Civil War Lesson Plan: Exploring the Real Issues

Submitted by: Sara Crawford

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-8, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the major issues associated with the Civil War (e.g. slavery, states’ rights, South seceded from the Union.) Students will also identify the main idea and supporting details in expository text and use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Recognize the major issues associated with the Civil War (e.g. slavery, states’ rights, South seceded from the Union).
  2. Identify the main idea and supporting details in expository text.
  3. Use a variety of sources (e.g., trade books, encyclopedias, magazines, atlases, almanacs, electronic source, textbooks) to answer specific questions and/or gather information.

Materials:

  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Photocopies of all downloadable resources

Vocabulary:

Secede; confederacy; union; Emancipation Proclamation; slavery; states’ rights

Preparation:

Make a class set of photocopies for each of the materials listed at the bottom of this lesson plan under 'Downloadable Resources'.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. To help introduce students to the upcoming activity and assess how much they already know, engage them in a discussion about the Civil War. Project either the Civil War Graphic Organizer or the Civil War Causes Graphic Organizer for the class to see, and type student responses into the form. You can use the Major Facts page to help students make connections to prior knowledge.
  2. Teach the course content for the Civil War using a variety of resources available to you. You may wish to show the Civil War movie and corresponding Quiz. The Civil War Causes movie and Quiz may also be useful. These can be explored as a whole group, individually, or in several small group sessions.
  3. Have children use the Student Research form from the Downloadable Resources to help them conduct research on the people and issues of the Civil War. They may work individually or in small groups. Good sites for research include Civil War Trust, Civil War Websites for Kids, and Civil War Clipart (which can be used as a source for images in student slideshows.)
  4. Check students' research forms for accuracy and ensure they have chosen a historical person from the provided list.
  5. If desired, have students create mind maps to organize their information. They can complete these using Kidspiration on school computers, or Idea Sketch on the iPod Touch and iPad. Encourage the use of Google Docs for storing and sharing information.
  6. Next, have students create a slideshow using SonicPics. The Slideshow Script from the downloadable resources can aid students in this process.
  7. Be sure to review the project rubric (also from the downloadable resources below) and make sure students understand the parameters for the projects. They must include key vocabulary, state the issues associated with the Civil War, explain the contributions of a selected person, include a chart or graph that they created, and give the project their personal touch.
  8. Assist students as they complete their projects. Help them search for images using a Creative Commons search, Flickr, or sources found on FreeMedia. Encourage the class to use Comic Touch Lite, Doodle Buddy, and Adobe Photoshop Express to enhance their photos. Make sure students have created a photo credit page to go at the end of their slideshows.
  9. Allow students to share their slideshows either in live presentations or online.