Teaching the Civil War is a favorite of mine. I grew up near a major Civil War battlefield. In hindsight, I credit that to my current passion for history. I think many teachers can share in that sentiment and that passion for their subject. Our students however, are another story. How do we as educators, make our subject “pop” for our students? For History teachers; how do we make the past come alive? Here is one such way.
I’ve recently stumbled across a website entitled History Animated. This website gives students a narrative history for the major battles of the Civil War, Revolutionary War, and World War II (both Europe and Pacific). A narrative of these battles is nothing new but History Animated takes it a step further. Each narrative is wonderfully displayed through the use of maps and graphics that take the readers through each stage of the battle. In History Animated’s own words:
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a good animation is worth ten thousand. After reading book after book about the Pacific War and finding only complicated maps with dotted lines and dashed lines crisscrossing the pages, we decided to depict the key naval and land battles using animation technology.
The use of animation is an intriguing concept to use while teaching. Teachers can narrate the battles as they happen before the students’ eyes; or teachers can simply assign an independent study of the battles using the website. Included with the narrative are assorted facts of history that allow students to click off of the battle and explore more micro concepts. The animation puts the students in control essentially. Which allows the students to advance at his/her own pace as they progress.
With this assignment, a great RAFT project can be assigned by having students keep a “Civil War Diary” and write from a soldier’s POV at the conclusion of each day.