Friday, April 11, 2014

Common Core Update - Civil War Cluster

One of the most tumultuous periods in American history, the Civil War remains an important topic of discussion for students. Whether they are exploring the political storm that led to the secession, or the tragedy of the lengthy war, there are so many learning opportunities that balance well with the Common Core standards. Our new Common Core book cluster for the Civil War blends thought provoking fiction with powerful non-fiction titles designed to give students the tools necessary for in-depth critical discussions. 

The Secrets of Mary Bowser is based on the harrowing true story of a former slave who risks her freedom to spy on the Southern President, Jefferson Davis. After reading The Secrets of Mary Bowser and Lincoln, students can compare the personal stories of both Mary Bowser and Abraham Lincoln. How did each individual deal with the immense responsibility placed upon them? In what ways did both Mary and Lincoln sacrifice personally to achieve their goals? What themes are present in The Secrets of Mary Bowser that echoes the overall turmoil of the war?

Paradise Alley focuses on the Draft Riots in New York, a pivotal event that stirred up issues of class, race and immigration. Use Throes of Democracy to compare the living conditions and events in Paradise Alley with the important events taking place elsewhere in the nation in 1863. In what ways did the Draft Riots in New York affect the country at large? What choices did the author make in Paradise Alley to represent the tumult of the Civil War as a whole?

Using The Impending Crisis, Throes of Democracy, Reconstruction, Sherman or Lincoln, students can compare the real life events with the fictionalized characters and tales from The Secrets of Mary Bowser or Paradise Alley. Through their examination of these titles, students will get a comprehensive view of the Civil War as a whole, and the imagined individual experience of the most difficult point in American history. 

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