My inspiration for this unit comes from a belief that history can not only inform us about the past but also enrich our own lives. Through research, analysis and comprehension, history explains the forces that shape our society. Students can especially benefit from an in–depth examination of a specific period. Knowing a lot about a little can be at least as rewarding as knowing a little about a lot. Focusing on the first two weeks of April 1861, a short but significant time period, will give students this opportunity.
Many of my students themselves experience violence and the aftermath of violence in their lives, families and neighborhoods and the local newspapers bear this out. History can help them understand that they are not alone. April 1861 will serve as a case study to open that door. Through it, my students will be able to connect with the emotional turmoil of the American Civil War, drawing from the lessons for today.