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Joseph P. Binkoski
In developing research skills, the students will meet periodically in the school library to review basic library skills such as using the card catalog or making use of periodical literature. In addition, many assignments will require research in New Haven’s Public Libraries. A trip to the library at the New Haven Historical Society is also planned to investigate topics relevant to New Haven’s or Connecticut’s role in the Civil War. It is hoped that students will become more competent in research skills as a result of these visits.
Writing skills will be developed through the papers written in library research. The students will be encouraged, however, to proof-read, re-read and to re-write their papers depending upon the paper’s accuracy. It is intended that students will develop greater competence in writing skills as they become more aware of their individual strengths and weaknesses. The teacher should keep an individual file of each student’s papers throughout the unit and, periodically, the student and the teacher will meet to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the papers.
As the unit progresses, each student will have the chance to view the previous papers and note his/her progress. Also, as the teacher sees necessary, common problems of concern to the entire class will be discussed and class instruction on specific areas may result. These common problems might include how to use a dictionary or Thesaurus, how to construct good paragraphs, how to construct a bibliography, how to footnote properly and the like. The nature, then, would depend upon the common needs of the class and would vary with each group.
Many students do not understand the value of writing or its importance in careers, in note—taking or in other daily activities, It is the attempt of this unit to design interesting, thought-provoking stimuli to develop student opinions that will result in student concern for developing good writing skills to express themselves accurately. In the varied assignments, students will be encouraged to express personal opinions as well as to do research. This personal involvement, it is hoped, will encourage the students to develop a greater desire to improve such things as their method of expressing themselves, their vocabularies, their spelling and, consequently, their confidence and interest in expressing themselves well in writing. It is expected that personal satisfaction, too, will result as the students see their improvement with each writing assignment.
- 1. To give the students a basic knowledge of the causes and the results of the Civil War. The required readings (see student Bibliography) will achieve this purpose, but The Origins of the Civil War will be the primary sourcebook. The fact that war breaks out for a great number of reasons will be demonstrated, and the students will learn about the impact of the many complex political, economic, social, and psychological elements that historians have made us aware of over the years. The fact that even today many historians still disagree as to the basic causes of the Civil War, the reasons for the rise of the Abolitionists, the results of the Missouri Compromise, the limits of states’ rights, and the Compromise of 1850 will be discussed in relation to the outbreak of war. The legal process and its influence will be discussed with regard to the Civil War. Such legislation as the Fugitive Acts, the Dred Scott decision, and the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854 will be highlighted.
- ________The results of the Civil War will also be studied in readings and in paper writing. The failure of Reconstruction, the assassination of President Lincoln, and the resulting strengthening of the central government will be evaluated. In studying the results of the Civil War, students may begin to understand how little was resolved by it as well as its continuing effects on the present-day government.
- 2. To improve the students’ writing styles and expose them to varied writing experiences and to master basic writing skills such as using proper sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and appropriate diction. Although it is apparent that an objective of this nature might easily be a year’s curriculum in a high school English class, it is my opinion that without attempting to improve on the above, very little improvement will result. Since most tenth grade students have had basic instruction in grammar and the other basic writing skills mentioned, many of the common errors in their papers may be corrected in carefully planned class instruction that is pointed toward correcting their individual shortcomings. In other cases, where individuals are having serious difficulty with basic writing skills, individual discussions with these students will be held to remedy their problems.
- ________Whether through the reading of narratives or research materials, writing opinions on photographs or criticizing films, the students’ exposure to varied writing experiences will strengthen their individual writing styles and increase their competence in writing. Entire class periods can be spent on writing or re-writing individual papers.
- 3. To develop individual interest in writing.
- 4. To develop confidence in improving writing and research skills.
- 5. To demonstrate the importance of learning good writing techniques and to develop increased student responsibility in improving writing skills.
- 6. To encourage an appreciation for good writing and to develop a personal satisfaction for having achieved a certain competence in writing.
In the following pages a number of activities are presented to improve writing skills in Reading and Writing About the Civil War. I recommend that the activities be presented to a class in the order in which they are shown here as they are developmental. Each lesson is based upon knowledge and understanding of subject matter learned in the previous activity. This sequencing of activities also allows for the instructor to design lessons in grammar, paragraph structure, etc. and to space then in accord with the activity. The activities, naturally, can be varied in form to meet special interests of a class.
A research period in the library may follow in which the instructor should work among the students and help them to select from the research materials that information which is relevant and that which is not relevant in a short paper. After receiving each completed paper, the instructor will correct them, return them and, if necessary, request that his students re-write them after noting the errors. It is important here that those errors that are pointed out by the instructor will be the errors that the students will correct. The burden, then, to correct the papers in terms of research, accuracy of interpretation of the facts, grammar, spelling and so forth is placed on the instructor. The instructor, then, to maximize student improvement in writing, MUST take the initiative in correcting the papers thoroughly. Student improvement in writing skills is directly correlated to the instructor’s emphasis on spelling or grammar. Those facets of writing a teacher stresses will be the same facets the students will improve upon.
Your paper should be neatly written and, as always, it is recommended that you pay close attention to spelling, grammar, verb agreement and the like. Proof—read your papers. Include a bibliography written in proper form with your paper. A list of suggested Civil War era people that you may choose from follows. Your paper is due on (date).
Elizabeth Cady Stanton General Robert E. Lee Lucretia Mott General Ulysses S. Grant Dorothea Dix John Wilkes Booth William Lloyd Garrison General George McClellan Sojourner Truth Abraham Lincoln Henry Clay Frederick Douglas Harriet Beecher Stowe a slaveowner Dred Scott General William T. Sheridan John Brown Sarah Edmonds Stephen A. Douglas Jefferson Davis Harriet Tubman Belle Boyd Andrew Johnson Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney
The students might write down five questions that they feel comfortable with regarding their Civil War person. Then, each student will answer the questions on his own person (see Sample Assignment: Interviews). When each student feels that he can answer the questions, the instructor will interview the students asking each, any, or all of the five questions he/she has prepared. This role playing will bring into the foreground a number of issues including the South’s view of the Civil War, the Abolitionist movement, the Underground railroad, the Women’s movement, etc. The interplay of personalities, diverse opinions (Abraham Lincoln vs. Jefferson Davis, for example) will bring out many of the conflicts that resulted in the Civil War. If interest in the project continues, a videotape of a second interview may be held for which the students have already ‘rehearsed’ and are prepared for.
The interviews conducted should be presented in an autobiographical manner. The student should be playing the role of the person he/she has written on to maximize the effect of bringing out the various personalities and issues of the day. The students, it is hoped, will experience greater personal involvement with a particular aspect of the Civil War and will see that aspect in relation to the spirit of the times.
After writing down the five questions, answer each as well as you can. You may use any resource materials necessary to make your answers thorough. Five or six sentences should be sufficient for each question asked.
You will then be “interviewed” as if you were this Civil War person. You will be asked the five questions that you’ve already prepared.
You may use notecards if you wish during the interviewing.
Sample questions to be asked of Abraham Lincoln:.
- 1. How could the Civil War have been avoided?
- 2. Mr. Lincoln, why didn’t you favor the immediate abolition of slavery?
- 3. Why, Mr. Lincoln, did you suspend the right of Habeas Corpus in some places when it is guaranteed by the Constitution?
- ____How can you justify such action?
- 4. Why can’t states break away from the Union if they are not in agreement with it?
- 5. What do you feel was your greatest contribution as President of the United States?
Large volumes of Civil War photos are available in most public libraries (see sample bibliography). The students can be shown the photos and asked to select one on which to write. The writing assignment might be describe the action that is taking place in the photo, a dialogue between two of the people in the photo or a short story about the photo and the people in it. A series of three photos shown to the entire class for ten minutes each might be viewed. Each student then writes a paragraph about the photo describing the events that are taking place as if the student were the photographer.
To encourage vocabulary development, new words can be listed on the chalkboard that the student should include in his paper. Such words as muster, Confederate, conciliation, propaganda, emancipation or secession might lend themselves to a number of Civil War photos. The creative pursuits of the students in describing the photos will provide still another opportunity to strengthen the writing (and re-writing, if necessary) that this lesson is aimed at developing.
Angle, Paul, A Pictorial History of the Civil War, Garden City, New York, 1967.
Frassinito, William A., Gettysburg; A Journey in Time, New York, New York, 1975.
Horan, James D., Mathew Brady:. Historian With A Camera, New York, New York, 1955.
Ketchum, Richard M., The American Heritage Picture History-of the Civil War, New York, New York, 1960.
Kouwenhoven, John A., Adventures of America 1857-1900, New York, New York, 1938.
Lossing, Benson J., Mathew Brady’s Illustrated History of the Civil War, Washington, D.C., 1912.
Milhollen, Hirst and Kaplan, Milton, Divided We Fought: A Pictorial History of the War 1861-1865, New York, New York, 1961.
Pratt, Fletcher, Civil War in Pictures, New York, New York, 1955.
Whitmen, Walt, Specimen Days, Boston, Mass., 1971.
Wiley, Bell, The Common Soldier of the Civil War, New York, New York, 1975.
Famous people from the Civil War is one common theme found in the films. The films can be viewed by the class and then the students can write a paper on such topics as “How influential was Frederick Douglas as an abolitionist” or “Discuss some of Ulysses Grant’s Contributions as a General.”
A series of filmstrips on battles of the Civil War can be presented. The students can take notes on the filmstrips and afterwards write a paper on “Important Battles of the Civil War” or an opinion question such as “In your opinion, which battle of the Civil War was most significant? Why?” The topics of the papers naturally should vary with the ability of the group. Thought questions on the film “Causes of the Civil War” can be assigned to a group that is concentrating on improving such fundamental writing skills as sentence structure or grammar. A more sophisticated student could, having viewed selected films dealing with Black History, write a summary of the Blacks in America. An assignment such as this reinforces writing skills and historical information as well. It is particularly effective with minority students.
Any number of writing assignments can be developed by an instructor who effectively uses the Audio-Visual materials. The films will provide still another media aimed at stimulating thought and creativity among the students.
Lincoln and Douglas Reconstruction Period Causes of the Civil War From Africa to America From Bull Run to Antietam Slavery in the Young American Republic From Shiloh to Vicksburg Slavery in a House Divided Civil War at Sea Negro in the Civil War and Reconstruction Gettysburg Story of Abraham Lincoln Sherman’s March to the Sea Ulysses S. Grant
- Road to Appomattox
- Clara Barton
Filmstrip and Record:
Civil War A Nation Divided—America’s Trial Legacy of the Civil War and Agony Artillery in the Civil War High Tide of Valor-Darkest Hour Footsoldier in the Civil War then Peace How We Know About the Civil War Supporting Services in the Civil War Toll of the Civil War Afro-American’s Life from 1770-1861, War on Water part IIEli Whitney Changes America Civil War and Reconstruction, Part III Songs of Slavery Adventures in Negro History- Black Songs of the Civil War Frederick Douglas Years
- Frederick A. Douglas—Harriet Tubman
- One Nation Indivisible (parts I and lI)
- Abraham Lincoln (parts I and II)
- Frederick Douglas (parts I and II)
- Harriet Tubman-Underground Railway (part I and II)
- Out of Slavery 1619
- Land of Liberty (pa
- Civil War and Recon
- Sunset at Appomatto
After the students have read the accounts of the newspapers, they can write their own newspaper articles. They may choose any event that appeals to them from the war and write an article on it. They may decide to write an editorial on a particular topic that interests them such as the role of the Black soldier, the necessity to go to war, the need for the south to secede from the Union, or a criticism of Lincoln’s policies during the war. Several editorial topics can be selected by the students depending upon individual interests.
A news broadcast can be presented using the news articles. The students can present realistically up-to-the-moment developments on the war. Commercials advertising products of the day can augment the news broadcast. The students will often develop their own ideas for an activity like this to make it accurate and entertaining as well.
Students can create their own cartoons and posters. A paragraph describing the action and messages displayed can be included. The importance of the political cartoon and the strong appeal of the posters when designed by the students can provide them with a clear understanding of the importance of such media particularly during times of war.
The characterization can be fictional, of course, but realistic in that it portrays accurately the concerns of the times. When the plays are written and the students have had time to rehearse them, they can present the plays. If the topics of each play are arranged chronologically, they can be presented in that way. Otherwise, a series of loosely related Civil War era plays can do the job just as nicely. In any case, the students will learn about the Civil War and have still another opportunity to develop their writing ability.
Some suggested research topics for the plays include:
The variations of playwriting are endless. For example, four characters (whether real or fictional) could be traced in each of the plays. Each play, then, would have the same four characters experiencing another phase of the war. A battle scene, a soldier’s camp or enlisting in the army are some possibilities the same four characters could experience. Another possibility, of course, is to present the entire series of plays to another U.S. History class.
Freedom From the Plantation The War on the Water Surrender at Appomattox Spies in the Civil War Sherman’s March to the Sea Black Troops in the Civil War Women in the Civil War After the Battle of Gettysburg any battle scene The Secession of South Carolina From the Union
These narratives can be read aloud by the students to the entire group. Particularly if they are read successively, they can be thought-provoking and can lead to interesting group discussions wherein an exchange of perceptions and ideas can take place among the students.
Once the students’ imaginations have been sufficiently stimulated, the students can be asked to close their eyes and picture themselves living during the Civil War. After a few minutes of fantasizing about themselves involved in the war, they can be asked to describe themselves if they were living at that time. A student might see himself as a Colonel in the army, a freed slave, a nurse or even a wounded soldier lying on a battlefield. After the students have described themselves, they can be asked to write a narrative or even a short diary of their experiences, observations, prejudices and the like.
Writing narratives on the Civil War stimulates the imagination and, although fictional, student involvement with Civil War experiences is real. Whether based on fact or fiction, the writing gained can be meaningful to the student and can result in better written papers. Since the purpose of the lesson is largely to develop better writing skills, a fictional experience like this can bring about real developmental writing skills for the students.
The great lakes and the Mississippi River might also be included in the list.
Maine Vermont Virginia New Hampshire New York Alabama Massachusetts Tennessee Wisconsin Rhode Island Illinois Missouri Connecticut Iowa Texas Pennsylvania Louisiana Michigan West Virginia Oregon Georgia California New Jersey Florida North Carolina Maryland Indiana South Carolina Delaware Kentucky Mississippi Ohio Minnesota Arkansas Kansas
After the students have been given approximately fifteen minutes to try to match each state with its place on the map, they should be given time to check their work with an atlas or a map.
Next, the students will be asked to compose a list of the eleven states they think seceded from the Union. As the students call them off they can be listed on the chalkboard and, when completed, should include Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
Next, the students should be shown where the following places are on a wall map and then mark the places on their own maps. A short explanation of these significant places follows and will help the students understand where the action of the Civil War took place.
Fort Sumter Antietam Vicksburg Bull Run Fredericksburg Chickamauga Shiloh Chancellorsville Atlanta New Orleans Gettysburg Appomattox
- 1. Fort Sumter was the scene of the opening engagement of the Civil War that lasted from April 12 through April 14, 1861. Fort Sumter is located at the mouth of the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. No one was killed in this opening battle, but the action between the North and the South realized the belligerent spirit of both the Union and the Confederate armies.
- 2. Bull Run: Two important battles were fought here. The first battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861) was the first MAJOR engagement of the Civil War. Bull Run is the name of a small stream located in northeastern Virginia, about 30 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. The second battle of Bull Run was fought on August 29-30, 1862. Both battles were victories for the Confederate army.
- 3. The Battle of Shiloh fought on April 6-7, 1862 was one of the greatest battles of the Civil War. The battle took its name from Shiloh Church, a meetinghouse about three miles south southwest of Pittsburg Landing, a community in Hardin County, Tennessee. The Battle of Shiloh was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Losses in both the Confederate and Union troops exceeded 10,000 men. Ultimately, it is considered to be a Union victory.
- 4. New Orleans was captured by a Union naval squadron commanded by Rear Admiral David G. Farragut on April 27, 1862. This was considered by the North to be a significant victory because of the importance of the harbor city.
- 5. Battle of Antietam was fought in September, 1862. Antietam is located in northern Virginia not far from the Pennsylvania border. It is considered a Union victory in that the Confederate troops were stopped, but the casualties on both sides were considered enormous.
- 6. Battle of Fredericksburg was fought on December 13, 1862 at Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Union losses were more than 12,000 and were twice those of the Confederate troops. The defeat of the North in this campaign caused profound depression throughout the North.
- 7. The battle of Chancellorsville was fought on May 2-4, 1863. Chancellorsville is located ten miles west of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The South’s army was half the size the army of the North in this battle. General Lee’s Confederate troops emerged victorious in this battle.
- 8. Battle of Gettysburg was fought during the months of June-July, 1863. Gettysburg is located in southern Pennsylvania, near the Maryland line. General Lee, leading the southern troops, invaded the North and was met here by the Union troops led by General Ewell. Lee finally withdrew after a long and bloody series of conflicts leaving the North victorious. Both sides suffered over 20,000 casualties.
- 9. The Battle of Vicksburg lasted from November, 1862 until July, 1863. Vicksburg is located in Mississippi. After a series of battles, the Union army finally gained control of Vicksburg and the strategically important Mississippi River.
- 10. The Battle of Chickamauga was fought on September 19, 1863. Chickamauga is the name of a creek in northern Georgia and the battle was fought as part of the Chattanooga campaign. The North was victorious in this battle and by the end of 1863 it was clear that the North would win the war.
- 11. The battle of Atlanta was an overwhelming victory for the North under the leadership of General Sherman. Atlanta, Georgia, an important center for Confederate communications and supplies, fell to the Union armies on September 2, 1864. The city was almost totally burned to the ground by General Sherman before he began his famous march to the sea.
- 12. Appomattox is a town in central Virginia. At the Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865 General Robert E. Lee surrendered the remnants of the Army of North Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant. The surrender marked the virtual end of the war, as the remaining Confederate armies, on hearing of Lee’s capitulation, followed suit.
- 1. Abramowitz, Jack, American History, Chicago, 1979.
- 2. Cummins, D. Duane and White, William Gee, The Origins of the Civil War, Beverly Hills, 1972.
- 3. Donald, David, Why the North Won the Civil War, New York, 1960.
- 4. Olmstead, Frederick Law, The Slave States, New York, 1959.
Angle, Paul M. and Miers, Earl Schenck, Tragic Years 1860-1865, New York, New York, 1960.
Barker, Alan, The Civil War In America, New York, New York, 1961.
Basler, Roy P., A Short History of the American Civil War, New York, New York, 1967.
Botkin, B.A., A Civil War Treasury of Tales, Legends and Folklore, New York, New York, 1960.
Bradford, Ned, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, New York, New York, 1956.
Catton, Bruce, Terrible Swift Sword, New York, New York, 1963.
Davis, Burke, To Appomattox; Nine April Days, 1865, New York, New York, 1959.
Donald, David, Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War, New York, New York, 1960.
Douglas, Henry Kyd, I Rode With Stonewall, Chapel Hill, No. Carolina, 1940.
Dupuy, Colonel Ernest R., The Compact History of the Civil War, New York, New York, 1961.
Foote, Shelby, The Civil War; A Narrative, New York, New York, 1958. Kane, Harnett T., SPIES for the Blue and Gray, New York, New York, 1954. McElroy, John, This Was Andersonville, New York, New York, 1957.
Strother, Horatio T., The Underground Railroad in Connecticut, Middletown, Conn., 1962.
*All of these books are located in the Main Branch of the New Haven Public Library.
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