Teaching for Understanding Unit Redesign

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Teaching for Understanding

Unit Redesign

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Title of Unit

The Civil War


Grade Level

Third Grade


Subject Areas

Social Studies



This unit will focus on the events leading up to, during, and the time period after the Civil War known as reconstruction. It will also discuss South Carolina’s specific role in the war. The students will discuss how the war affected people’s daily lives in the North and South. They will also discuss and research the racial tensions and advancements of African Americans during this time. The essential questions that will be covered in this unit are:

  • Do we have to fight wars? Why or why not?

  • Was the Civil War unavoidable?

  • How can countries avoid the kind of bloodshed and devastation we experienced during our Civil War?

This particular unit topic is a generative topic because it will allow students to be successful in obtaining and applying their understanding of the Civil War itself and how it relates to other interdisciplinary studies within the third grade curriculum.

The students will be introduced to this topic in a way that interests them, while relating to their own schema of their everyday experiences whether they are personal or educational. One example of how their interest will be peaked is through role playing scenarios where the students will create real life examples of conflict and adapt them to imitate events leading up to, as well as, during the Civil War. They will then be asked to perform these scenarios for the other students in the classroom.

This topic is also considered to be generative because I myself as an educator have a real personal interest and enthusiasm for teaching the topic of the Civil War. History is one of my favorite subject areas and the Civil War is a topic that has aroused my own curiosity as a student and as an educator. During my years as a student and later during my own instructional planning time as an educator I found myself wanting to know and learn more about this specific topic. My own need for research and further knowledge prompted me to think outside the box and create new ways of presenting “the same old tired curriculum” I had seen as a student.

I also consider this topic to be generative because there are many resources that I will use during my instruction that will integrate the use of technology, as well as be age appropriate for third grade learners. Some examples of these will include a stream line video series called Detective Bonz which allows the students to be investigators who travel back in time to explore the history of the Civil War in South Carolina. Also I will use flipcharts and power point presentations that I have created about the causes and effects of the Civil War to be used on my smart board. This will allow for the students to interact with the material in a physical, verbal, and auditory manner.

My generative topic will be aligned with South Carolina curriculum standards and will be presented in a variety of ways so that all learners, no matter what their level, will benefit from my instruction. Some of the instructional strategies will include visual aids such as power point presentations, flip charts, and streamline videos. Auditory learners will also benefit from videos as well as musical instruction. Kinesthetic learners will gain knowledge from the role playing scenarios and finally scaffolding and collaboration will be present during group activity instruction.


Approximate Duration

15, 45 minute class periods


Goals and Standards

List Unit Understanding Goals and Goals for Technology Integration.

  • Unit Understanding Goals

Goal One

Social Studies Standard 3-4:

The student will demonstrate an understanding of the events that

led to the Civil War, the course of the War and Reconstruction,

and South Carolina’s role in these events.

Goal Two

Social Studies Standard 3-4.1

Compare the conditions of daily life for various classes of people in South

Carolina, including the elite, the middle class, the lower class, the

independent farmers, and the free and the enslaved African Americans.

Goal Three

Social Studies Standard 3-4.2

Summarize the institution of slavery prior to the Civil War, including reference to conditions in South Carolina, the invention of the cotton gin, subsequent expansion of slavery, and economic dependence on slavery.

Goal Four

Social Studies Standard 3-4.3

Explain the reasons for South Carolina’s secession from the Union, including the abolitionist

movement, states’ rights, and the desire to defend South Carolina’s way of life.
Goal Five

Social Studies Standard 3-4.4

Outline the course of the Civil War and South Carolina’s role in significant events, including

the Secession Convention, the firing on Fort Sumter, the Union blockade of Charleston,

And Sherman’s march through South Carolina.

Goal Six

Social Studies Standard 3-4.5

Summarize the effects of the Civil War on the daily lives of people of different classes in

South Carolina, including the lack of food, clothing, and living essentials and the continuing

racial tensions

Goal Seven

Social Studies Standard 3-4.6

Explain how the Civil War affected South Carolina’s economy, including destruction of

plantations, towns, factories, and transportation systems.
Goal Eight

Social Studies Standard 3-4.7

Summarize the effects of Reconstruction in South Carolina, including the development of

public education, racial advancements and tensions, and economic changes.

  • Educational Technology Goals (NETS-S)

Goal One

Nets Standard

Find and evaluate information related to a current or historical person or event using digital resources

Goal Two

NETS Standard

In a collaborative work group, use a variety of technologies to produce a digital presentation or product in a curriculum area.

Goal Three

SC Technology Standard

Identify components of a presentation program (layout views, slide, toolbars, and dialog box).

Goal Four

SC Technology Standard

Use presentation software to create projects incorporating effective use of graphics, fonts, builds, preset animation, and transitions.

Goal Five

SC Technology Standard

Deliver presentation.

Goal Six

SC Technology Standard

Create, save, and open word processing files.

Technology Tools and Materials


  • Classroom Computers

  • Lab Computers

  • Promethean Interactive White Board

  • Laptop

  • Projector

  • Overhead Projector

  • Jump Drives (One per four students)


  • Microsoft Office

  • Microsoft PowerPoint

  • Internet Explorer

  • Promethean Planet Flipcharts

  • Streamline Videos


  • http://www.42explore2.com/civilwar.htm

  • http://valley.vcdh.virginia.edu/

  • http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/index.html


Other Lesson Materials and Resources

  • Teacher textbook guide

  • Student textbooks

  • Student workbooks

  • South Carolina Social Studies Weekly Newspapers

  • Teacher created study guides for students

  • Teacher created quizzes and tests


Reproducible Materials

  • State Capitals and Boundaries Map

  • War Between the States Cause and Effect Chart


Background Information

Before beginning this unit the students will need to have schema or prior knowledge about specific events that happened in history in order to understand the events that led up to the Civil War. They will also have to know how to use certain types of programs including Microsoft office and how to navigate the internet. The students should understand the impact of the American Revolution and the formation of the democratic government that formed from its happening. They will also need to understand that individuals can be categorized into different classes based on their financial situations (lower, middle, upper class). They will also need to understand how African Americans came to the United States how they became an enslaved people. They will then need to understand what rights a free person compared to an enslaved person has. When it comes to the technological aspects of this unit the students will need to know how to open the Microsoft word program, create a blank document, type, and save the document to a shared drive. Also the students will need to know how to access the internet using internet explorer, type in a specific web address, and use the mouse tool to navigate through the site.


Scope & Sequence of Activities and Student Performances

Activity One:

The students will use a graphic organizer created in the promethean board software program to compare the daily lives of African Americans and independent farmers in

South Carolina before and after the Civil War. The students will describe in their computer based reflection journals what life was like on an Antebellum plantation. They will describe the home, surrounding areas, and what the daily activities in the home were like.

    • Guided

    • Student Constructed

  • Technology Used

    • Interactive White Board

    • Microsoft Word Program

  • Assessment

    • Observation/Dialogue

Activity Two:

Using teacher-prepared graphs showing the growth of cotton production after the invention of the cotton gin, the students will hypothesize in collaborative groups how this invention affected the institution of slavery and present their findings to class through the use of a student created power point.

  • Instructional Strategies

    • Teacher Directed

    • Student Constructed

  • Technology Used

    • Power Point Software

  • Assessment

    • Performance Task

    • Rubric

Activity Three:

Students will practice the skill of recalling details by answering the following questions: Why did people in the South want to keep slavery? Why did Calhoun support slavery? Which was stronger, Calhoun’s belief in states’ rights or his belief in the Union? Cite evidence to support your answers. Students will then write three to four sentences in their in their computer based reflection journals describing the bombing of Fort Sumter and how they would feel witnessing this event.

  • Instructional Strategies

    • Teacher Directed

    • Guided

    • Student Created

  • Technology Used

    • Microsoft Office Software

  • Assessment

    • Observation/Dialogue

Activity Four:

Students will read and discuss the article South Carolina: Two Ways of Life in the South Carolina Weekly Newspaper (week 12). They will then watch and discuss a streamline video that outlines the events leading up to and during the Civil War. Then the students will complete a flipchart activity created by the promethean board software on the causes and effects of the Civil War.

  • Instructional Strategies

    • Teacher Directed

    • Guided

  • Technology Used

    • Streamline Video

    • Interactive White Board Activity

  • Assessment

    • Observation/Dialogue

    • Academic Prompts

Activity Five:

Using a flipchart created on the promethean board software, students will work in collaborative groups and use a Venn diagram to compare the economic conditions of the urban areas and the rural areas in South Carolina before and after the Civil War.

  • Instructional Strategies

    • Teacher Directed

    • Guided

  • Technology Used

    • Interactive White Board Activity

  • Assessment

    • Academic Prompt

Activity Six:

The students will read in their textbooks to find out how the Emancipation Proclamation affected the African Americans at the conclusion of the Civil War. They will then complete a work book page activity that allows them to reflect on the many challenges that South Carolinians faced after the Civil War.

  • Instructional Strategies

    • Teacher Directed

    • Guided

  • Technology Used

    • None

  • Assessment

    • Academic Prompt

Activity Seven:

The students will visit the following website

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/index.html. They will explore how African Americans (slaves and freedmen) were treated before, during, and after the civil war. They will watch and listen to audio/video clips documenting the racial advancements and tensions during this time. They will then participate in a role play scenario on the website that shows them what it was like to try and vote as an African American during the reconstruction period after the war. They will then answer the following question in their computer based reflection journals about their experience: Do you think it was difficult for African Americans to adjust to being freedmen after the war?

  • Instructional Strategies

    • Guided

    • Student Constructed

  • Technology Used

    • Internet Research

    • Microsoft Word Software

  • Assessment

    • Observation/ Dialogue

    • Rubric

Activity Eight:

The students will then visit the following website http://valley.vcdh.virginia.edu/.

In this website they will be able to read diaries of first hand accounts depicting the daily lives of people affected by the Civil War. They will then choose a person from the list of diary entries and create a PowerPoint presentation in collaborative groups and present their findings on what daily life was like during the war and what challenges they faced based on the information they have already read.

  • Instructional Strategies

    • Guided

    • Student Constructed

  • Technology Used

    • Internet Research

    • PowerPoint Software

  • Assessment

    • Rubric


Assessment Procedures

Oral Presentation Rubric: Civil War Presentation

Teacher Name: Jill Entsminger

Student Name:     ________________________________________






Collaboration with Peers

Almost always listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others in the group. Tries to keep people working well together.

Usually listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others in the group. Does not cause "waves" in the group.

Often listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others in the group but sometimes is not a good team member.

Rarely listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others in the group. Often is not a good team member.


Shows a full understanding of the topic.

Shows a good understanding of the topic.

Shows a good understanding of parts of the topic.

Does not seem to understand the topic very well.


Student is able to accurately answer almost all questions posed by classmates about the topic.

Student is able to accurately answer most questions posed by classmates about the topic.

Student is able to accurately answer a few questions posed by classmates about the topic.

Student is unable to accurately answer questions posed by classmates about the topic.

Stays on Topic

Stays on topic all (100%) of the time.

Stays on topic most (99-90%) of the time.

Stays on topic some (89%-75%) of the time.

It was hard to tell what the topic was.

Posture and Eye Contact

Stands up straight, looks relaxed and confident. Establishes eye contact with everyone in the room during the presentation.

Stands up straight and establishes eye contact with everyone in the room during the presentation.

Sometimes stands up straight and establishes eye contact.

Slouches and/or does not look at people during the presentation.




  • Adjust work load (reduce rote writing)

  • Use visual aids with oral presentations

  • Give student outline of material to be covered in the lesson prior to beginning lesson

  • Highlight instructions by emphasizing the major points

  • Permit student to tape record lesson

  • Provide student with written instructions concerning the lesson

  • Clearly explain grading criteria for all assignments

  • Break lesson into short segments

  • Ask student to repeat instructions

  • Use high - impact, game - like materials

  • Modify student’s schedule

  • Call on student often

  • Give reminders for student to stay on task


  • Permit untimed testing

  • Arrange for oral testing

  • Have resource teacher administer tests

  • Use short, frequent quizzes

  • Permit breaks during tests

  • Permit student to type tests by use of computer in classroom

  • Adjust grading criteria


  • Cross-age tutoring

  • Study-buddy

  • Work with teacher aid or personal assistant

  • Meet with teacher after school


Explorations and Extensions

Civil War Jeopardy

An interactive whiteboard version created with the use of PowerPoint. The students work in collaborative teams of three to four and try to answer questions about the Civil War unit that was taught. This can be used as a review before taking an assessment. One student in each group keeps score of the points awarded. The rules are similar to regular jeopardy where points are awarded for correct answers and answers must be phrased in the form of a question. There are two rounds one regular and the other double jeopardy. There is a final question at the end where groups can wager points to win.


Lesson Development Resources

Foresman, Scott (2006). South Carolina History (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.



While teaching this unit I was very surprised to find that a lot of my students had schema about the Civil War. When I first introduced this unit the students began to tell me about how the North and South did not get a long and they also had some discussions about the rebel flag being a symbol for the south. However, some of the students had a hard time grasping the concept of war and how it could affect the economy and the social classes. Teaching the causes and effects of economical hardships to third graders proved to be a little more difficult that I though it would be. Overall though the students did well on their assignments and assessments throughout the unit. Many of the students were very excited by the topic (especially the boys when it came to the descriptions of the battles). I found that many of them wanted to further research some of the actual war heroes and real life civilians of the Civil War.


Contact Information

Jill Entsminger

Daisy Elementary School / Horry County School District



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