert E. Lee? - History & Civil War Facts.
  • Pause at the header 'Robert E. Lee: Early Years' to ask:
    • What do we mean when we say that Lee fought 'against' the United States?
    • Describe Lee's early life.
    • How was Lee related to George Washington?
    • Discuss Lee's early military career.
  • Now read pause at 'Secession, War & Rise to Command' ask:
    • What is secession?
  • Pass out a map of the U.S. at this time. Have students identify, as a class, the states that seceded and when they did so.
  • Watch the remainder of the lesson together.
    • What is meant by the Confederacy?
    • What important roles did Lee play during the Civil War?
  • Using the same map from the prior mini-activity, have students pinpoint the locations of all of the battles mentioned in the 'Victories & Defeats' section.
  • Pass out a handout with the transcript of the official surrender of Lee's troop on April 9, 1865 at the Appomattox Courthouse as well as his General Order No 9. After reading it as a class, discuss what must've been going through Lee's mind at the time of the signing of the surrender and the writing of his order no 9.

Vocabulary Activity

  • Place the following terms up on the class board:
    • Robert E. Lee
    • Ulysses S. Grant
    • Army of Northern Virginia
    • Army of the Potomac
    • Battle of Second Manassas
    • Battle of Antietam
    • Battle of Fredericksburg
    • Battle of Chancellorsville
    • Thomas Jonathan 'Stonewall' Jackson
    • Overland Campaign
    • Appomattox Court House
  • Students should use the school library to find and print at least three images that correspond to each term. They should then come back to class and use magnets or tape to place the images as the visual 'definitions' of the term.
  • Give students some time to study what's up on the board.
  • Then, take away the images and randomly select students from the class to come up and place an image of your choosing under the correct term.

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