Monday, December 26, 2016

Causes of the Civil War Inquiry and Collaboration

One of the most important routines that secondary students need to master is understanding the question. I often read essays that do not answer all parts of the question (or prompt) or do not provide analysis that the question requires.

The following student work came from a study on the causes of the Civil War. It started with three given questions to which students asked questions they needed answered to find the information required to respond to the given question. The students' questions were shared via Poll Everywhere for class discussion.

This activity got them ready to research several issues related to the causes of the Civil War (collaborative notes link below). After the research activity, we discussed the stronger points and moved on to a longer reading selection, "Why the War Came," which is about the 1850's and how a lot of the issues were pushing the country toward war.

Questions About Questions (Poll Everywhere)

Collaborative Notes - Published Google Doc

I love Google Docs because it is simple yet satisfies many of the needs of a 21st Century connected classroom. Although a lot of businesses and project teams use complex programs to collaborate and publish, Google Docs can do a lot of the same heavy lifting. At the very least, Google Docs provides my students the practice they need to solve technology issues in a collaborative setting.

What's Next?

Final products for this activity could include making maps or timelines, as well as slide presentations or videos. I had a mapping the causes activity that I might want to do in the future so we can summarize and publish the notes.

We might try Google My Maps, Slides, or one of the tools by Northwestern University's KnightLab (timeline, story map).

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