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Posts from the ‘civil war’ Category

4 things I learned during my #civilwarsupertour

Maybe it’s there.

Maybe it’s not.

But we had to go either way, just to say we did. Because it’s not very often that you get the chance to view the burial site of someone’s arm.

So we followed a dirt road off the main highway down to Ellwood Manor near the Chancellorsville battlefield. We had a great tour of the house, discussed why Union general Sheridan hated his fellow general Sedgwick, and examined the cannon balls embedded in a preserved tree trunk.

And then . . . the arm cemetery.

On May 2, 1863, during an evening scouting ride, Confederate general Stonewall Jackson was shot multiple times by his own troops. His left arm was amputated and he died days later from pneumonia. But military chaplain Tucker Lacy didn’t think that the arm of such a Confederate rock star should end up in a pile of limbs of lesser men. So he wrapped the arm in a blanket and took it to the family cemetery at Ellwood. The chaplain gave the limb a standard Christian burial and placed a marker above the site.

The arm is still there. At least the marker is. Urban legends suggest multiple attempts at reburials including one by a Marine Corps general in the 1920s. After conversations and research, the National Park Service staff there aren’t so sure.

But it was an interesting side trip as a part of the larger Wiebe family Civil War Battlefield Extravaganza. Inspired by Tony Horowitz’s book Confederates in the Attic, three of us spent ten days last month exploring multiple sites, battlefields, and that one cemetery with the arm.

It’s was awesome.

As a self-described history nerd, what better way to spend part of May tramping around places like Gettysburg, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Harpers Ferry, and Corydon, Indiana? I’ve got pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.

But how about four things I learned instead? Read more

Re-mastered The Civil War is going live

Most of us who channel surf – you know who you are – have a list. On that list is what some have called Shawshank movies. Named for The Shawshank Redemption, a Shawshank movie is any video that is so good that if encountered during surfing, it must be viewed to the end.

The Civil War by Ken Burns is that sort of video event. So good that if encountered by any self-respecting social studies teacher, it must be watched until the final minute. Forty million people watched the nine-part series when it first aired on PBS in 1990 and the Ken Burns love helped spark a Civil War craze. Millions purchased VHS copies of the series and the spin-off book. The film also made a star of Ken Burns.

The Civil War will be rebroadcast over five consecutive nights this week. The broadcast, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the series’ initial broadcast in September 1990, will present for the first time a newly restored, high-definition version. This is also the first time the film will be seen with the same fidelity and framing as the negative that Burns and his co-cinematographers Allen Moore and Buddy Squires shot more than 25 years ago.

So. Read more

Tip of the Week: 40 maps that explain just about everything

It’s actually 149 maps. But I figured that was just a bit of overkill in the title. To be completely transparent, it’s really five different articles about five different topics that all focus on very cool and interesting maps to tell a story.

So you can pick and choose.

Middle school US history teacher? There’s a little bit of the Civil War in there. High school world history? Yup. We’ve got some WWI and WWII. Ancient? Rome and Middle East, covered.

But . . . I can hear a few of you now.

Glenn. I know you love a good map. But what can I, a classroom teacher, do with that many maps? How can these be incorporated into my instruction? And somehow make it about historical thinking?

Well . . . first of all, we’ve already decided that 149 is a big number so don’t use all of the maps. Pick and choose the ones that best fit your specific end in mind and content. And second, remember that one of the best ways to engage the brain and to hook students on content is to create an intriguing problem. Look for a map or two or three that creates a sense of “academic discomfort” – something that doesn’t seem to make sense. Or maybe combine a few maps together to create a narrative that can lead kids in a certain direction.

We’ve used Google aerial photos to hook world history kids before. We can use a similar strategy with middle school US.

So how about this? Read more

Academic discomfort and the problem with history classes

More than several years ago, I asked my daughter, a fourth grader at the time, to work her way through the very cool Plimoth Plantation’s You Are the Historian simulation. It’s a wonderful online tool that asks kids to answer a very simple question – what really happened at the first Thanksgiving. Using evidence and video clips from experts, elementary students develop a thesis and create a final product that addresses the problem.

And I wanted a product review from a true end user. Used to these sort of requests from her history nerd father, Erin plunged in. During the in-depth debriefing over milk and cookies, I asked her a variety of questions about her experience. Much of the conversation is now forgotten but I still remember what she said when I asked her to tell me one thing that she would share with her teacher the next day.

The past is what really happened. And history is what we say happened.

I couldn’t have been prouder.

Of course, Read more

Ripped Apart: A Civil War Mystery

The Smithsonian has always been one of my favorite museum / museums. I suppose a person could add up how many museums, exhibits, and collections they have but who has that kind of time?

There is just so much you can interact with onsite but they also have an incredible online presence. And now, via a handy email from the iTunes people, I just found out that they’ve entered the mobile app world.

The iTunes App Ripped Apart: A Civil War Mystery is their latest cool tool. From the app description:

Ever wondered what it’s like to work at the Smithsonian? With the sudden and curious departure of her last intern, Museum Curator Isabella Wagner needs your help solving a mystery dating back to the Civil War. Could there be ghosts trapped in the basement of the National Museum of American History? Read more

10 things you probably don’t know about Abraham Lincoln

It’s February 12. And we all know what that means.

“Time to go buy Valentine candy?”

Uh . . . no.

It’s Abraham Lincoln’s birthdate. Everyone knows this. Well, maybe not everyone. But for me, Lincoln’s birthday has always been one of the highlights of the year. Seriously. For as long as I can remember, February 12 has been a big day for me.

Lincoln has always been my favorite president. I can remember doing research, if you can call looking at his picture in the L volume of World Book Encyclopedia research, in first grade. And my appreciation for him has only grown since elementary school.

I grew up with the traditional rags to riches story of a self-made man, growing up in the wilds of the American west and becoming president. But he’s become much more complex as I’ve had the chance to spend time with him. Perhaps one of the most powerful professional learning experiences I have ever had was spending a week at Gettysburg College with historian Gabor Boritt.

Lincoln is more than just a tall guy with a really good media team. More than a guy who walked three miles in the rain to return six cents in change and who split wood to make fences.

So today . . . ten things you probably didn’t know about Abraham Lincoln. Read more