The purpose of this unit is really threefold; I would like to prepare a unit that I can use in coordination with the Social Studies and art teachers on my eighth grade team; I would like to help students appreciate different perspectives in a unit that will use literature and documents that may be hard for eighth grade students to understand; finally I would like my unit to help students to make connections between the conflict that took place in the middle of the Nineteenth Century and the conflict that is going on in their world today.
Middle school teachers strive to work together on units that will allow students to appreciate the links that make studying things such as the Civil War and other topics that take place in an interdisciplinary setting. I believe my unit will serve as a link not only for students studying this very complicated time period in American history, but also serve as a link for colleagues in the middle school to work together, overlap lessons, and work in coordination on a subject that can be very overwhelming.
Secondly, I would like to make this literature more accessible to my students. Technology in this fast-paced internet driven world has put the written word at a disadvantage that it has never been up against before. Most of my eighth grade students would rather pick up an ipod, play a computer game, or look at how many things they can do on their telephones rather than read the poetry of Whitman or look closely at the speeches and words of Abraham Lincoln. We need to find new ways to introduce classic American literature to today’s students. I believe that this unit will give teachers the chance to introduce literature to students in a way that is engaging and interesting. Using the web sites given in the unit will allow students and teachers to examine primary source documents on line, making the study of texts and images quicker and more rewarding.
Finally, and most importantly, by looking at the perspectives and representations of these three figures from the Civil War, I believe that students can make some real connections with what was going on at that time and what is currently going on in their lives now. I want students to gain some more knowledge of what great literature does for us. How powerful the written word can be when applied to one’s own world and current situation.