Teaching with the Internet: The Civil War. (Middle/High School Software/Web Sites)

By Kurtz, Alice | Multimedia Schools, January-February 2002 | Go to article overview
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Teaching with the Internet: The Civil War. (Middle/High School Software/Web Sites)

Kurtz, Alice, Multimedia Schools

Located online at http://twi.class room.com/civilwar/.

Source: Classroom Connect, 2221 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 221, El Segundo, CA 90245; Phone: 800/638-1639; Web site: http://www.classroomconnect.com/.

Access Fee: $19.95, one-time subscription fee. Includes access to the Web site and a printed Teacher's Guide book.

Audience: Publisher recommends grades 5-12; reviewer recommends grades 5-8.

Format: Internet lesson plans and classroom activity book with a companion Web site.

System Requirements: Computer with an Internet connection.

Description: Teaching with the Internet: The Civil War includes both print and online resources. The printed Teacher's Guide provides complete, Internet-enhanced lessons on specific topics of the American Civil War. Each lesson plan provides an Internet component and background-building information, activity sheets, and extensions to the lesson that can be used for enrichment. Each lesson highlights at least one specific Web site central to the lesson. The Teaching with the Internet: The Civil War Web site provides direct links to these sites.

Reviewer Comments:

Access: The main Web site is easily accessed and its list of links follows the order of the lessons in the guidebook. However, some of the links for specific lessons are broken or are embedded in extensive WebQuests that would make the portion needed for a lesson difficult for younger students to locate. Access Rating: B+

Content/Features: The printed guide gives the user step-by-step directions for using an Internet Web site to enrich lessons about the Civil War. Each lesson follows a similar format. An overview of the lesson is presented, along with objectives and needed materials. A procedure section explains use of the Web site and discusses any background knowledge that needs to be built by the teacher. Additional activities also use Web sites to either extend the lesson or provide more depth. Activity sheets that act as graphic organizers are provided with the lessons.

A good span of topics is covered. Lessons range from "Riding the Underground Railroad," to "Women in the Civil War," to "Weapons of War," to "What's for Dinner?" More than 22 topics are offered. The lessons do not focus exclusively on many battles, other than Fort Sumter, the Battle of the Ironclads, and accounts in personal letters.

Many of the linked Web sites use primary source documents and original photos. This is one of the important contributions that the Internet makes to education. Some of the Web sites are portions of WebQuests designed by other students.

In the lesson titled "A Soldier's Letter," students are asked to view the war through the eyes of the soldiers. The lesson directs the teacher to lay groundwork by teaching about the Battle of Fredericksburg. The necessary information is provided in the guide. After discussion, students open a specific Web site that has personal letters of a Confederate soldier named Isaac Howard.

After reading the letters, students are asked to pretend that they are Howard's father and are writing back to their son. The lesson provides a Web site that will allow students to read personal accounts from various battles including Manassas, Vicksburg, Spotsylvania, and others.

Extensions for this lesson allow students to research a battle and write letters to their parents as if they were soldier participants, create maps of battles, and design a battle flag after examining a specified Web site featuring the battle flags of the Confederate Army.

The lessons are divided into sections for 4th-6th grade, 7th-9th grade, and 9th-12th grade. Overall, however, there is not enough differentiation between the segments to make this distinction in grade levels necessary.

A lesson called "Music of the Civil War," for example, is found in the 9-12 grouping.

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