Social Studies Wednesdays: Civil War Day recap

Social Studies Wednesdays

Some thoughts about  Civil War Day:
  • Living history presentations are worth all the trouble it takes to find, fund and organize them.  Every one of our students learned so much from our presenter, even how to drill!   This made learning so much more meaningful when we were back in our classroom on Monday learning about the battles and the rigors of soldiers’ lives.

  • Having access to authentic artifacts students can touch and interact with engages even the most disinterested student.  Just about everyone wanted to try these on:
There was something inherently interesting about donning the entire uniform – which has led to great conversations about what it was really like for the men during battle and marching towards battle.  
  • Inquiry as a basis for social studies learning has to be a part of lesson planning from day one.  Students in my class are used to studying maps, political cartoons, music and paintings as part of every unit of study.  The Gettysburg Trunk rotation was my “station” during Civil War Day, and I couldn’t help but notice that there were students from some of the other  classes who really did not know what to make of the artifacts – they kept looking to me for direction…what should they do with all this stuff?  My kids just dove right in – they knew to examine the artifacts through the lens we had explored all year: what do these items tell me about the time period, about the lives these people lived and the choices they were given/had to make?  This type of thinking takes lots of practice, but it’s well worth the time invested.
  • A good balance between presentations and hands on learning makes the day much more enjoyable for the kids.  The music, art and dance activities organized by our exploratory arts teachers was exactly what our day needed.  Sometimes it is difficult to make cross curricular connections, and sometimes it is just impossible to get every department on board for a day such as this, but when it can be done (thanks to supportive, generous colleagues) the experience is so much more meaningful for our kids.
  • Take notes about everything because…there is always room for improvement next year!
 Linda at TeacherDance shares a wonderful idea about how to  integrate some creative writing into  units of study, by sharing passages of poetry so that students could create poetic epitaphs to show important aspects of a character’s  biography.
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3 thoughts on “Social Studies Wednesdays: Civil War Day recap

  1. Well, Tara, you and I are enjoying this, at least I know I am. I love hearing about your Civil War day. It is so much fun to pretend, which is exactly what some of this is. I remember reading Cold Mountain and worrying so much about his feet as he journeyed home. The shoes were so badly made. Our students too love the real thing & it's critical to help them imagine the past that they're reading about. This is part of what I wrote about today, imagining. Here is my post for the day: http://teacherdance.blogspot.com/2012/06/learning-history-by-imagining.html

  2. Oh, I love this idea for Social Studies! I've used it as a closure activity for biography book clubs , but never thought to incorporate this in history…in which in would work very well, too. Thanks, Linda!

  3. These two statements really stood out for me:#1 Inquiry as a basis for social studies learning has to be a part of lesson planning from day one.#2 A good balance between presentations and hands on learning makes the day much more enjoyable for the kids.These are key statements for any subject just not SS. Thanks for the reminder also about important taking notes because I am already trying to improve for next year.

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