This unit presents a variety of ways to teach the Revolutionary War that can be adapted to address the needs of all learners ranging from students with learning disabilities to students who are high-leveled learners with rich vocabularies. This month-long unit highlights: people, events, and war terminology. This unit is primarily designed for middle school students in grades five to eight, ages ten through thirteen, but the visual stimuli like the portraits and maps may be modified and adapted to fit the curriculum of high school students in grades nine through twelve, ages fourteen through eighteen. The unit serves to engage the auditory, kinesthetic, linguistic, and visual learner.
The unit is a focused, intensive unit applying the meta-cognition comprehension or thinking-about-thinking strategies introduced by Dr. Nancy Boyles (predicting, connecting, wondering, figuring out, picturing, and noticing) and used widely in the New Haven Public School District Language Arts curriculum to the visual content of the Revolutionary War to heighten students' interest in and curiosity about the war.
In addition to these strategies, the unit will include an arts-integrated approach that can include music, dance, and theatre to visually connect content to comprehension retention. The arts-integrated approach allows students to develop their own interpretation of an event or person through dialogue, role-play, or songs. All of these approaches help to paint a vivid image in the students' minds of what might have happened and what the people might have looked like during the time of the Revolutionary War.
Throughout the unit, words and images will be presented in a variety of different ways according to theories of Scott McCloud, Richard Lanham, Edward Tufte, and John Berger. These particular theorists were chosen because each has a unique way to illustrate written information that is highly relatable and entertaining. Scott McCloud explains the relationship of words through the use of comics, in a kid-friendly pictorial representation, both with and without words; it is highly effective for younger students because cartoons are relatable. Richard Lanham makes a case for digital text. Students are used to substituting words for images through texting, and searching internet websites for images to represent themselves on
. Students are always looking for "cool" ways to present their information, whether it is through stories or poetry. Shape poetry, the kind of poetry that takes the shape of its subject, is particularly "cool" to students because the poem has a shape that they can write their text in, color the shape, and illustrate the shape, thus creating a sense of ownership. All these theorists explain how to catch the students' interest and prompt them to become actively engaged in their own learning experience.