Defining us: The American Experience

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Defining US: The American Experience

FCPS Teaching American History Grant

Short Extended

1st draft _____ _____

revision _____ _X____


Subject: Social Studies Grade: 4th

Prepared by: Heather Martins School: Beech Tree ES

Title or Topic: Civil War

Instructional Time: 3 – 4 days

  1. Essential Learning: (Big picture/concept to be learned.)

There were differences between northern and southern states.

  • The economy in the northern part of the United States was industrialized, while in the southern part it was agricultural and relied on slave labor.

  • Northern states wanted the new states created out of the western territory to be “free states,” while the southern states wanted the new states to be “slave states.”

Prior knowledge (background knowledge):

  • Tobacco was used as money during colonial times. A tobacco farmer could use his tobacco to pay for goods and services.

  • The economy of the Virginia colony depended on agriculture as a primary source of wealth.

  • Tobacco was sold in England as a cash crop.

  • The successful planting of tobacco depended on a reliable and inexpensive source of labor.

  • Large numbers of Africans were brought to the colony against their will to work as slaves on the plantations.

  • The Virginia colony became dependent on slave labor, and the dependence lasted a long time.


  • Conflict grew between the eastern counties of Virginia that relied on slavery and western counties that favored abolition of slavery.

  • The disagreement between the two regions of the state led to the formation of West Virginia.

  1. Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL): (Identify by number and descriptor.)

Vs.7a – The student will demonstrate knowledge of the issues that divided our nation and led to the Civil War by identifying the events and difference between northern and southern states that divided Virginians and led to secession, war, and the creation of West Virginia.

3. Fairfax County Program of Studies (POS): (Identify by number and descriptor.)
1: Students acquire knowledge and understanding of important events and developments in Virginia and Fairfax County and their influence on United Stated history.

  1. Describe the social, political, and economic life of groups of Virginians throughout history.

  1. Examine the significance of major events in Virginia and Fairfax County including the role of Virginia in the Civil War.

  1. National History Standard (Historical Thinking Standard)

(See handouts from January 12 seminar)

2: Historical Comprehension

3: Historical Analysis and Interpretation

4: Historical Research Capabilities

  1. Learning Strategy(s) Objectives:

(See handouts from January 12 seminar)

1: Tell What You Know: Students are activating prior knowledge by making connections between the words on the board.

3: Make Inferences: Students will make inferences to fill out the Venn diagram.

4: Use Selective Attention: They need to read/scan their Social Studies textbook for specific information.

5: Use Resources: Students will use their Social Studies books, notes, and the internet to write their poems.

9: Take Notes: Students will take notes on the differences between the northern and southern states.

10: Cooperate: Students will have to work in groups to complete their poems.

  1. Connection to TAH grant:

Content: Slavery and Freedom

Pedagogy: Reader’s Theater


  1. Assessment:

Rubric for Reader’s Theater. (attachment a)

  1. Instructional Strategies:

Day 1 (45 Min)

  • Write words on board: economy, industrialized, agriculture, slave labor, northern states, southern states, new states, “free states”, and “slave states”. Have students make connections between the words to activate their back ground knowledge.

  • Students will fill out a Venn diagram (attachment b) on the similarities and differences between the northern and southern states.

  • Students will illustrate the differences between the northern and southern states using construction paper. The top half of the paper will represent the northern states and the bottom half will represent the southern states. On the top, the students will draw textile factories, lumber industries, and a more industrial society. On the bottom, the students will draw tobacco farms, plantations, cotton plantations, and a more agricultural society.

  • The students who finish early can apply the information they just learned to the creation of West Virginia. They can use Mapmaker’s Toolkit to illustrate the difference in beliefs on slavery between the two regions.

Day 2

  • Introduce Reader’s Theater to students.

  • Give the students the Reader’s Theater directions (attachment c) and rubric and explain to the students what they will do:

      • The students will work in groups of 4.

      • Using the notes they took on day 1 and their text book, they will collaboratively write the poem for two voices.

      • Pass out and read the example of Oklahoma excerpt (attachment d).

      • Students work together in groups.

Day 3

  • Students continue to work in groups. Allow students time to research more information on designated websites:

  • Students will finish their poems and rehearse.

Day 4

  • Students will present their poems to the class.

  1. Materials/Resources to be used:

  • Rubric for Reader’s Theater

  • Directions for Reader’s Theater

  • Venn Diagram

  • Oklahoma excerpt

  • Computers

  1. Differentiation:

ESOL and Special Ed students – Have students “act out” connections. Allow students to draw and label their ideas in the Venn Diagram. Pair lower students with higher students. There will be extra support from ESOL and LD Teacher.

Enrichment – Student can create his/her own Reader’s Theater for the creation of West Virginia.

  1. Attachments: (Include copies of assessments, rubrics, handouts that support this lesson.)

  • Rubric for Reader’s Theater

  • Directions for Reader’s Theater

  • Venn Diagram

  • Oklahoma excerpt

  1. Annotated Bibliography: – The Valley of the Shadow - Digital History – Search Engine


Rubric for Reader’s Theater

Directions: Circle the number that applies.

no a little yes

1. Did the opening “Both” statement reflect agreement by both voices? 1 2 3

  1. Is there a “Both” Statement near the middle that reflects agreement? 1 2 3

  1. Is there a closing “Both” statement upon which both sides agree? 1 2 3

  1. Is the topic introduced effectively? 1 2 3

Is there a conclusion that emphasizes and/or summarizes the conflict?

Reader’s Theater

Create a poem with two voices. One voice will be from the northern states the other voice will be from the southern states.

  1. Write a title for your poem.

  1. Begin with a statement both sides make together.

  1. Write 5 – 8 pairs of statements showing how the sides disagree (10 – 16 total statements).

  1. In the middle, one or twice, have another statement both make together.

  1. End with a statement both make together.

If desired, a narrator can be added to give historical background/context to introduce the poem.

Northern States Southern States


Farmer Both Cowman

The farmer and the cowman should be friends

Oh, The farmer and the cowman should be friends
One man likes to push a plow
The other likes to chase a cow
But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends
I’d like to say a word for the farmer

He come out west and made a lot of changes

He come out west and built a lot of fences

And built them right across our cattle ranges

But the farmer and the cowman should be friends

Oh, The farmer and the cowman should be friends
The cowman ropes a cow with ease

The farmer steals her butter and cheese

But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends
Territory folks should stick together
Territory folks should all be pals
Cowboys dance with the farmers’ daughters

Farmers, dance with the ranchers’ gals

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