Making American History Lessons Engaging in the Classroomn
Teachers can make their Civil War lessons interesting and pertinent by asking students to go beyond memorizing facts. These activities will help your students to increase their learning.
Activities to Make Lessons Relevant
The war between the states that put brother against brother lasted from 1861-1865 and included over 5050 battles, with 50 battles counted as major battles. It is a major landmark in United State's history and includes many important war heroes, battles, and events.
However, this war on American soil happened a long time ago, and some students do not see the importance of this historical event. Also, some students do not understand why it is important to learn about our history that includes successes and failures.
The key is to make lesson plans relevant to the students' lives or to allow them to learn in ways that they enjoy. For example, students can work in groups to argue a case, write creatively or use the Internet and computer to create a PowerPoint.
Set up a Mock Classroom Court Room
Students will need to complete research before making the classroom a courtroom. The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois website has great directions to set up a mock trial. The following are a few ideas for trials:
- Should Robert E. Lee have been tried for treason? He was originally a Union soldier and then became the general for the Confederacy.
- Who was right, the South or the North? Students could choose a historical representative from each side to "stand trial" and be judged on who was right and who was wrong.
- Was Trace Sherman a hero or a villain?
Writing about the Historic Event
Reading textbook and memorizing information is not enough. Students can complete Civil War creative writing activities to analyze or better understand events in the war. One of the easiest ways to write about it is to complete a research paper about a battle, prison camps, or an important person in the war.
Make a PowerPoint Using Digital Photos
The Library of Congress has photos on its Prints and Photographs Division of the American Memories section. Students can learn a great deal about the the war by visiting this site. In addition, they can use the photos to create powerful PowerPoint presentations .
The photo included with this article is from July 1861 and is a view of the battlefield of First Bull Run in Virginia from the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.