Civil War
Lesson Plan

Impressions of an Era

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Activity 1: Day 1

  1. As students enter the room they should see the following up on the screen or board: The American Civil War 1861-1865.
  2. Break the class into groups of five students.
  3. Provide each group a piece of newsprint and a marker.
  4. Ask each group to list on the newsprint five things that they already know about the Civil War and then post the newsprint on the wall. 
  5. Debrief with each group as a class and compare group responses.
  6. Provide each student with a 3 x 5 index card and ask them to write down a question about something which they would like to know more about the Civil War.  Discuss as a class.
  7. Write the following categories on the board or project on the screen: "Cause", "Leader", "Technology", "Impact of War"
  8. Show a quick PowerPoint of several images relating to the Civil War and ask students to identify the image placing it into one of the above listed categories.  Images might include but would not be limited to photographs of Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, A Springfield rifle, a woodcut of a telegraph line being laid, an iron ship, slaves laboring in a field, a medical field surgical kit, an image of the US Constitution and Emancipation Proclamation, and post-battle dead. 
  9. Show the entire class the In4 video The War Between the States.
  10. Have the students pull from a hat, kepi or slouch, if possible, the name of one of the following In4 videos found in our digital resources and watch for homework:
  • Soldier Life
  • Emancipation Proclamation
  • Naval Technology
  • Gettysburg Address
  • Civil War Medicine
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • Military Engagements
  • Artillery
  • Black Soldiers 

As part of their homework assignment, students will need to locate a primary source related to their topic and tied to specific location.  Students will present this information the next day in class.

Activity 2: Day 2

  1. On the next day in class repost the four categories as detailed above and ask students to add information that they learned from watching the videos to the respective categories – some students may discover that items or objects belong in more than one category.
  2. Have students present the primary source that they located for homework to their classmates.
  3. Provide each student a blank map template of the United States still divided into Union States and Confederate States.
  4. Ask students to identify locations on the map that relate to in4 video that they watched
  5. Show the class the IN4 video War in the East and ask students to locate and indicate on their maps the sites of the major battles mentioned in the film – students may need a battle reference sheet (see page 107 Goal 6 in HS CG for list). Give students time to complete the map.
  6. Next show the class the IN4 video War in the West and have them on their maps repeat what they did for war in the East.
  7. As a class ask the students in which region of the United States most of the battles were fought and offer some ideas as to hypothesize why there were more battles in the South than in the North.
  8. Ask students to now indicate on a 3 x 5 card something "new" that they learned about the Civil War based on this activity. And on the other side to indicate something that they once more wish to know about the Civil War. Have students visit the Civil War Trust website to find answers to their questions – try doing this in class with mobile lap top labs or have students use their digital devices if necessary.
  9. Post on the board or by a projector on a screen the following: "Prior Knowledge" and "New Information" and as a class complete each topic with what they already knew prior to the lesson and then new knowledge that they learned.