Monday, August 29, 2011
The goal of this lesson is to make students aware of the dangers of gender stereotyping and the media's role in perpetuating gender stereotypes. This lesson was prepared by
Saturday, August 20, 2011
~Peggy's Corner - 8/18/2011~
After reading Joann’s post on heroic journeys, I realized that these soldiers are truly heroes in every sense of the word. They embarked on the archetypal heroic journey, as described by Joseph Campbell. They left their normal lives to go and complete challenging tasks in an unfamiliar world. These 30 heroes were unable to finish the journey and return home to their normal lives, a loss that is mourned throughout the country. Heroism is not a new concept, and it is not limited to wartime. With the focus on heroism in the news right now, teachers can use these current events as in introduction to studying the plight of heroes in current and classic literature.
Whether your students find heroes in soldiers, sports icons, fictional film or literary characters, or even family members or friends, their relationship with these personal heroes can help them understand how a hero’s character is built. Stories of heroes and the classic heroic journey transcend cultural lines, and can be found in literature throughout the ages. There are some great resources available on The Gateway to 21st Century Skills to help your students integrate their study of heroes into many different subject areas. The resources use all different types of media to bring heroism alive for your students.
If current events won’t hook your students into the study of heroes, the heroism in some of their favorite movies might. The Star Wars movies are good examples of a hero’s journey, and many of your students have probably seen the films. This lesson from the PBS American Masters uses Star Wars to explore the characteristics of a hero and study the concepts of good versus evil. I like how this resource includes a project and allows students to be creative through artwork.
~Peggy's Corner - 8/12/2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
We study history to learn from other people’s mistakes and successes. More importantly than learning the facts about particular historical events, we want students to form connections with the history they are studying so they can apply the lessons to their own lives. In order to do this, we can help students compare and contrast historical characters and events to current events and people. The featured resources on The Gateway to 21st Century Skills this week employ creative techniques for the study of the American Civil War. Using these resources with some of the following ideas will help you frame the war in a contemporary way and connect the learning to things currently affecting students’ lives.
To help your students put the Civil War into perspective, it might be helpful to compare the statistics with events that have happened during your students’ lives. Without this type of comparison, the numbers and facts can seem very abstract and it can be hard for students to identify with the war. It’s hard to believe that 7,000 men died in the first twenty minutes of one battle in the war. Is there anything in our more recent history that we can use to help us wrap our mind around that number? To put it into a more current perspective, nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on September 11, 2001. The devastation of that loss in our nation is still fresh in students’ minds, and it illustrates the impact that the loss of over twice that many people would have on a small but growing nation. By the end, the total deaths during the civil war reduced the American population by 2%. Based on today’s national population of over 300 million people, a civil war today with the same percentage of fatalities would claim 6 million lives. Wow. This number is astronomical compared to the thousands of Americans killed in action in current conflicts.
Comparing statistics with current numbers can help students get a big-picture idea of how the civil war compares to current conflicts. Creating a personal connection to the events can come about when students get to know the characters involved. One fun way to do this is to have your students create a fake Facebook profile detailing the person’s life. Free Technology for Teachers, a blog I read regularly, explains three different ways to do this. Students can present their Facebook pages to the class, and they can be creative with the status updates and information they use to present their character. You can also let your students choose other ways to present information about historical events and characters. Some ideas to suggest to your students are a mock job interview or news interview, a political speech, or writing and illustrating a historical fiction story about the event.
As students begin to know and understand more about the people involved in the Civil War, they might be able to gain some empathy toward them. Today we see how tragic it is when our service members are injured and killed in conflict. This tragedy was magnified in earlier wars where the death toll was magnitudes greater. An empathy for the people and a connection to their plight will help students learn from the mistakes and successes of major historical events like the American Civil War.
~Peggy's Corner - August 4, 2011~
The American Civil War remains one of the saddest chapters in U.S. history. It lasted for four years, divided a nation and some families, and forever shaped the American psyche. For many people, it was a war of horrible necessity – a last resort when political and cultural ideologies clashed, and all hopes for a peaceful resolution faded. While the vast majority of battles were fought in southern and mid-Atlantic states, it was also a war that saw conflicts around the country in places like Vermont, New Mexico, and Florida. Virtually no family in the nation was left unscathed, as sons, fathers, husbands, and neighbors either enlisted or were drafted to fight their countrymen. The death toll from the war was immense, and it remains the deadliest war in U.S. history. Over 620,000 soldiers were killed in the war (about 2% of the total U.S. population at that time), as were countless civilians. At the Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia, for example, 7,000 men alone died within the first 20 minutes of battle.
The American Civil War meant different things to different people. The moral and ethical questions regarding slavery was obviously a hotly-contested issue in both political and civilian circles, and certainly played a vital role in the war. While classrooms tend to focus on the desire to end slavery as the primary cause of the American Civil War, historians draw a much more complex picture, and cite numerous reasons for the conflict. Economics played a role, as the American South remained agrarian and the North became increasingly industrialized, factors which inflamed already divisive cultural tensions. Many southern states viewed the “Northern Aggression” as a quest to undermine a deeply-entrenched way of life and tradition, and an attempt to wrest economic control from profitable plantations. Northerners in turn felt strongly that the economic benefits of a free labor market would best suit the nation. Others felt that the federal government had overstepped its bounds, and that states should be allowed to exercise greater rights for their constituents. Opponents to this view countered that the federal government needed greater control in order to move the country as a whole forward in the world economy and set a standard for human dignity and justice. Still others fought to preserve a nation and reclaim states that had seceded, in the hopes that the country could mend itself and become a world leader.
Teaching about the Civil War has benefits that extend beyond U.S. history classes. It was the first truly “modern” war, where both sides relied on mass-produced weapons, hot-air balloons for surveillance, submarines, railroads, and other technologies. A great deal of literature, poetry, music, and poignant letters came out of the war, as well as new therapies and treatments in medicine. Examination of the economics of war, battle strategies, and the fundamental quest for human dignity and civil rights are all rich topics for students to explore. This week I’ve highlighted three resources on the American Civil War from the Gateway’s collection, and will feature many more lesson plans, activities, and information throughout the week on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Please be sure to check those pages and let us know what you think.
Map the Civil War Lesson Plan
Subjects: U.S. History, Math, Geography
Mapmakers were very important to Civil War generals. The generals used maps to figure out how to move their armies from one place to another, and how to trap the enemy forces against rivers or high bluffs. If the maps were wrong, the army could be late getting to a battle…or worse. In this activity, students will be mapmakers. Their job is to survey the land for their general so they can pick sheltered places for their army to camp and open areas where they can march and fight. This activity was created by The Civil War Trust, which is America's largest non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of endangered Civil War battlefields. The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war's history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it.
The Battle of Honey Springs: The Civil War Comes to Indian Territory http://www.thegateway.org/browse/dcrecord.2009-01-29.7001785986
Subjects: U.S. History
Learn how the Civil War created fierce conflicts among American Indian nations who had been moved across the Mississippi River. This lesson could be used in teaching units on the Civil War, particularly the war in the West, on Native American history, or on cultural diversity. This lesson was produced by the National Park Service (NPS), a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The NPS oversees America’s national parks, as well as provides educational resources on American history and places to the public.
On the Eve of War: North vs. South http://www.thegateway.org/browse/dcrecord.2011-07-18.9381504421
Subjects: Economics, U.S. History
This lesson will examine the economic, military, and diplomatic strengths and weaknesses of the North and South on the eve of the Civil War. In making these comparisons students will use maps and read original documents to decide which side, if any, had an overall advantage at the start of the war. This lesson is a product of EDSITEment, an educational outreach program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. EDSITEment offers lesson plans and activities for social studies, literature and language arts, foreign languages, art, culture, and history classrooms.
~Joann's Picks - August 4, 2011~