I like to introduce new topics with a movie. Students are much more visual than the past, and in our culture when it comes to information consumption, videos are king!
My favorite movie for introducing the American Civil War is Glory.
Glory is a 1989 American drama war film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The story is based on the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first formal unit of the US Army to be made up entirely of African American men, as told from the point of view of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, its commanding officer during the American Civil War. (From Wikipedia)
Glory's realistic battles, incredible set pieces and brilliant character portrayals fully captures the period of the American Civil War. The students always love watching this movie and it really gets them into the material before we study the Civil War.
Glory will take about three class periods to show, but it is well worth it. It does include some strong period driven language, including the "N" word and "G-D." But not in large amounts, and nothing that isn't used to create realism within the story.
A second Civil War video I like to show before I really get into my lessons is produced by the History Channel. It is episode five of the series "America: The Story of Us." This is a great outline of the Civil War, why it started and how the North eventually won the war.
The best thing about this video? It can be viewed online for free! If you can watch Youtube on your school internet connection, you can show this 45 minute video right from your computer. Here is an embed of the video:
If your school blocks access to Youtube, you can click the link below to order a copy of "America: The Story of Us." This video covers everything from the American Revolution through the Millennium. It should be on the shelf of every US History Teacher.
Next week I will be posting my Civil War Lesson Plans including PowerPoints, detailed instructions and of course, worksheets!
How do you like to introduce new topics?
Do you use video, or stick to texts, notes and lectures?