(sample interactive notebook page)
The Civil War is one of the most interesting units for students and its a lot of fun for teachers to teach. It is the pivotal change in American History as our country is divided on the issue of slavery, taxes, and economic differences. As history teachers we understand the STAAR exam is not longer about simply memorizing dates and people, but rather students have to be able to make connections (this is the hardest part for them). To help my students understand why the Civil War happened and make a connection to an early unit on the Constitutional Convention. I used an analogy of a band-aid. First, I asked students why we use band-aids. The most common answer was to place it on a small cut. Second, I asked what would happen if we placed a band-aid on a large cut and did nothing else with it. They said the band-aid would do nothing for the cut, it would all bloody, the cut could get infected and then we would have to go to the doctor. I told them is is what happened to America we had an issue with slavery when we first wrote our Constitution. I asked students how we solved the issue they yelled out the 3/5 Compromise. Most students are visual so I had to make my band-aid analogy come to life. I took out a whole sheet of white paper and said “this represents America.” I then had a students poke a whole in the paper. I told them the hole represented slavery. Instead of going to the “doctor” the Framers placed a band-aid on the slavery hole, so we placed a piece of tape over the hole for the 3/5 Compromise. The Framers thought everything was going to be okay, BUT when we turned the paper over we could still see the whole. Next came the issue over tariffs. The Nullification Crisis poked another whole in our country (student poked another whole). Again we just placed a band-aid on the hole with Henry Clays Compromise of Tariffs. This provided the North and South with temporary relief, but my students could see we had bigger problems because the holes were starting to break our country apart. Next we had to deal with the issue of SLAVERY AGAIN! The original hole spread as we needed to determine how to handle the spread of slavery. With the North saying “no” and the South saying “yes” to slavery moving west. The country looked towards Henry Clay again to create a band-aid. This time he created the Missouri Compromise. Still not wanting to deal with the intense issue of slavery and moving west we created yet another compromise. I had students rip the paper again this time we placed our last band-aid Compromise of 1850, on our already tattered paper. At this point students could see why the Civil War had to happen. Our country was ripped apart and the only way to put it back together was to FIGHT!
Check-out my lesson: