Showing posts from May, 2011

Gettysburg Documentary

A few of my students mentioned to me that there's going to be a new documentary on The History Channel about Gettysburg and it's debuting this Monday, Memorial Day, at 9pm. DVR it students, it's past your bedtime! :)

Here's a link if you're interested:

Please enjoy this Memorial Day weekend but remember why we have a long weekend--we are honoring our troops and their service to our country.

Have a great weekend!

Civil War Documents

My students recently examined important documents related to the Civil War. Groups analyzed the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, the order to allow African-Americans to enlist in the Union Army and the Gettysburg Address. Students used the SmartBoard to examine the original document from the National Archives website as well as a paper copy of the document.

These young historians learn a lot from primary sources and get an opportunity to make their own conclusions from these resources, as opposed to only reading the opinions of textbook writers.

Civil War Day

Eighth Grade students in my district spent a day at our city's historical museum experiencing the Civil War. Students learned about camp life, communications and telegraphing messages, boot making, marching and drilling, the life of Sojourner Truth and how to dance the Virginia Reel. (This is always my favorite session!) The day ended with an Abraham Lincoln re-enactor reciting the Gettysburg Address.

This day was fun and educational for all involved. Countless hours of preparation were spent by the presenters and students showed their appreciation by being attentive and asking questions.

Civil War Report Card

Students created a report card evaluating Union President Lincoln, Union Generals Grant and McClellan, Confederate President Davis and Confederate General Lee. I use this report card activity often throughout the year because it's a really effective way for students to analyze and synthesize material. It also helps students see "the big picture". Students must give a grade for each topic/person and justify the grade. Students need to argue, for example, why someone earned a B but also why that person did not earn an A. It's a higher-level activity and it generates terrific discussions.

The consensus was that, two years into the war, Lincoln, Grant and Lee earned Bs or As but McClellan had grades that ranged from Bs to Es because of his inability to consistently engage Union troops in battles and the students haven't forgiven him for not finishing off the Confederates after Antietam. President Davis earned a B, on average, but students want to learn more about hi…

Guest Speaker from the Secret Service

Students learned about the United States Secret Service from a retired Agent, one that's protected President Kennedy-President George H.W. Bush. It was a quite a privilege to hear his stories and see photos that only an Agent would have. Secret Service Agents must have characteristics such as integrity and patriotism and our guest speaker is the embodiment of both. Thank you for your time today!

Civil War Exhibit at The Henry Ford

The Henry Ford Museum is hosting an exhibit of Civil War artifacts from May 21-September 5, 2011. This in and of itself is very exciting but the true highlight is that, for a few days, the Emancipation Proclamation will be removed from the National Archives and brought to The Henry Ford!

The Emancipation Proclamation will be ready for viewing from 6pm on Monday, June 20th through 6am on Wednesday, June 22nd. The Museum will be open continuously during this time period and admission during this time is free.

Here are some links for more information:

The Civil War Exhibit link:
Emancipation Proclamation link:

Why are We Discussing the Berlin Wall Today?

Today students are learning which states made up the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War. Each class pointed out how difficult (impossible) it would have been for Lincoln and the Union Government to conduct business in Washington DC if Maryland hadn't sided with the Union. I then decided to briefly interject modern history and liken this situation to what actually happened in West and East Berlin during the Cold War.  The students had a good review of a 7th Grade Global Studies topic but could also appreciate American History in a different way through this comparison.

Lincoln Line Graph

Students viewed a biography of Abraham Lincoln this week and took notes, with a twist. Instead of writing notes traditionally, students were given sixteen topics about Lincoln's life (two examples are his childhood and his role as Commander-in-Chief during the Civil War). Each student wrote down facts for each topic and then ranked them on a line graph that ranged from +5 to -5. When students were finished with their notes and graphs they then reflected on their graph and wrote conclusions about their rankings and justified their opinions.