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His Story, Her Story: Voices from the Civil War in Children’s Literature

Lisa Omark

Contents of Curriculum Unit 04.02.09:

To Guide Entry


“Reading is not walking on words, but grasping the soul of them.”

- Paulo Friere

Paulo Friere’s quote emphasizes how we, as readers, can be transformed by literature.

We “grasp the soul” of an author’s story and allow ourselves to become a part of a world unknown to us. In our transformation, we feel, we react, we consider and reconsider, and ultimately learn how others live. Using fiction and descriptive non - fiction literature in the classroom to complement the chronologies of an historical study provides our students with a variety of perspectives to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a given time period. The wealth of available children’s and young adult literature enables teachers to extend any historical study and to have our students “grasp the soul” of how others have lived.

Toward this end, “His Story, Her Story” is a nine-week literature project, designed to complement a Civil War social studies unit. At Conte West Hills Magnet School, the Civil War is taught in sixth grade as part of our American History curriculum. Conte West Hills Magnet School is a kindergarten through eighth grade program in New Haven; our school population is representative of all thirteen New Haven neighborhoods. One of our magnet “draws” for over thirty years has been an integrated curriculum: all of our teachers teach social studies and integrate their grade-level content with other disciplines wherever possible. The study of American history begins in fourth grade with Native Americans across the country. Fifth grade students study American colonialism and continue with the American Revolution and our early government. In sixth grade, our students learn about the nineteenth century in America: Westward Expansion, the Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution. During these three units, students read a variety of literature to complement their understanding of life during those eras. Sixth-graders meet for literature instruction and for social studies instruction on a daily basis; each class is forty-five minutes in length. The Civil War is taught during the second marking period, from November through mid-January. Although my primary responsibility, as a staff developer, is assisting all teachers with the development and implementation of their curriculums, I will teach this literature unit every day in one sixth-grade literature class during the second marking period.

The American Civil War produced some of the darkest years in our nation’s history. It has been called the greatest crisis in America’s life. The rights of individual states were determined. Constitutional government was put to its severest test. Areas of our country were left in ruins as cities were burned, farmlands pillaged, rural land destroyed, and roads obliterated. The institution of slavery was forever eradicated. The death toll of the war was over seven hundred thousand; its casualties exceeded our nation’s loss in all of its other wars combined, from the American Revolution to Desert Storm. Our country was divided in two. Brother fought brother. Son fought father. The brutality and horror of these dark years suggest reasons why we have not fought a war on our own soil since the Civil War.

The war itself lasted four long years; the effects of it are still being felt today. As Americans, it is incumbent upon us to know and understand the history of this time. In so doing, we can preserve the ideals of our Constitution and work together towards freedom and justice for all. As teachers, it is critical that we provide our students with a solid foundation for their growing historical understanding. The degree to which we successfully do this is the degree to which our citizens of the future can overcome the horrors of the past.

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Unit Overview

Traditional means of teaching history include reading from a textbook, giving lectures, inviting guest speakers, viewing films, and providing “hands-on activities.” When possible, teachers use a variety of supporting resources such as local historical societies and related field trips. According to Wiles and Bondi in Curriculum Development, A Guide to Practice, there has been less reform in the teaching of social studies than in the teaching of other major areas of the elementary curriculum, although that is gradually changing. In the 1980’s and the 1990’s, social studies instruction became more thematic in nature; teachers began to use a variety of literature genres as well as materials from other disciplines to support their students’ understanding of content. Predominantly popular were “curriculum webs” that graphically organized the content of a study by academic disciplines. Teachers used these webs for instructional planning, relying less on social studies textbooks and their manuals. Many school districts opted for resource-based learning in which textbooks were not used at all. By design, resource-based learning encourages in-depth focus on a topic that inspires students to construct meaning through interaction with information resources. There are many advantages to this approach; primary among them is the internalization of a coherent process of learning. Students construct meaning around a topic as they study, continuously connecting daily learning to overall goals and objectives. In essence, they are learning how to learn. While this internalization is critical, student outcomes do not always reflect curriculum standards and state testing goals. Resource-based learning is not enough.

Teachers of the upper elementary grades at Conte West Hills Magnet School seek to combine the best of resource-based learning with more traditional pedagogies to affect students’ mastery of curriculum standards. We value content-area textbooks that explain historical content at our students’ reading level because the books give students a baseline understanding of people, places, and events and provide them with an organizational structure of an era. This information must be presented clearly and concisely if students are to move beyond the textbook. Rich, content-driven literature complements a textbook by presenting the many stories put forth by people from all walks of life. Our students can connect their personal stories to those of the characters and gain a more realistic view of life at the time. It is the available literature for children and adolescents, with its diverse characters, settings, and plot lines that allows our students to connect the dots of content presented in textbooks and enables them to gain a greater appreciation for the similarities and differences between people of all eras. Quality literature makes a study come alive.

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Unit Objectives

At the conclusion of this literature-based unit, our sixth grade students will have mastered three major content objectives of America’s Civil War. They will:

- know the key events that led to the war,
- understand life during the war from a variety of viewpoints, and
- consider the effects of Reconstruction after the war.

In addition to the social studies goals, my unit will give students practice in specific objectives of the Connecticut Reading Comprehension Framework. These objectives are:

- Determine the main idea (for fiction) or theme (for non-fiction) within a written work.
- Identify important characters, settings, problems, events, relationships, and details within a written work.
- Select and use relevant information from a written work to summarize.
- Select, synthesize, and use relevant information within a written work to include in a response to or in an extension of the work.
- Demonstrate an awareness of values, customs, ethics, and beliefs included in a written work.
- Make connections between the text and outside experiences and knowledge.

Across the United States, the Civil War is studied in one of the upper elementary grades and, often, in eighth grade in conjunction with Civics. The National Council for History Standards has established clear academic standards for students in grades five through twelve. The Council has divided American History into ten specific eras; these eras cover our history from the early seventeenth century through our contemporary life. Era Five includes the Civil War. According to those standards, students are required to demonstrate an understanding of three aspects of the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era:

- The Causes of the Civil War: Students must demonstrate an understanding of how the North and South differed and how politics and ideologies led to the war.
- The Course and Character of the Civil War and The Effects on the American People: Students must demonstrate an understanding of how the resources of the Union and the Confederacy affected the course of the war and of the social experience of the war on the battlefield and the home front.
- The Success or Failure of Various Reconstruction Plans: Students must demonstrate an understanding of the political controversy over Reconstruction and of the Reconstruction programs designed to transform social relations in the South.

The Council further delineates each standard to include objectives that reflect the Cognitive Domain of Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning with specific examples of student achievement. School districts from across the country use these standards to determine curriculum for their students. The New Haven Board of Education has used these national standards to develop their Social Studies standards. The goals of New Haven’s Social Studies standards are twofold: to encourage students’ understanding and appreciation of diversity and to promote local, national, and global cooperation. Each grade has specific goals and objectives within the areas of Diversity, Civics/Government, Geography, Economics, and History. The Grade Six curriculum standards in each of these areas include an aspect of the Civil War. The goals and the objectives of my unit

derive from these standards.

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Developmental Changes of Adolescence

A major consideration to the development of any curriculum for children or adolescents is the students’ developmental level. Research has identified stages in development, recognizing that not all children progress through these stages at the same rate, but all do pass through each as they mature. Emerging adolescents have particular characteristics reflecting their emotional, social, moral, physical, and intellectual growth. A consideration of these characteristics defines the implications for successful learning. According to Jon Wiles and Joseph Bondi in their book Curriculum Development, A Guide to Practice, emerging adolescent learners are the most diverse group of students at any organizational level of schooling. Because of the body’s maturational changes, pre- and early adolescents experience dramatic transformations. The authors state that more biological changes occur in the bodies and minds of students between the ages of ten and fourteen than during any other period of their lives, with the exception of the first nine months of development. It is critical that any curriculum planned for this age group consider the major developmental changes of adolescence.

Lev S. Vygotsky (1896 - 1934) was a Soviet psychologist who is responsible for the social development theory of learning. He theorized that cognitive development is primarily influenced by social interaction with others. Vygotsky’s contemporaries included the founders of the Gestalt psychology as well as those professionals who advocated the theories of stimulus-response. Vygotsky recognized the validity of both approaches, but felt that neither of them sufficiently explained the higher levels of human thinking. He spent the last seventeen years of his life experimenting with thought and language development. Before his untimely death due to tuberculosis in 1934, he outlined how cognitive development is a life long process that is dependent on social interaction. He published Thought and Language in 1934; that text is still regarded as one of the most influential treatises to human psychology. That Vygotsky lived during the time of Stalin leads one to consider the vast influence of socialism on his theoretical findings; language development is, of course, social, but one must also recognize the impact of books, computers, and other forms of communication that are not directly social in nature. However, many of today’s developmental and educational foundations are based on the work of Lev S. Vygotsky.

In Thought and Language, (1934, 1986), Vygotsky theorizes that full cognitive development requires social interaction. He states: “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (inter-psychological) and then inside the child (intra-psychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts. All the higher functions originate as actual relationships between individuals.” Once the child realizes that everything has a name, each new object presents the child with a problem of identification. The solution to this problem is to name the object. These words are the beginnings of concept formation. Language becomes a crucial tool for cognitive development because advancing modes of thought are expressed through words.

Vygotsky’s theory extends to describe the “zone of proximal development”, the difference between what a child can do with help and what he or she can do without guidance. A child’s actual developmental level refers to all the functions and activities that a he or she can perform independently, without the help of another. The zone of proximal development includes all the functions and activities that a child can perform only with the assistance of someone else. The person in this scaffolding process could be an adult or a peer who has already mastered that particular function. The educational import of Vygotsky’s theoretical framework offers empirical proof that learning based on his social development theory is superior to other forms of instruction. The impact on curriculum development is clear: teachers must provide ample opportunities for students to discover the language of newly formed concepts and to practice this language with others. In addition, teacher modeling of concepts, with lots of discussion, is critical to understanding.

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Stages of Literary Appreciation

In 1960, Margaret Early published a study that defines how all readers move through four stages of literary development. The stages can be characterized by a focus on literary elements. From the years of early reading experience, the preschool years, to the upper elementary years, approximately fifth grade, students read for “unconscious delight.” They are absorbed in the plot of a narrative and usually, when asked why they liked a book, respond by saying, “First, this happened and then, that happened.” Their attachment to text and their enjoyment of it is at a pre-critical level. Sometime during their middle school years, students move into the second stage of literary appreciation. During this stage, students read for vicarious experience and focus on character development and conflict within a narrative. Students gravitate towards books that have characters that typify their life and experience. Understanding the triumphs and defeats of the characters they meet in literature gives students a better understanding of who they are and how they can best face their life situations. The third stage of literary appreciation finds juniors or seniors in high school reading for philosophical speculation. As they read, they ask, “Why and what if?” Students at this stage are reading books with content beyond their own experiences and focus on a narrative’s theme. They are able to consider the bigger questions society faces: Is justice equal? How can something be simultaneously beneficial and detrimental? What does it mean to be our brothers’ keeper? Finally, the fourth stage of literary appreciation is not seen until the college years and, sometimes, not at all. At this stage, readers enjoy an author’s craft, how he or she uses literary devices to make their words come alive. At this mature level, readers not only enjoy plot, character, and theme, but also appreciate an author’s talent as a writer. We read for “conscious delight,” for aesthetic enjoyment. As students progress through these stages, they do not “leave earlier stages behind;” for example, readers at the third stage of literary development not only focus on theme, but also on plot and characters.

According to Dr. Kylene Beers in her book, “When Kids Can’t Read, What Teachers Can Do,” we cannot force our students from stage to stage. They will only proceed when they have multiple opportunities to read. When we want to discuss a variety of literary elements with our students, it behooves us to begin with the element connected to their stage of literary development. Most sixth-graders are in the second stage of literary development; they focus on characters within a book and read to discover how the conflicts faced by those characters are resolved. To help students understand theme or main idea, literary discussions should begin with character and plot. Gradually, teachers can guide the discussion to thematic concepts. The project for my unit will focus on the literary characters of the Civil War. Students will consider the characters they meet and attempt to view life from their eyes. As they connect to their characters’ experiences, the events of the Civil War, the “plot” of the war will become more understandable. Class discussions of the larger questions of the war and its effects on life today, the themes, will result from these understandings. As teachers, it is important that we consider these four stages of literary development as we plan for our students’ reading experiences.

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Strategic Reading

Research indicates that expert readers use a variety of strategies as they read to construct meaning from the text. A strategy is a deliberate activity that guides a student to independently read for meaning. Regular modeling and coaching of reading strategies by teachers is a critical part of all reading instruction. A student has mastered a strategy when he or she can use it independently. In addition to using reading strategies, expert readers also use a variety of comprehension and word recognition skills. Students develop as readers when they are given repeated support to master comprehension, word recognition, and strategic reading skills. To promote my sixth-graders’ understanding of their reading, I will use the reading strategies presented in the book Mosaic of Thought by Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmerman. These seven strategies are:

- Connecting the Known to the New
- Determining Importance, learning the essence of text
- Questioning, delving deeper into meaning
- Using Sensory Images to Enhance Comprehension
- Inferring, finding the intersection of meaning
- Synthesizing, discovering the contour and substance of meaning
- Solving Reading Problems Independently, empowering children to move from problem to resolution

In this book, Keene and Zimmerman write in depth about each of these strategies, demonstrate how teachers can encourage their students to use them, and explain how accomplished readers use them as they read. I will model these strategies regularly throughout my unit.

Friere’s understanding of reading, that it is “grasping the soul of an author’s meaning,” implies the use of concrete strategies as students interact with text. There are four guiding principles of strategic reading:

- The meaning of a text is not contained in the words on a page. It is constructed by the reader.
- The single most important variable in learning with texts is a reader’s prior knowledge.
- How well a reader comprehends a text also depends on metacognition, one’s ability to think about and control his thinking process before, during, and after reading.
- Reading and writing are integrally related.

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Unit Organization

This literature unit is to be taught in conjunction with a nine-week, one marking period, American history unit on the Civil War. As students master the goals set forth in the curriculum in their history class, they will read text from a variety of genres in literature. The goal of their reading is to “meet twelve characters” from the Civil War, understand their characters’ daily lives and their characters’ knowledge and perspectives of the war, and learn of the era’s conflicts, defeats, and victories. Students will read as a whole class, in small groups, and individually. The culminating project of their readings will be a Civil War Scrapbook that will document their characters’ lives and summarize their readings. Each student will share his or her scrapbook with the class during the last week of the marking period. Grades will be based on student performance during work time, the quality of the scrapbook, and the excellence of the oral presentation. Students will work on this project in class for two or three periods each week; the remainder of the work will be completed as homework.

There is a wide range of sources from which students can select their reading material: picture books, chapter books, non-fiction books, magazines, news articles, primary documents, folktales, and poetry. Critical to the success of this unit is student choice. Students will have options for reading relative to ability level, interest, genre, and particular event (s) or topics of the war. In addition to these options, the text choices will be based on “meeting” the following twelve people:

- 1 Confederate soldier
- 1 Union soldier
- 1 African American soldier
- 2 people from the Underground Railroad (travelers, conductors, and station - masters)
- 1 child
- 1 slave
- 1 medical person
- 2 famous people of the time
- 2 people of their choice

If a student has an alternative idea for one of these categories, he or she must first discuss with me the basis for the idea and show me the particular book in question. In most cases, student ideas will be approved.

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The Scrapbook Project

Each student will put together a scrapbook for the major project of this literature unit. This scrapbook will be comprised of three main parts: two to three pages dedicated to each character that represent a variety of aspects of the character’s life, an annotated bibliography for each book read, and a reflection sheet that explains what the student has learned during the unit.

To demonstrate their understandings of the characters’ lives, students will include ten items:

- A picture
- A map of his or her home state
- Favorite foods
- Clothing
- Any special interests or talents
- His or her role in the Civil War
- Feelings about the war
- Four words to describe the character
- A significant quote from the text
- A way in which the student would like to remember the character

These aspects of their characters’ lives may be represented in a variety of formats from hand drawings and lettering to computer images. Individual needs will be considered as I guide students to the formation of their pages.

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Unit Timeline

The social studies content of my nine-week timeline of the unit will be divided as follows:

- Weeks 1 and 2: The Road to War - 1850 - 1861

1. Sectional Conflicts
2. Agriculture vs. Industry
3. Mapping the Slave and Free States
4. The Dred Scott Decision
5. John Brown and Harper’s Ferry
6. The Missouri Compromise
7. Kansas - Nebraska Act, 1854
8. The Secession of South Carolina

- Weeks 3, 4, and 5: Fighting the War - 1861 - 1865

1. Time Line of the War
2. Civil War Battles
3. Mapping the War
4. Strengths and Weaknesses of the North
5. Strengths and Weaknesses of the South
6. The Call for Volunteers
7. The Technology of War
8. Reporting the War
9. Abraham Lincoln
10. The Emancipation Proclamation
11. The Gettysburg Address
12. Fighting at Sea
13. Grant and Lee
14. Appomattox, April 9, 1865

- Weeks 6 and 7: The Personal Face of War

1. The Life of a Union Soldier
2. The Life of a Confederate Soldier
3. African American Soldiers
4. Wartime Medical Care
5. Women in Wartime
6. The Life of a Slave
7. Children in Wartime
8. Abolitionists
9. The Conductors of the Underground Railroad

- Week 8: Reconstruction - 1865 - 1870

1. Plan for Reconstruction
2. The Reconstruction Time Line
3. The South, Before and After
4. White Southerners and Reconstruction

- Week 9: Project Summary

This content will be delivered during the daily forty-five minute social studies class. I will use a variety of instructional techniques, including “hands-on” activities, role-playing, reading from our “America Will Be” social studies text, discussion, and viewing appropriate movies. Whenever appropriate, I will connect the content of the social studies to the students’ literature project, particularly during weeks seven and eight.

The literature timeline will be as follows:

- Weeks 1 and 2: Whole Class Work

During these weeks, the project will be presented to the class; with this will be a working timeline and working “character sheets” to guide my students as they read. I will model how to develop the scrapbook pages about the characters by reading Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco. This picture book tells the touching, true story of two young men, Pinkus Aylee and Sheldon Russell Curtis, who meet in a field in Georgia during the war. As a class, we will develop pages for Pink, Say, and Moe Moe Bay, Pink’s mother. Finally, I will give short “book talks” on many of the Civil War books I will have in class for my students’ use. Two periods will be devoted to students’ selection of their first reading, developing their initial scrapbook pages, and my reviewing their work for clarification and support. They are responsible for meeting one character independently during these weeks.

- Weeks 3, 4, and 5: Small Group Work

I have multiple copies of Paul Fleischman’s book Bull Run, which is about the first major battle of the war. This book is unique because it tells of the battle from sixteen different characters’ points of view. Students will read the book in small groups of no more than four students. I will teach two major during-reading strategies to promote comprehension, “The ABC’s of Comparing and Contrasting” and “Say Something.” As students read, they will have a discussion guide to organize and convey their thoughts. From the book, students will select at least two characters to include in their scrapbook. They are also responsible for “meeting one other character” independently during these three weeks.

- Weeks 6, 7, and 8: Individual Work

These weeks will be devoted to students meeting three characters as they work
independently. Each literature period dedicated to the project will have a quiet
reading time and a “scrapbook” work time. I will review strategies for
summarizing text with the whole class. In addition, my role will be to guide and
encourage all students and to be a resource for those needing assistance. Students
will be responsible for “meeting three characters” during these three weeks.

- Week 9: Project Share

All of the literature periods this final week will be devoted to each student sharing his or her Scrapbook Project orally with the class. As they share, they can introduce us to one or two of the characters they met while reading and summarize their favorite text. Approximately five students will share each day; students can decide when they will share by signing up for a particular day. On the last day, I will have a Civil War Tea, with juice, cookies, and fruit.

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Concluding the Unit

At the conclusion of my unit, I will read the powerful picture book Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles. This story takes place in the summer of 1964 and is an excellent overview of the result of slavery in this country. Two young boys, one African American and one white, are the best of friends. They do everything together, but their favorite activity is swimming. In the story, the town council has just passed a law stating that the city pool, previously closed to African Americans, will be open to all. The boys can hardly wait to play in the pool. The day of open swimming comes and the boys race to the pool, only to find men who work for the town digging up the pool. The same government that passed a law allowing swimming is now digging up the pool, closing it for everybody. From this story, I will ask students to complete a graphic organizer stating, from their point of view, what each boy sees, hears, and feels as a result of the council’s actions. The use of these sensory images will be a springboard to a discussion that will compare Freedom Summer with Pink and Say, the book with which I began the unit. How are the main characters in each story the same? How are they different? How are the characters in both books fighting the same war? To conclude this discussion, I will suggest that all of us are current “characters” in our nation’s history; it is now our turn to determine what each of us can do to understand the conflicts of our time and to help our country be more just and free. The culminating activity of the unit will be letter writing; each of us, myself included, will write a letter to the class describing what he or she will do to help our school, our city, and our nation be a better place for all.

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In summary, the goal of my unit is two-fold. I want my students to know the timeline of the Civil War as described in the National Standards for United States History. This timeline is the backbone of the study as it provides each student with an overview of the war and provides the means by which he or she can make personal and content connections. Secondly, I want them to select and read quality works of literature set during the Civil War, the “his stories and her stories.” I want my students to hold these stories in their hearts, to pass them on, and to keep the memories of those who lived during this very difficult chapter in our history alive. On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg to “dedicate a portion of the field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live.” He emphasized that, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.” Some of this unfinished work is the peaceful resolution of conflicts. The conflicts of people that lead to war are not diminishing, even today. It is for us, the teachers, to ensure our students with the means of learning how to resolve their conflicts and work toward peace. Toward that end, Lincoln’s meaning will be more clear and genuine for our students when they learn of the diverse people who have lived before us, who worked hard to guarantee that government of the people, by the people, for the people does not perish from this earth.

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Sample Lesson Plans

Lesson One

CMT Objectives:

- Identify important characters, settings, problems, events, relationships, and details within a written work
- Make connections between the text and outside experiences and knowledge.

Strategy Objective:

- Use the “Questioning” strategy to understand the main character of the story.


- Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson
- Chart paper, markers


1. Introduce the story by showing several different kinds of maps (road maps, room
maps, trail maps, etc.) Ask students to share a time when they used a map,
describing how and why.
2. As students share, list the types of maps and reasons for their use.
3. Introduce the story by reviewing the purpose for the Underground Railroad. Ask students to listen for how the “maps” for the Underground Railroad were drawn.
4. As the story is read, stop at certain intervals and “think aloud” the key points to the story, using the “Questioning” strategy:
- What role does Clara have on the plantation?
- How does she get the idea to make a map?
- How does she get the information to make a map?
- What does she use to represent the landmarks?
- How does Clara know which way to go?
5. To culminate the lesson, have students make a “response quilt” square on which they indicate one of the following:
- The setting reminds me of…
- The event that I like best is …
- The conflict of the story is …
- I liked when Clara …
- Clara reminds me of …
6. Have each student share his or her quilt patch; when finished, assemble them to form a quilt and hang it in the classroom.

Lesson Two

CMT objective:

- Make connections between the text and outside experience and knowledge.

Strategy objective:

- Students will use an anticipation guide to explore their knowledge and attitudes about the Battle of Bull Run before reading the novel.


- Teacher-made anticipation guide for Paul Fleischman’s, Bull Run, run off so that each student has a copy
- Class set (27 copies) of the novel Bull Run


1. Before class, prepare the anticipation guide and run it off. Use the following
statements in the guide:
- Only men were involved in the Battle of Bull Run.
- The only way that soldiers died in battle was by fighting.
- Children younger than twelve were not part of the battle at all.
- Soldiers joined the army for many different reasons.
- A person has to confront death in order to understand the importance of life.
2. Explain the purpose and directions of the anticipation guide. The guide is a strategy designed to elicit student’s beliefs about the content of the text. Statements will be read as a class; students will then review the statements, decide if they agree or disagree, and mark the appropriate box. Be sure to emphasize that students are not guessing the correct answer; they are exploring their thoughts.
3. Distribute the anticipation guides and read the statements with the class.
4. Give students an opportunity to indicate their feelings about each.
5. Have students share and discuss their responses.
6. Collect the anticipation guides.
7. When the class has finished the novel, redistribute the anticipation guides and allow students an opportunity to indicate whether they have the same feelings as they did before reading.

Lesson Three

CMT objectives:

- Make connections between the text and outside experiences and knowledge
- Identify important characters, settings, problems, events, relationships, and details within a written work

Strategy objective:

- Students will use the “Probable Passage” pre-reading strategy to predict content.


- Blank “Probable Passage” worksheets, one for every group of two students.
- Predetermined list of eleven words and phrases from the passage
- Chart paper and markers
- Copy of the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln, illustrated by M. McCurdy
- Student copies of the Gettysburg Address, one for each student


1. Divide the class into groups of two.
2. Review the procedure for completing the Probable Passage worksheet. This strategy requires extensive modeling. If this is the first time your class has done this, do it with them, modeling your thinking for the placement of the words. The worksheet has boxes labeled: Characters, Setting, Problem, Outcomes, Unknown words, and To discover. Four blank lines are printed in the middle of the page with the heading “Gist Statement.” Students are given a list of words and, working with their partner, write the words in the box in which they think the words belong. Each word can go in only one box. After students have put the words into boxes, they are to create a “Gist Statement,” a statement that, using the placement of the words, summarizes the content of the text.
3. Read the words written on chart paper aloud with the class. The words selected for this passage are: brave men, dead shall not have died in vain, Civil War, final resting place, battlefield, the living, 87 years ago, our fathers, new birth of freedom, government shall not perish, and take increased devotion.
4. Invite students to share their ideas. Use two different colored markers, one for the most common responses and one for unusual responses. List any unknown words. Share the gist statements. As a class, brainstorm what we want to discover while reading.
5. Read the selection. Students may refer to their worksheets while reading.
6. Discuss the selection, referring to word placements and gist statements.
7. Using background information from the book with McCurdy’s illustrations, give an historical overview of the purpose and importance of the speech.

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Teacher Bibliography

Atwell, Nancie. In the Middle. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1998.

Atwell explains the purpose and process of using the workshop format for reading and writing instruction for adolescents. Attention is also given to the adolescent’s developmental needs. An appendix gives many concrete ideas for successful workshops.

Beers, Kylene. When Kid’s Can’t Read, What Teachers Can Do, A Guide for Teachers

6 - 12. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Publishers, 2003.

This resource on reading instruction explains specific strategies students can use before, during, and after reading to make meaning from text. Attention is also given to vocabulary, word recognition, spelling, and fluency.

Butler, Francelia. Sharing Literature with Children. New York: David McKay

Company, Inc., 1977.

This sourcebook organizes selections from children’s literature into five thematic categories: Toys and Games, Fools, Masks and Shadows, Sex Roles, and Circles. A variety of genres is included within each category.

Calkins, Lucy McCormick. The Art of Teaching Reading. New York: Longman Publishers, 2001.

Calkins begins her book with a discussion of the import of creating a community of readers within each classroom. She continues by clearly explaining specific structures that make reading curriculums successful for kindergarten through eighth grades.

Early, Margaret. “Stages of Growth in Literary Appreciation.” English Journal, 49(3),

pp. 161 - 167.

This study describes how children move from an “unconscious” appreciation of literature to a conscious, sophisticated understanding of text. Early explains how students at different stages read for different reasons and how teachers can maximize learning by developing their lessons with respect to these stages.

Harvey, Stephanie and Anne Goudvis. Strategies that Work: Teaching Comprehension

to Enhance Understanding. Portland Maine: Stenhouse Publishers, 2000.

Understanding text is contingent on the ability to read strategically. This text delineates strategy lessons teachers can use to help students make meaning and provides a comprehensive list of resources that support strategy instruction for teachers.

Keene, Ellin Oliver and Susan Zimmerman. Mosaic of Thought: Teaching Comprehension in a Reader’s Workshop. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Publishers, 1997.

Keene and Zimmerman delineate seven specific strategies used by proficient readers. Each strategy is explained in detail, with documentation of how they researched it in public school classrooms.

Kennemer, Phyllis K. Using Literature to Teach the Middle Grades about War. Phoenix, Arizona: The Oryx Press, 1993.

This resource reviews children’s picture books, fiction books, biographies, and non-fiction books written about six American wars, from the Revolution to the Gulf War. Each war is divided into the following sections: Chronology, Recommended Books, Sample Lesson Plans, Suggested Questions and Activities, and a Glossary.

Michaels, John U. and Jesus Garcia. Social Studies for Children: A Guide for Basic Instruction. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1996.

This methodology textbook thoroughly explains the successful teaching of social studies. The development of creative and critical thinking skills, planning and guiding group and individual activities, and evaluation of student work are among the many topics thoroughly explored.

National Council for History. National Standards for United States History: Exploring the American Experience, Grades 5 - 12. Los Angeles: National Center for History in the Schools, 1994.

The National Council for History has developed standards for American History, Grades 5 - 12. This resource delineates those standards by dividing our country’s history into ten eras, stating specific standards for each era, giving means by which students demonstrate their understanding of each standard by grade level, and suggesting ways in which to measure student achievement.

Routman, Regie. Conversations: Strategies for Teaching, Learning, and Evaluating. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Publishers, 2000.

The premise of this book is that teachers need rich conversations, with other professionals and with texts, to continue to develop their understandings of successful teaching. Practices based on research flourish only if teachers have opportunities to discuss that research relative to classroom experience. This resource directs our conversations about reading and writing instruction by considering literacy programs, reading and writing instruction, curriculum inquiry, classroom and professional communities, and evaluation.

Sammis, Kathy. Focus on U.S. History: The Era of Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860 1877. Portland, Maine: J. Weston Walch Publishers, 1997.

This teacher guidebook focuses on the Civil War era as outlined by the National Standards for United States History. Lesson ideas and worksheets cover The Road to War, Fighting the War, The Personal Face of War, and Reconstruction. Lessons in this book give students a means to understand the critical issues of the Civil War and how Reconstruction began the movement of equality for all.

Vygotsky, Lev. Thought and Language, translated by A. Kozulin. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1934/1986.

Vygotsky presents the theoretical understandings of the critical connection betweenthought and language and their implications for cognitive development. Central to histheory is the import of adults and knowledgeable peers in all learning.

Walter, Virginia A. War and Peace: Literature for Children and Young Adults, A Resource Guide to Significant Issues. Phoenix, Arizona: The Oryx Press, 1993.

This resource discusses proper selection of books with regard to children’s developmental levels, how to use books about war and peace in the classroom, and has a comprehensive annotated bibliography with suggested grade levels for each book.

Wiles, Jon and Joseph Bondi. Curriculum Development: A Guide to Practice. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill, an imprint of Prentice Hall, 1998.

This resource is a comprehensive review of the considerations necessary to the development of any curriculum. Philosophical roles, procedural choices, and curriculum practices, with sections on each developmental level, provide background understandings and organizational choices to help guide teachers to the best decisions for individual schools and classrooms.

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Children’s Bibliography

Beatty, Patricia. Charley Skedaddle. New York: Morrow Books, 1987.

Charley lives in the Bowery of New York City and longs to avenge his brother’s death. He wants to experience the glory of battle and decides to fight at Bull Run.

This first battle is his last, as he “skedaddles” to the mountains of Virginia. There, he discovers an old woman who needs his help and forces him to truly find his courage.

Bolotin, Norman and Angela Herb. For Home and Country: A Civil War Scrapbook.

New York: Lodestar Books, 1995.

This book contains a variety of visual images from the war. Tracing the war by using primary documents, historical events and political issues are seen through the perspective of many small, everyday details: letters, photographs, songs, diaries, newspaper clippings, and advertisements.

Clapp, Patricia. The Tamarack Tree: A Story of the Civil War. New York: Puffin Books, 1986.

Rosemary Lee moves from England to Vicksburg, Mississippi just before the Civil

War. Her life is full of parties, friends, and fancy clothes. She meets Jeff, a lawyer from the North. As war breaks out, Rosemary must decide whether or not to follow her heart during the dangerous and difficult days that lay ahead.

Cox, Clinton. Undying Glory: The Story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment. New

York: Scholastic Books, 1991.

This non-fiction book describes the 54th Regiment, made up of African - American Soldiers, and their efforts during the Civil War. We learn that the soldiers faced discrimination, not only from the Confederate soldiers, but also from the Union soldiers and the Union government. Abraham Lincoln applauds their participation, saying “without the help of this regiment, the war against the South could not have been won.

Damon, Duane. Growing Up in the Civil War, 1861 - 1865. Minneapolis: Lerner

Publications Company, 2003.

This book tells the story of the Civil War from a variety of young adolescents’ points of view. Using many primary source documents, the author describes life in the 1860’s on the home front and on the battlefield, from the clothes and foods at home to the horrors of battle.

Erickson, Paul. Daily Life on a Southern Plantation, 1853. New York: Lodestar Publishers, 1998.

This non-fiction book gives an overview of slavery in the South and then takes the reader through a typical day on a plantation.

Fleischman, Paul. Bull Run. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, A Laura Geringer Book, 1993.

These short chapters describe the Battle of Bull Run from sixteen different points of view. Each person has a different reason for being there. We meet them before, during, and after the battle and learn how the events of war change people forever.

Fox, Paula. Slave Dancer. New York: Laurel-Leaf Books, 1973.

This Newbery Medal winning book (1974) tells the story of Jessie Bollier, who lived by the New Orleans’s docks during the 1840’s. He earned money by playing his fife for the sailors on the docks. One afternoon he is kidnapped by slave runners and is forced to play his fife on The Moonlight, a slave ship. Slaves were required to “dance” to his music so they would be strong and fit when they arrived in America.

Jessie hated everything about this ship and must learn to face his horror with courage and wisdom.

Freedman, Russell. Lincoln: A Photobiography. New York: Clarion Books, 1987.

This Newbery Award winning biography (1988) describes Lincoln’s life in excellent detail. Numerous photographs and documents give a well-rounded view of our sixteenth president.

Fritz, Jean. Stonewall. New York: Putnam Books, 1979.

In this biography of Stonewall Jackson, Fritz describes the battle of Manassas and how Jackson, who stood like a stone during the battle, became a great leader.

Hakim, Joy. A History of US: Reconstruction and Reform. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

This history “textbook” describes a variety of important events in our country’s history from 1865 through 1896. Included are Reconstruction efforts, the presidency of Andrew Johnson, amendments to the Constitution, and the Civil Rights Act of


Hakim, Joy. A History of US: War, Terrible War. New York: Oxford University Press,


Part of a ten-volume set, this history “textbook” describes the events that led to the

Civil War, important people of the time, key battles and incidents during the war, and ending with Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theater in Washington.

Hamilton, Virginia. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. New York:

Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

These twenty-four selections represent the main body of African-American folklore.

They are written in the voice of the storyteller, bringing alive this important contribution to American literature.

Hopkinson, Deborah. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.

This is the story of Clara, a slave and a seamstress, who lives on a plantation. She pieces together a quilt that becomes a map for use on the Underground Railroad.

Hopkinson, Deborah. Under the Quilt of Night. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001.

This is the story of a young slave girl who leads her family to freedom “under the quilt of the night sky” on the Underground Railroad. She and her family are aided by a secret communication, a hand-made quilt with dark, deep blue centers. The girl is nameless, as were so many of the brave slaves who risked their lives running toward freedom.

Hunt, Irene. Across Five Aprils. Chicago: Follett Publishing Company, 1964.

Jethro Creighton is nine-years-old when this story and the war begin. His small farming community in southern Illinois is quickly overcome by national events. One of his brothers signs up to fight for the Confederacy; his four other brothers sign up to fight for the Union. Jethro is left home to maintain the farm and to do all he can to put his family back together.

Kantor, MacKinlay. Gettysburg. New York: Random House, Landmark Books, 1952,


This fictionalized story recounts the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 and the dedication of the battlefield to “those who here gave their lives that this nation might live” four months later. We are introduced to the people of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and learn about the battle from their point of view.

Lester, Julius. To Be a Slave. New York: Scholastic Books, 1968.

This book tells the story of slavery from the auction block to Emancipation. Told in the words of slaves, it is a powerful documentation of the horrors and sadness of their treatment.

Levine, Ellen. If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad. New York: Scholastic

Books, Inc., 1988.

Told in question and answer format, this book describes what it was like to be a slave trying to escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad. The books covers topics such as “How did the Underground Railroad get its name?”, “What would you eat while you were hiding?”, and “What were the special signals and codes on the Underground Railroad?”

Lincoln, Abraham. The Gettysburg Address. Boston: The Houghton Mifflin Company,


This book is the text of Lincoln’s famous speech; the text is accompanied by Michael McCurdy’s dramatic illustrations.

Lunn, Janet. The Root Cellar. New York: Putnam Books, 1985.

This is a time travel book in which Rosa is living with relatives in contemporary

Canada. She discovers a way to slip into the past through the family’s root cellar. There she meets two friends, a brother and a sister. When the brother goes off to fight in the Civil War, Rosa and her friend, Susan, go to Washington, D. C. to find him.

McGovern, Ann. If You Grew Up with Abraham Lincoln. New York: Scholastic

Books, Inc., 1966, 1992.

Written in question and answer format, this book describes Lincoln’s life as a young boy in Salem and in Springfield, Illinois. Topics covered include “What kind of house would you live in?”, “What were the biggest dangers on the frontier?”, and “What did people do in Springfield for fun?”

McKissack, Patricia. Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman? New York: Scholastic Books,


This biography of a slave named Isabella, born in 1797 and freed in 1827, chronicles the life of one of America’s most important women during her years as a preacher, abolitionist, and an activist.

Meltzer, Milton. Voices from the Civil War. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1989.

Meltzer organizes this book to follow the chronology of the war. Using primary source documents, the reader is able to hear the voices of the era describe what life was like.

Moore, Kay. If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War. New York: Scholastic Books, Inc., 1994.

Written in question and answer format, this book describes life in the North and in the South during the Civil War. Topics covered include “Why did the Southern states want to leave the Union?”, “How did you get news from the front lines in the North and in the South?”, and “How did life in the North and in the South change after the war?”

Murphy, Jim. The Boys’ War: Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk about the Civil War. New York: Clarion Books, 1990.

This book uses primary documents, letters, diaries, and oral histories to tell the stories of some of the younger soldiers.

North, Sterling. Abe Lincoln: Log Cabin to White House. New York: Random House, 1956,1984.

This biography takes the reader through Abraham Lincoln’s early years when he faced hardship and extreme poverty. North tells how Lincoln surmounted those obstacles and rose to the highest office in the land.

O’Brien, Patrick. Duel of the Ironclads: The Monitor versus The Virginia. New York: Walker and Company, 2003.

This book recounts the battle of the first iron-clad ships on March 9,1862, the Confederate’s Virginia (the Merrimac) and the Union’s Monitor. It begins by explaining the construction of the ships and concludes with a description of the battle’s impact on the Civil War. John Ericsson, the inventor of the ships, is featured.

Paulsen, Gary. Soldier’s Heart. New York: Bantam Books, 1998.

Fifteen-year-old Charley lied about his age to join the Minnesota Volunteers as a combat soldier. He wanted to teach the Confederate soldiers a lesson for breaking away from the Union. Once in battle, Charley finds the realities of war a far cry from the words of the inspirational songs that made him want to join. The text describes the violence of war and Charley’s reaction to it.

Peck, Richard. The River Between Us. New York: Dial Books, 2003.

The author uses the flashback technique of writing to tell the story of Tilly Pruitt and her family who live in southern Illinois, along the Mississippi River at the beginning of the Civil War. The Rob Roy steamboat comes up the river from New Orleans and brings two mysterious guests, who live with the Pruitt family. We meet a variety of characters, all with very different roles in the war, and learn how each has a battle to fight on both a personal and on a political front.

Pinkney, Andrea Davis. Silent Thunder, A Civil War Story. New York: Scholastic Books, 1999.

This story, written in the first person, tells the story of a slave family on the Parnell Plantation in Hobbs Hollow, Virginia in 1862. The “silent thunder” that each of us carries within us can help us or it can hurt us.

Polacco, Patricia. Pink and Say. New York: Philomel Books, 1994.

This picture book tells the true story of two young men who meet in a field in Georgia during the Civil War. Say is injured, left for dead. Pink lives nearby and carries him home. There, Say is nursed back to health by Pink’s mother, Moe Moe Bay. The boys hide in the root cellar when marauders ransack the house. On the way out, the marauders kill Moe Moe Bay as she runs for the woods. The boys are captured by

Confederate soldiers and are taken to a prisoner of war camp. Pink dies, Say is released after the war and returns to his home in Michigan. He is Polacco’s great- great-great grandfather. The book is dedicated to the memory of Pinkus Aylee.

Ringgold, Faith. Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky. New York:Dragonfly Books, 1992.

Cassie and Be Be continue their adventures begun in Tar Beach by learning of their great-great grandparents long journey from slavery to freedom, guided by the voice of Harriet Tubman.

Reeder, Carolyn. Shades of Gray. New York: Avon Camelot Books, 1989.

Will Page lived through the Civil War, but his father and brother had been killed by Yankee soldiers. His sister died of illness, his mother of grief. Will is forced to live with his uncle, who refused to fight for the Confederacy and is thought to be a traitor.

Living with his uncle, Will is forced to look at the war from a different perspective and understand the different meanings of courage.

Rockwell, Anne. Only Passing Through. New York: Dragonfly Books, 2000.

This picture book biography chronicles the life of Sojourner Truth, from a young slave in the Hudson Valley through all of her travels to speak of the evils of slavery. The book explains how she got her name and how she served the truth.

Wiles, Deborah. Freedom Summer. New York: Athenaeum Books for Young Readers, 2001.

It is the summer of 1964 and John Henry and Joe are the best of friends. They do everything together, but their favorite activity is swimming. They are very excited when the Town Council passes a law that makes swimming in the town pool possible for both of them. But, their joy is short-lived when they discover that laws cannotchange people, only people can change people.

Winter, Jeanette. Follow the Drinking Gourd. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Dragonfly Books, 988.

This story tells how a folksong became a map for slaves running toward the North and freedom. One family follows the Drinking Gourd, The Big Dipper, and uses the

lyrics of the song to map their escape route.

Wright, Courtni C. Journey to Freedom: A Story of the Underground Railroad. New York: Holiday House, 1994.

This book recounts, in the first person, a family’s journey on the Underground Railroad from a tobacco plantation near Lexington, Kentucky to freedom in Canada. Harriet Tubman guides the family north, overcoming dangers and difficulties.

Wright, Courtni C. Jumping the Broom. New York: Holiday House, 1994.

This story describes the joy and traditions of an African-American wedding on a southern plantation.

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