An interactive site that has students browse reproductions of records and documents pertaining to two similar towns in Pennsylvania and Virginia just before and during the Civil War to determine for themselves how the issues of the day and events of everyday life affected ordinary people.
The learning objectives for the module are listed within the variety of lesson plans provided on the web module. Each lesson plan provides Instructional Objectives, Materials, Equipment, Student Background Required, Historical Background, Procedure, Follow-up, Extension and Assessment. Within the Instructional Objectives the pertinent standards from the National History Standards as well as the standards from the National Council of History are listed.
To formulate historical questions from encounters with historical documents. To interrogate historical data by uncovering social, political, and economic context in which it is created, testing its credibility, authenticity, and to detect and evaluate bias. To employ the process of historical inquiry to reconstruct and reinterpret the past. To compare and contrast differing sets of ideas, values, personalities, behaviors, and institutioins by identifying likenesses and differences. To consider multiple perspectives of various peoples in the past by demonstrating their differing motives, beliefs, interests, hopes, and fears. To evaluate major debates among historians concerning alternative interpretations of the past. To demonstrate an understanding of events prior to,
during, and after the Civil War on the two counties researched in the module: Augusta County, Virginia and Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
Target Student Population:
High School and College.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Depending on the lesson plan, the following concepts/skills have been identified by the module creator and encapsulated below: A basic understanding of the difference between primary and secondary sources. A basic understanding of the difference between an abstract and a transcription. To possess basic computer competency with the ability to use a mouse and navigate within a web browser. To have access to a dictionary to clarify unknown terms. To understand the baic facts of the events surrounding the election of 1860, the secession and the political and social environment of the Lower South states and the Upper South states preceding the Civil War.
Type of Material:
A case study.
The site should be used in all United States survey courses which cover the events leading to and including the Civil War. The site should be used in courses that focus exclusively on the Civil War and/or the The Old South (referring to the study of the South before the Civil War).
Quicktime to view; Macromedia Shockwave for animated theatre maps.
Evaluation and Observation
This excellent website appeals to the history buff and the serious student/teacher of history. The use of primary sources is exhaustive and reflects the level of scholarship represented in the web project. The supplemental learning aids provided to teachers is an excellent resource for using the source in a United States history classroom for the secondary and college level either as a supplement to a unit covering the Civil War or as a source for researching and writing about history. The two communities and the materials associated with each one are now accessed via three time periods: The Eve of the War, The War Years, and Aftermath. Each of these includes the old graphic representation of different archive rooms or data bases for diaries, newspapers, military records, etc, but links in each area now lead to clear menus and annotated lists of the specific documents and data included, making it much easier both to browse the collection as a whole and to locate specific material.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Learning objectives and lesson plans are available for both secondary and college levels. Archives of primary documents allow for flexibility in how primary sources and teachers developing their own lesson plans use other aspects of the site. Expanded lesson plans are now available for grades 7-12 on a variety of topics pertaining to general American life in the era 1850-1870 and include occupations, the impact of railroads, German and Irish immigration, slave holding, Southern defense of slavery, women in the Civil War. Topics are listed for student papers on these and many additional areas which are linked to materials in the collection which students can use as primary sources. Both teachers and students are provided with clear objectives which helps to make the material on the site much more meaningful as well as easier to access and to integrate into the course. Reviews of the Ken Burn's series on the Civil War are offered. This site enables both students and facult the opportunity to move from the textbook to primary sources to teach Untied States history.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is well designed and user friendly with banner navigation and virtual archive made for easy navigation of the wealth of material located on the site. Load time is fast on T-1 connection. 3-D battlefield movies require Quicktime to view; Animated theatre maps require Macromedia Shockwave to view. This site has already won awards from Wired Magazine, The Chroncile of Higher Education, American Heritage Magazine, The History Channel.com and the e-Lincoln prize. The Valley of the Shadows was supported by the University of Virginia, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for Advanced Technology and the Humanities.
Other Issues and Comments:
The site contains a wealth of information in the form of primary and secondary sources, as well as interactive segments that involve the use of geographical information systems. The site highlights students' projects which is most impressive. Exemplary work created by students using resources on the site and elsewhere are showcased and provide an effective tool for teaching various aspects of the Civil War Era as well as illustrate the final the outcome of the historical research using primary sources.