The Civil War was far more complex than the issue of Slavery. Sure, it was a dominant issue, Sectionalism permeated America once the honeymoon of revolution ended.
We began our unit by going “old school.” Where the Chicago unit featured the Chromebooks as the centerpiece of learning, here the devices take a more supplementary role: supporting and enhancing what students do. I love to lecture, and while I do it rarely, times like these are perfect settings. Students bring very little background knowledge of the Civil War to the table. Our pre-test showed an average score of 30%, with only one kid passing (shout out – Nick C.!).Instead of just listening to me, students used their devices to jot down notes. A few kids even looked up more info while we talked and shared it with the class. While the CBs can be used for radically different ideas, small changes can sometimes be very effective.
With History Fair beginning, we dove into Primary Sources and did a brief search for them. This was our introduction to the idea of finding primary sources, not just reading them. This is something critical as a student historian, not to mention researcher of any kind. Don’t just consume the info – go find it!
Students experienced the Election of 1860 by researching a candidate and creating a campaign for that candidate. The biggest issue here, has become slavery, and what each candidate will do regarding the controversy. Students made posters and prepared stump speeches. In all, we studied how this Election wasn’t just a coronation for Abe, but a Revolution of sorts. Americans – knowing the South would likely secede by doing so – supported the candidate for Abolitionism over more moderate choices. Students got to use their CBs to research and even help with their presentations.
Finally, we revisit our pre-test and sum it up with a last mini-lecture. This time, we use some very cool technology with the CBs. Nearpod is an app that allows me to have students respond to questions during my presentation, almost guaranteeing engagement like we’ve never had before.