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Lesson Plan: The Civil War: 10 Things You Should Know (and Probably Don’t)

A step-by-step guide to teaching this article in your classroom

KEY STANDARDS

Common Core: RH.6-8.1, RH.6-8.2, RH.6-8.3, RH.6-8.5, RH.6-8.7, RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.2, RI.6-8.3, RI.6-8.4, RI.6-8.8

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

• Use this article in a unit about the Civil War.

• Use this feature to hone students’ reading comprehension and critical-thinking skills.

Before Reading

1. STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
(5 MINUTES)

Read the article’s title aloud, then ask: Which part of the title—“should know” or “probably don’t”—do you find more interesting? Why? What kind of challenge does the title present to readers?

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Read & Analyze

2. FULL-CLASS READING
(20 MINUTES)

Assign sections (introduction and 10 items), then read the article aloud together as a class. After each section, pause and discuss. Ask: Why might the editors think this is something you should know?


3. CLOSE-READING QUESTIONS
(10 MINUTES)

Have students write their answers to each question, or use these prompts to guide a discussion.

  • MAKE INFERENCES: What was shocking about the first Battle of Bull Run?
    (see #3: The defeat of the Union army stunned everyone. It indicated that the war would last longer and be rougher than expected.)

  • CLOSE READING: Why did the Emancipation Proclamation free very few slaves at first?
    (see #4: It applied only to slaves in the 11 states that had seceded, not to all parts of the country where people were enslaved.)

  • CAUSE AND EFFECT: What was the cause of two-thirds of deaths during the Civil War? "
    (see #5: communicable diseases)

  • EXPLICIT INFORMATION: What was Reconstruction?
    (see #10: a period of reintegrating the rebellious Southern states into the Union after the Civil War)

Extend & Assess

4. ENCOURAGE CLOSE READING
Have students complete the skills sheet Close Reading Checklist to hone their critical-thinking, summarizing, and readingcomprehension skills.

DIFFERENTIATING

Lower Level Help students learn more about the war by watching our video “America’s Civil War.”

Higher Level Have students choose one of the 10 items to research further to find at least one new, related fact they think everyone should know, then share it with the rest of the class.

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