Historical Research and Analysis: Delving into One Year of the Civil War

Student Historians began Civil War era research today, with a twist.

My goal was to create a thematic investigative project. Upon reflection, Civil War projects at the beginning of my teaching career centered on various historical groups and topics but I noticed how these projects were actually more like a research report than an opportunity to delve into deep thinking and learning. I needed create something to help this year's students continue to hone the analytical and technological skills they've developed this year and I think we are really going to like the results.

Six groups of students will each focus on 1 year of the war, from 1860-1865. (I included 1860 because the Election of Lincoln and secession of South Carolina were huge events that directly led to war.) Each group will rank three events that had an impact on the end of the war, as well as locate and analyze a primary source document for each. They will compile this information into an iMovie trailer presentation.

I made a Schoology folder full of information and links--more information was added today as needs arose. 

Students will take on many roles and work as a team to locate, analyze, rank, (this is a sophisticated skill--what makes an event strong enough to be #3 but not strong enough to be #1, for example) and explain various events. Including primary source documents from sites such as the National Archives and the Smithsonian in their presentation is another essential component--students will spend time locating and selecting the documents that best showcase and justify their events. Persuasive writing skills will take center stage as Student Historians succinctly develop reasoning for their events. I'm also excited to see how this, their second iMovie trailer activity, will be smoother this time because they've already used this technology in our room.

I will update our progress throughout the next week and a half, as well as post student work. If today was any indication, it will be a valuable learning experience for all of us.


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