American History Inspirer: The Civil War

By Dunn, Agnes | MultiMedia Schools, September/October 1998 | Go to article overview

American History Inspirer: The Civil War


Dunn, Agnes, MultiMedia Schools


Company: Tom Snyder Productions, 80 Coolidge Road, Watertown, MA 02172-2817; Customer Service: 800/ 342-0236; Fax: 617/926-6222; Technical Support: 800/342-0236 or Tech@ TeachTSP.com;www.teachtsp.com. Price: $80-Macintosh or Windows four-diskette set or CD-ROM; network and site licenses available. Audience: Recommended for grades 5-12.

Format: Diskettes: text, drawings, maps, animation, sound System Requirements: PC minimum is a 486 processor or higher, Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, 8 MB RAM, and 256-color monitor with 640x480 resolution. Macintosh requires 68030 processor or higher, System 7.1 or later, 4 MB RAM, and a 256-color monitor with 640x480 resolution or higher.

Description: American History Inspirer: The Civil War is the latest release in the Inspirer series. This game takes teams of students on a scavenger hunt through the antebellum and Civil War eras. Using six thematic maps, timelines, and a travel log, students plan the most efficient journeys from state to state and between time periods. Students win points when they successfully visit states with characteristics that match computer-generated assignments and within the prescribed number of moves. There are three levels of difficulty, and the emphasis throughout is on exploring geographic themes through group decision-making.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: I tested this software on a Macintosh LC 520 with 80 MB hard drive, 8 MB of memory, and System 7.1. I inserted the first of four disks and double-clicked on the installer icon. The on-screen instructions prompted me to change disks when needed. This was a very simple process. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: American History Inspirer: The Civil War lets students apply geographic concepts within a historical context in a fun way. Westward expansion, slavery, and the contrasting economies of the North and South in the antebellum period provide the thematic framework. Students study trends in population, agriculture, and industry. Six thematic maps ranging from 1820 to 1865 and a timeline provide information on the various topics.

Working in groups, students study maps to complete their assignment. As the teacher, you can custom design an investigation and program it into the game format to coordinate with your own curriculum. You can use this program with the whole class, a single team, or a multi-team rotation.

I used this software in my junior U.S. history class. Using a single computer, I assigned each of seven groups a random starting location and year, two thematic characteristics, and a final destination. One group planned their first trip while another group cycled through the computer station to get their assignment. Next, groups returned to the computer to collect points using their completed travel logs.

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