Class 5: Looking Back – Was Lincoln a Racist?

Featured image: Freedmans Monument in Lincoln Park Lincoln Park (1876)
Sculptor: Thomas Ball Source


We will continue our examination of historical thinking skills based on the work by Stanford History Education Group. (SHEG). In this class our focus will be on Contextualization. See Historical Thinking Chart  (pdf in English and Spanish at SHEG).

For content, in this class session will will consider the roots of American racism seen through the lens of US Civil War era.

Class Session | Zoom Video

We will open class with a check for understanding activity focused on the historical sourcing. Next, Peter will lead a short demonstration of contextualization.

Then the class will break into two groups to explore racism in context in two using the framework of “Structured Academic Controversy”  (SAC). Not all issues can be easily debated as pro / con positions. SAC provides students with a framework for addressing complex issues in a productive manner that builds their skills in reading, analyzing, listening, and discussion. It shifts the goal from “winning” the argument to active listening to opposing viewpoints and distilling areas of agreement.

SAC questions

Question A:  Was Abraham Lincoln a racist? 250kb PDF. 
Breakout 1 argues that Lincoln was a racist.
Breakout 2 argues that Lincoln was not a racist.

Question B: Were African Americans free during Reconstruction? 750kb PDF. 
Breakout 3 argues African Americans were free during Reconstruction.
Breakout 4 argues African Americans were not free during Reconstruction.


Position Presentation
1. Side A presents their position using supporting evidence from the texts.
2. Side B restates to Side A’s satisfaction.
3. Side B presents their position using supporting evidence from the texts.
4. Side A restates to Side B’s satisfaction.
5. Abandon roles.
6. Build consensus regarding the question (or at least clarify where your differences lie), using supporting evidence.
7. Consider the question: How should we judge people from the past?

Assignment 5 | Graded Forms 20-A5

ASSIGNED reading:

In our next class we will be exploring the impact of industrialization in the late 1800s. Please download and review Progress and Poverty in Industrial America available free at iTunes. We will be using the 11 sources to create a graphic organizer that responds to the essential question: “How do we evaluate the social costs and benefits of technological innovations?”


We will build on our new Google Forms skills by designing two separate forms – a self graded quiz and differentiated form. The self-graded quiz is scored tests, so you should find some historical source material that lends itself to objective questions. The differentiated form could also be an objective test or a “choose your own path” presentation. (See Resources below)

Each Google form  should include:

  1. Title
  2. Historical document(s) as prompt for questions.
  3. Where you got the document(s). Include working URL. (Be sure it’s in public domain)
  4. About 3 – 5 questions for user to answer. 
  5. Answer key that gives feedback for correct / incorrect answers. (In your self-graded quiz)
  6. Alternative paths to different sections based on answers (In your differentiated form)

Embed the two Google forms in post (more instructions below). 

Be sure your blog post has

  1. Featured image and clever title
  2. Target student group. Grade, course.
  3. Quiz context – for example – introduction, pre-assessment, etc
  4. Direct link to Google Forms
  5. Embedded Google Forms using HTML Snippets (same process as last class)


Self grading form – students will see how they did on each question. And you can provide feedback and “reteaching” for questions they missed.

Sample Self Graded Quiz Link
How to make Self Graded Quiz Link

Differentiated form – it is self graded, except if as they get correct or wrong answers they follow different paths. For example if they miss question 1, they go to instructional info and then retake the question. If they get question 1 correct, they go directly to question 2.

Sample differentiated quiz Link
Here’s one that adds images Link
Can use the same technique to make it a “choose your own path” Link
Here’s a good planning tool for “choose your own path” Link

Here’s a good how to on created a differentiated form

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.