September 18, 2012

Newspapers, Past and Present

At the start of the school morning, while I'm trying to get Garrett onto the bus and off to school, Casia likes to read the news and send me links to articles she would like to discuss over 'Second Breakfast'. Being part Hobbit, after breakfasting with her brother at 7am, she likes to join me and breakfast again at 8am. This morning she sent me a link to a CNN article about the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in U.S. war history.

This was a very serendipitous article and although I wasn't surprised that it caught Casia's attention, (we are in the midst of studying the Civil War) I was pleasantly surprised by the timing. Sure, CNN posted it today because it's the actual anniversary, but for me, it's also the day that I had planned a history lesson with just this topic and involving a newspaper.

We started history this afternoon by watching the third episode in Ken Burn's The Civil War. The Battle of Antietam, as well as the Emancipation Proclamation was covered in this episode. The movie included many of the photographs by Alexander Gardner showing images, some of them very disturbing, from before and during the battle, as well as the aftermath. In conjunction with the Ken Burn's series, PBS has some classroom activities that it provides: The Civil War Classroom Materials. I ran across this a couple months ago while planning this years curriculum and even though I have to adjust it for a classroom of one, I still thought it had a lot of cool and exciting activities I could incorporate. 

Casia is using Gardner's picture, "Confederate Dead Along Hagerstown Pike". After analyzing the photo (there are more available on the National Park Service website), filling out the worksheet, and a discussion of the battle, Casia is now writing a newspaper article about the Battle of Antietam. Her assignment is to be a journalist from either a Northern or Southern newspaper and she has been given the photo and she has to write a story to go long with it. 

I love how this assignment combines video, primary source analysis, writing, a bit of creativity, and corresponds fortuitously with a current event (anniversary celebration). She's pretty excited about it, as excited as she ever gets about writing assignments, and I'm looking forward to see what she produces! 

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