Lesson Plan: Overview

Intimidation at Its Best


Grade Level: 5th


Academic Standard

Standard 5-1: The student will demonstrate an understanding of Reconstruction and its impact on racial relations in the United States.

5-1.5 Explain the purpose and motivations behind the rise of discriminatory laws and groups and their effect on the rights and opportunities of African Americans in different regions of the United States.

Essential Questions
1. Why was the Ku Klux Klan motivated to rise during Reconstruction? 

2. How did the Ku Klux Klan affect the rights of African Americans in South Carolina during Reconstruction?

Historical Background Notes

After the Civil War, social, political, and economic changes were happening in our country. During the time of rebuilding our great nation, known as Reconstruction, former slaves were gaining rights. The 13th amendment freed the slaves, the 14th amendment gave the former African American Slaves citizenship, and the 15th amendment gave African American men the right to vote. The passing of these amendments were met with strong opposition from some whites. Even with the passing of these amendments, the African Americans did not easily get these rights.

The first Klan was formed in 1865 in Tennessee in order to restore white supremacy in our country. It was not until 1868 that the Klan came to South Carolina. During this time, a group known as the Union League formed in which white men organized African Americans politically and taught them to hate their former white friends (Horn 1939, 26). This was fuel to the fire for the motivation of the Ku Klux Klan. Many Klan members were angry about the blacks’ actions and wanted to take action to oppress them once again. “W.R. Robertson of Winnsboro proposed a solution to the problem of ‘stupid leading darkies…determined to provoke a conflict with the white race. Meet the problem ‘promptly and terribly,’ he insisted. ‘Kill up a few hundred of them’ and thus ‘put a stop to their incendiarism in short order’ ” (Williams 1996, 22). This feeling was felt throughout the Klan.

The formation of the Union League did influence the KKK to rise, but the Klan members also wanted to protect themselves and their families from the black militiamen groups that were formed by South Carolina Governor Scott in 1870 (Williams 1996, 24). The Klan was trying to restore white supremacy in the government. “…the Klan did not regard themselves as lawbreakers, but as law-enforcers” (Horn 1939, 45). Their view of themselves as law-enforcers only fueled their activities further to punish the radicals.

During Reconstruction, there were many ways that the KKK affected the rights and opportunities of the African Americans. Most commonly, whippings were used as a form of Klan violence against African Americans. This was not the worst punishment they would give a Negro. Some other ways included robbery, rape, arson, and murder (Williams 1996, 29). The Klan was punishing the blacks for various things such as acquiring property or power, witnessing a Klan crime, voting, and being in politics.

A typical KKK attack would begin with a late-night raid often leaving the victims disabled or dead. Often times, the Klan would make the victim renounce the Republican Party. Sometimes the women and children were also beaten during an attack (Edgar 2006, 525). The Klan reeked havoc on the lives of the African Americans. This affected their day-to- day activities because they would often be intimidated to the point where they would not exercise their newly-gained rights.

The majority of white South Carolinians supported the goals of the KKK; therefore, the criminal justice system was not enough to stop the violence. Blacks who reported crimes often found that the local trial justices ignored their complaints (Williams 1996, 37). The KKK was successful in affecting the rights and opportunities of the African Americans during Reconstruction.

Cultural Institution Partner
Darlington County Historical Commission


Primary Sources

Chamberlain, D.H.  Arguments of D.H. Chamberlain, During the Ku Klux Klan Trials, at Columbia, S.C.  Columbia: Republican Printing Company, 1872.

“Effingham.”  Marion Star, 3 May, 1871.  Darlington County Historical Commission, Darlington, South Carolina. 

“Interesting Personalities: Sheriff Press Cole”.  Darlington County Historical Commission, Darlington, South Carolina. 

"Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Incorporated."  Klansman’s Manual.  Darlington County Historical Commission, Darlington, South Carolina.   

“Ku Klux Klan.”  Marion Star, 12 July, 1871.  Darlington County Historical Commission, Darlington, South Carolina.  

Muldrow, M.A. Creed Book for Ku Klux Klan.  Darlington County Historical Commission, Darlington, South Carolina.

Newspaper clipping.  “Hundreds See Klan Rally Held Here.”  Darlington County Historical Commission, Darlington, South Carolina. 

Newspaper clipping. “KKK ignites new terror in the South.” Darlington County Historical Commission, Darlington, South Carolina. 

Secondary Sources

Edgar, Walter.  The South Carolina Encyclopedia.  Columbia: The University of South Carolina Press, 2006.  

Horn, Stanley F.  Invisible Empire: The Story of the Ku Klux Klan 1866-1871. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1939. 

Williams, Lou Falkner.  The Great South Carolina Ku Klux Klan Trials, 1871-1872.  Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1996.    


• teacher-created Power Points, KKK Motivation and KKK Rights and Opportunities
• copies of primary sources with teacher-selected highlighted sections
• copies of secondary sources with teacher-selected highlighted sections
• teacher-created written document analysis sheet for each student
• markers
• construction paper
• timer
• LCD projector
• laptop
• pencils
• cooperate groups set up and established

Lesson Plans

(See PowerPoint for detailed instructions- everything is outlined for the teacher slide by slide).  This lesson should take 45 minutes.

1. For my lesson, I began the lesson by telling the students the objective for that day, which was to explain two reasons why the Ku Klux Klan was motivated to rise during Reconstruction. 

2. I gave the students a preview of what we would be doing during the lesson.  (1-2 minutes) 

Goal setting, Background, Real Life Connections, Primary Source Model, Written Document Analysis Sheet, Group Activity, Placemat Consensus, Ticket Out the Door (Individual Check) - see Student Assessment section, and Goal Reflection.  (1 minute)

3. I then had my students set their academic goal for the lesson.  They had to write down one thing they wanted to learn during the lesson about the motivation of the Klu Klux Klan.  They shared their goal with their partner and talked about how they could help their partner reach their goal. (1-2 minutes) 

4. I activated my students’ background knowledge by asking them, “Would you keep someone from being the line leader just because of their race?  Why or why not?”  I had the students talk with their A/B partner about their answer, and they had to explain if they agreed or disagreed with their partner.  After the students talked to their A/B partner, I asked a few students to share aloud with the whole class what their partner had said.  Most students said the same thing which was that they would not do that because it was wrong. (3 minutes)

5. Next, I gave my students background about the KKK.  I explained that the Klan’s main goal was to keep blacks from pursuing the rights they had gained after the Civil War.  We reviewed the previously-taught information about the rights that the former slaves gained  (13th, 14th, and 15th amendments).  (4 minutes)

6. We then reviewed what a primary/secondary source was and how to infer using our background knowledge and clues from the source to find meaning.  (2 minutes)

7. I then modeled for the students with a primary source the Written Document Analysis Sheet for the students to see what was expected of them during group work.  I completed the entire analysis sheet with the M.A. Muldrow Creed Book primary source in PowerPoint.  (5 minutes)

8. Next, I explained the group work (see PowerPoints, KKK Motivation and KKK Rights and Opportunities ) and assigned roles and responsibilities. Everyone in the group would answer questions 1-2 together when they got their source before moving on to individual questions.  1’s would answer question 3A, 2’s would answer 3B, 3’s would answer 3C, 4/5’s would answer 3D, and everyone would answer 3E individually.  It was important to tell students that everyone would be working on their question at the same time, and then they would share answers.  I set the timer for 10 minutes and let them work individually.  (12 minutes)

9. After the timer went off, we had a class chat to discuss the findings with the class for each source.  Each person at each group was responsible for reporting the answer to their question regarding their source.  

10. Then, we did a Placemat Consensus to come up with one consensus about the most important reason that motivated the rise of the KKK.  On a piece of construction paper, I drew the following lines prior to class: (one sheet per group).

Placemat Consensus Sheet

I read the question to the students for them to come up with a consensus.  The question was “What was the most important reason that motivated the rise of the KKK?”  Each student wrote in their corner of the paper.  I set the timer for 2 minutes.  Everyone was writing individually.  There was absolutely no talking during the initial writing stage of Placemat Consensus.  When two minutes were up, I had the students to talk and reach a consensus regarding the question.  I assigned a student to write their group’s consensus in the middle of the circle.  I had each group share out with the class to come up with the notes for the day.   

11. Depending on how much the students take away from the document analysis, you may or may not need to give notes.  When I taught the lesson, my students took away the correct information from the document analysis, and I did not have to tell them the information for their notes.  (3 minutes) 

12. Ticket Out the Door (Individual Check) - a multiple choice question- and-short answer question on a note card to turn in - listed under Student Assessment section. (3 minutes)

13. I had the students reflect on their goal for the lesson.  Did they reach their goal for the day and why or why not?  I had my students do this by talking with their A/B partners.  (2 minutes)   

Teacher Reflections

What worked?
The use of the Written Analysis Document was essential to help the students organize the information from the sources. The students being able to see me model how to complete the Document Analysis Sheet was beneficial to the lesson. The students knew their expectations and were able to get started right away. The Placemat Consensus activity really tied everything together at the end of the lesson. The students told me the information they needed to know about the motivation behind the KKK. They were able to talk with their classmates to determine what was important to know. The students blew me away with their ability to find all of the motivations of the KKK from the sources I provided in class. I was prepared to share the notes with the class, but they were not needed. The students exceeded my expectations.

What did not work?
The sources I chose to use were not written on the fifth grade reading level. The students struggled to read and comprehend the sources on their own. They did enlist the help of their group members in order to be successful with the group work. Early finishers were asked to help struggling group members complete their question. The difficulty of the text was an issue for some students, but they figured a way to overcome this problem on their own.

How can the lessons be improved?
I feel the first lesson can be improved by possibly choosing the sources for each group based on their reading ability level. During my second lesson, I was able to make the accommodation, and it worked wonderfully. The students were able to be successful at reading their source because I assigned the sources based on student reading levels. I could modify this lesson to include Origin, Purpose, Value, and Limitations once the students have mastered the document analysis aspect. This will give the students a chance to extend their knowledge and show a higher level of thinking. I thought about possibly modifying some of the sources to fit the needs of the students, but I decided against it because I did not want to change the source from the original context.

Summary Essay:
I was eager to enroll in the Teaching American History in South Carolina (TAHSC) class. I just finished my master’s degree and now had the free time during the summer to take the class I wanted to take for the previous three years. I had heard many great things about the class and was excited to learn new methods to use in my classroom to teach my US History class.

This course has influenced how I approach teaching all my lessons. I had previously used primary sources to teach my students, but I did not use them to their full potential. Wardie’s sessions changed the way I looked at primary sources and used them in my classroom. Before TAHSC, I would use a picture to show the students what it looked like during that time period to get their minds thinking. Now, I am able to use the pictures and have the students to analyze documents for the Origin, Purpose, Value, and Limitations. I was taught this method in the master teacher session.

I started my students with a simple Document Analysis Sheet to get them comfortable with using primary and secondary sources as a way to find out new information. After the students were comfortable with this, I was able to modify the use of primary and secondary sources to include the students looking for the OPVL (Origin, Purpose, Value, and Limitation) of each source. This has been very beneficial to my students because now they are able to learn so much more about a time period from a picture or a text document.

Kevin did a wonderful job with our lectures. I particularly enjoyed his lectures on the Cold War. The information he covered in a short amount of time was more than enough to aid in my comprehension of things I did not know about. In 5th grade US History, we do not go into great detail about the Cold War so I was excited to learn more that I will be able to share with my students as an added bonus. The information I learned helped me understand the Cold War at a much deeper comprehension level. I feel now I am able to give my students better content instruction based on my new content knowledge.

Kevin covered a large amount of information in a very short time. I would have gotten more out of the lectures if there were more time spent on modern history starting with the Cold War and progressing to the current situation in Iraq. I think he felt that most of us knew a great deal about the more recent times because most of the students in the course were older. I would have loved to hear more about 1970-2000 since I am younger and was not old enough to experience history through the majority of that time span.

Wardie modeled a great number of primary source activities to use in our US History classrooms. The parts of her sessions where she taught us a lesson and allowed us to participate in it like students was most beneficial to me. I was able to learn a new instructional strategy, as well as participate, to see any potential problems my students would have when completing the activity. She gave copies of many hands-on activities to make history come to life for our students, which has been very beneficial to my students this year.

Wardie sometimes did not have ample time to present the Show-n-Go to us during her allotted afternoon time. I feel that if she would have had an extra 15 minutes or so, she would have been able to go in to more detail about her activities, and possibly, even be able to cover more Show-n-Gos. The Show-n-Gos are easy to use in the classroom with any age because they are easily modified. This has been very helpful for me this year.

The cultural institutions we visited were amazing resources here in South Carolina. Some of the sites I had never been to and took away some valuable information regarding the site. The most useful site was the Darlington County Historical Commission. It had the most information that I could use in my classroom instruction, and it was relevant to my students because most of the information from there is based from Darlington County. Whether it was research information for me or primary and secondary sources for a lesson, the women there were eager to help me find what I was looking for.

Some cultural institutions I found not to be useful tools for my teaching. The Tobacco Museum and Cotton Museum do not fit the standards I cover in fifth grade, and I did not find the information there to be useful to my classroom instruction. However, I enjoyed getting to see the museums and the part of history they represent. I am always eager to learn more about a topic that I do not teach about. These institutions allowed me the opportunity to do just that.

My students' work has improved drastically this year from the use of primary and secondary sources appropriately. I have found that my students are internalizing the information and committing it to memory. They do this because they are able to put themselves in the time period we are studying to learn more about life. This year alone I have seen a dramatic increase in my students’ knowledge as a result of using primary source pictures from the time period we are studying versus straight lecture.

My students are getting higher scores on assessments which show they are able to retain information from our first unit of the year. They can remember things we studied during our Reconstruction unit to our most current unit covering the 1920’s and 1930’s because the primary and secondary sources stick with them. By far, using primary and secondary sources are beneficial to teaching US History.

Student Assessment

What was the motivation behind the rise of the Klu Klux Klan during Reconstruction?

A. to keep women from exercising their newly-gained rights

B. to keep African Americans from exercising their newly-gained rights

C. to keep the “black” race sacred

D. to keep the “white” race from taking over the government

Name two reasons why the Klu Klux Klan was motivated to rise during Reconstruction. 

Name two ways the KKK effected rights of African Americans during Reconstruction in South Carolina. 

Examples of Students Work

Student Work


Ashley Gedris
West Hartsville Elementary
Hartsville, South Carolina