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

Student Historians completed their thematic historical research project (see previous post) this week. The timing was excellent--my 8th Graders needed to turn in their iPads Friday; they submitted their iMovie trailers to me on Schoology Wednesday and we started analyzing them on Friday.

The trailers had many components and I believe the project objectives were accomplished--student groups needed to study one year of the war, decide upon and rank the top three events they believe directly led to the Union victory, and include at least one primary source document for each of the three events. Midway through the project I added another task--groups needed to find out who Matthew Brady was (he was the preeminent Civil War photographer--a photograph of his is shown below) and include at least one of the photographs he took during the war in their trailer. 

Reflection is essential to deep learning--each student completed a self-reflection of their contributions to the project and graded themselves using my rubric components. I look forward to reading these as I grade the trailers.

The second part of the project began Friday. Students started synthesizing the war by viewing the trailers. while completing an analysis chart. Every group informed the class as to what their top three events were, then viewing began.

Each trailer will be viewed three times, in chronological order. Every student must write down one specific compliment (I modeled an example), raise one question about the material in the trailer (it can be hypothetical), and create one connection the material in that particular trailer has to the material in the trailer they completed (for example, the Emancipation Proclamation is showing up in two years--the year Lincoln wrote it and the year it was enacted--students will probably write about this as a connection). An additional twist is that I asked students to announce when they see what they think is the Brady photograph--it's fun to hear them shout out "Brady!" when the photo flashes on the Smart Board!

This project was a hit--it was engaging and challenging, especially near the end of the school year. I think we need to do one more culminating activity to tie it all together before we move into Reconstruction. It's going to be a Visible Thinking routine, either Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate or Color, Symbol, Image.

I will be displaying more student work in the next few days, here is one of the best I've viewed so far. Enjoy!


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