There are several documents that are integral to and synonymous with US history: The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, The Emancipation Proclamation. They can be found in every textbook, and students are often forced to memorize parts of them, but how often are students encouraged to think critically about these documents? It is taken for granted that these documents are important, but allowing students to form their own ideas about why these documents are so essential to the history of the United States can help students appreciate them in a whole new way.
In the unit plan “The Immediate Effects of the Emancipation Proclamation”, students are split up into four groups: the Union states, the Confederate states, the Union Army, and black Americans. Each group will read the Proclamation together and create a historical argument that their assigned group was the most impacted by the Proclamation. This activity allows students to think critically about the Emancipation Proclamation and its effects. By taking different perspectives, this plan helps students achieve Core Standards about reading in history. The Proclamation is no longer a boring document from their textbook, but an important piece of history that affected different people in many different ways.