Lesson: Lesson 3 - Sharecropping

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Lesson Objective

By the end of the lesson, SWBAT describe and analyze how sharecropping hurt the freed slaves.

Lesson Plan

 Key Points:

·       Sharecropping was when poor farmers used a landowner’s fields.

·       Sharecropping kept poor people in debt because they always owed the landowners money for things such as food, clothing, farm supplies, and medicine.

·       Sharecropping made it hard for poor farmers to save money and provide a good life for their families.

Essential Question: How was sharecropping good and bad for the former slaves in the South?

Vocabulary: Freedmen’s Bureau, Reconstruction, Medicine, Food, Shelter, Legal, Sharecropping, Tenants,

Assessment: During the Independent Practice, Students will be completing a reflection on the issue of sharecropping. The teacher will assess the writing to determine if the main facts of the lesson were learned by the students. 

Opening (10 minutes):


·       At the start of the lesson T will put the following starter on the board: “Why do you think life was hard for the slaves after the Civil War”

·       T will have the Ss work in groups and discuss the answers.

·       T will call on groups to share out their answers.

·       T will read the objective and go over the schedule for class.


·       Ss will complete their starters.

·       Ss will share their thoughts.

·       Ss will ask questions about the objectives

Introduction of New Material (25 minutes):


·       T will show a brief PowerPoint on sharecropping and specifically how sharecropping left poor farmers in debt and basically servants and slaves to the land.

·       T will concentrate on the fact that sharecropping was the only choice for a lot of poor former slaves, and poor white people.

·       T will emphasize that sharecropping was not a good way to live – considering all of the debts that were constantly piling up along with being tied to one land – unable to leave because of ever increasing debts.

·       T will explain that today sharecropping does not exist in the United States –but it would be interesting to research whether or not it exists somewhere else now.

·       T will have the Ss take notes throughout the PowerPoint.


·       Ss will listen to the PowerPoint presentation

·       Ss will fill out the graphic organizer

·       Ss will ask and answer questions pertinent to the presentation.

Guided Practice (20 minutes):


·       T will hand the Ss another graphic organizer that will provide perspective on the debts that pile up, and all of the negativities that go along with sharecropping.

·       T will tell the Ss to look at the graphic organizer. On the graphic organizer there will be three columns: Money Borrowed, Money Earned, and Total Income/Debt.

·       T will tell the Ss that the T will be the rich farmer. T will tell the Ss that I am nice enough to let you use my land if you pay rent on it. T will also say that you can sell your cotton for whatever price, but you must pay me $10 a month. T will then say that the T will also explain that certain things necessary for living also must be bought. Therefore, T will explain that if you need food, clothing, farm supplies, or medicine, that must be bought as well.

·       T will then go through three scenarios – each scenario representing a month. At each scenario, T will ask the students to tally as many marks as they can neatly in the Money earned category. After the fifteen, thirty, or forty-five seconds of tallying, T will have the Ss add up how much they made from selling cotton. T will then tell them they have certain expenses and have the students deduct those expenses from their earnings. Finally, the T will have the Ss figure out their Income/Debt. (math integration)

·       T will then ask the Ss if they think that it is easy to support a family sharecropping.

·       T will also ask the Ss what trend they notice about the debt.

·       T will explain that the longer you are a sharecropper, the more debt that you collect. T will also explain that you can’t leave your land because if you do, you won’t be making any money and you won’t be able to pay back your debt!


·       Ss will complete their graphic organizers.

·       Ss will work respectfully.

Independent Practice (30 minutes):


·       T will tell the Ss to use the knowledge that they gained from the graphic organizer sharecropping exercise to help with the following writing prompt: “Why was it difficult to earn a living as a sharecropper? How are sharecropping and slavery similar?

·       T will have the Ss complete the writing prompt quietly.

·       T can also have the earlier finishers write a small story form the perspective of a sharecropper.

·       T will help those Ss that are struggling to understand the concept in a one on one manner.

·       T will have those Ss that are struggling with the lesson on the computers re-listening to the chapter on Sharecropping. (Remedial)

·       T will allow those students that are finished to do independent research on sharecropping today.


·       Ss will listen to the writing prompt.

·       Ss will complete the writing prompt quietly.

·       Ss will go to the Social Studies Center if they finish early.

Closing (10 minutes):


·       As a closing, T will have some of the Ss read some of their writings.

·       T will also recap the objectives of the day.

·       T will tell the Ss that next time the Ss will be learning about Jim Crow laws, and how those laws ended Reconstruction in the South.


·       Students will listen to the T talk about the next lesson.

·       Ss will ask any last minute questions.

·       Ss will write down their homework assignment.

Homework: Freedmen’s Bureau Project

Materials: LCD, Graphic Organizer, Clock

Teacher’s Reflection:

I found this lesson to be great because I was able to incorporate some Math into a Social Studies lesson. However, when I did do the activity, I had to really slow down and allow time for students to actually calculate the math on their sheets. I found that this time was valuable because it made the students internalize the data on their sheets. Finally, I found it very helpful that throughout the lesson I kept reiterating the central message of the lesson: while a lot of people went into sharecropping believing it would give them independence, in fact it did not, and in reality it only put them in tough positions where debt mounted with every year. 

Lesson Resources

Reconstruction Unit - Lesson 3 - Sharecropping - Key Note   Smart Board
Reconstruction Unit - Lesson 3 - Sharecropping - PowerPoint   Smart Board
Reconstruction Unit - Lesson 3 - Sharecropping - Sharecropping Activity and Reflection   Activity
Reconstruction Unit - Lesson 3 - Sharecropping - Lesson Plan   Lesson Plan


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