Thursday, December 3, 2015

Civil War Medicine: Analyzing Historical Images

After a few days of introducing the Civil War with my students and talking about some of the early battles, I like to have students complete an activity to explore Civil War Medicine. In this lesson I give students several images from the Library of Congress that depict Civil War Medicine and a journal of a Civil War soldier that describes a field hospital. Students use these resources to help develop a picture of what treatment was like for Civil War Soldiers as well to help them generate questions about what that treatment was like.

If you have not seen the Analyzing Primary Sources (Images) Training Tutorial via Library of Congress it is a great starting point for teachers looking for ways to help students analyze images and how to use the vast resources of images through the Library of Congress. There are lots of useful suggestions and helpful hints for teachers starting out with using primary source images with students.

My Analysis Grid for Image Analysis 
The Library of Congress also has a very useful Primary Source Analysis Tool that is good to use for image analysis. I have taken a few modifications with this template for this particular assignment to help students focus in on a few specific analytical areas of thought.

A goal for this assignment is to help students closely examine images and begin to create inferences from these images to begin to create an understanding of battlefield medicine. We want students to generate questions they may have from these images to help further their curiosity in this topic and seek out those answers to their questions.

The Library of Congress Civil War Collection is a great resource to find images for this activity. If you search "medical aspects" will give you over a hundred images and you can further refine your search if you are looking for specific areas within Civil War Medicine.

Here are three of my favorite images to use from this collection for this assignment.

The Blue and the Gray by Henry Steele Commager
 To go along with the images, I also include a Union soldier's diary entry where he tells of his visit to a field hospital during the Wilderness Campaign.  This account is in one of my favorite series of books  The Blue and the Gray: Volume 1 and Volume 2 edited by Henry Steele  Commager. This is a great book of numerous journals, diaries, and official records from the Civil War. I have found this book a great treasure trove of soldier and civilian accounts of the Civil War (as you can tell with the numerous sticky notes coming out of my books).

After students have looked at the images and journal entry, we discuss our results together as a class. We look at what observations they have made and what questions they have about the soldier's medical treatment. Usually students focus on the large number of wounded soldiers and of course on amputations of the wounded soldiers limbs.

Following our discussion we than check our findings and see if we can answer some of our questions with these video resources.

Civil War Medicine in 4 Minutes via The Civil War Trust
This is a great overview of Civil War Medicine that helps talk about the complexity of Civil War Medicine. The message in this video is great because it helps explain why amputations were so common and that the Civil War Medicine is not as barbaric as it tends to be portrayed.

Civil War 360: The Gruesome reality of Civil War Medicine via Smithsonian Channel
This is another good brief overview of Civil War Medicine that looks at many of the tools used by the doctors of this era.

National Museum of Civil War Medicine
This has a lot of why Civil War Medicine was important (even for today's soldiers which makes for a great connection to present day) and also debunks several myths people have about Civil War Medicine (i.e. Did Soldiers Literally Bite The Bullet?")

Clara Barton National Historic Site (Virtual Tour of her Home)
This is also a great resource to look at the role women nurses had on the Civil War, including Clara Barton.

***NEW 2017***

I learned about this fantastic database of resources titled Civil War Washington at a Teacher Fellowship in Washington D.C. June 2017.  There are lots of resources there but one I want to highlight that fits nicely with this lesson on Civil War Medicine are the Medical Cases. You can search for specific types of medical cases with their search tool (i.e. "Gunshot wounds" "amputation" "dysentery"). These are written by doctors and can be very graphic so be prepared and prepare students before using this database.

Also check out their images of Washington D.C. Hospitals. If you are interested in other primary source documents around the Civil War and Washington D.C. particularly check out some of their other resources.


This is a lesson that I usually do not have to worry about lack of student interest and typically generates lots of great small group discussions among students.

What type of Primary Source Activities do you do with your students during your study of The Civil War? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Helping Students Learn about US Slavery in 1800s: Sixteen Websites

Slave Quarters Mount Vernon
Picture by Lance Mosier
With my students currently working on a self-paced lesson to learn about the institution of Slavery in the United States in the 1800's, I thought I would share some of the various resources I've collected over the years to help students further explore this topic. With recent news about textbooks and how they discuss slavery having other resources can be very helpful for teachers.

Do you have any favorite resources to help students gain a better understanding of this part of American History? I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.

Primary Sources

(1) The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record  
(University of Virginia)
Good resource for images for students to use in projects or find images for students to analyze as a primary source. Use these suggestions from the Library of Congress.

(2) North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements, 1751 - 1840
List of advertisements of runaway slaves. Have students look at these advertisements to examine how slaves were described by their owners and what that says about their attitudes towards their slaves. 

(3) Faces and Voices from the Days of Slavery (The Library of Congress)
This is a great resource of interviews that were conducted in the 1930's of former slaves. Lots of first hand accounts of what slavery was like for those who lived it. I have taken segments from these lengthy narratives to help student's discuss various aspects of slavery.

(4) Unknown No Longer: A Database of Virginia Slave Names
This is a searchable database to look for names of slaves in Virginia. This is a great way for students to see the real names of those slaves who were impacted by Slavery and the documents of where these names are found.

Secondary Sources (Information) 

(5) Slavery and the Making of America (PBS)
This is a really great resource for students to learn many different aspects of slave life. There are already segments from the Faces & Voices of Slavery interviews for student to use. I also really like their Year In the Life interactive to look at how plantation life looked through the year. There are lots of topics to explore and the information is very user friendly.

(6) Landscape of Slavery: Mulberry Row at Monticello
This is a terrific online exhibit from Monticello. The 3-D modeling in the section View Places of the various buildings on the Plantation is a neat interactive exhibit. I personally like the 3-D rendering of a Slave Quarters r, s, t. There is also some great biography information at Meet the People where you can learn about the 88 people who lived and worked on the plantation of Thomas Jefferson.

(7) Many Rivers To Cross Documentary (PBS)
This was a great documentary that aired on PBS back in 2013.  The 100 Amazing Facts Archives have a lot of great captivating stories to share with students.

(8) The Domestic Slave Trade (New York Public Library);jsessionid=f8301464751414432809901?migration=3&bhcp=1
This is a very comprehensive list of maps, texts, and images to help students learn about the Second Middle Passage where slaves moved from the Upper South to the Lower South.

(9) Photos That Bear Witness to Modern Slavery (TED Talk Lisa Kristine)
Many students don't realize that slavery still exists today. This is a great TED Talk that looks at Modern Day Slavery.

Interactive Games/Simulations:

(10) The Atlantic Slave Trade in 2 Minutes (Animated Map)
This is a very powerful map to show how many Africans were forcibly removed to the New World.

(11) 1853 Richmond and its Slave Market (A 3-D Map)
This is a very cool 3-D Map of Richmond that shows many of the important buildings that played a role in the slave market there.

(12) Make Your Own Secret Quilt Message
Slaves found many ways to resist their captivity. This interactive lets students use hidden messages in quilt patterns.

(13) Following the Footsteps: A Maryland Runaway Slave
This is a very simple Choose Your Own Adventure time simulation that lets student's make choices on how difficult running away was.

(14) Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom
This has grown into one of my favorite games for students to learn about the Underground Railroad. The video quality and game play is outstanding. Students will learn a lot about what it took to runway.

(15) Mission 2: Flight to Freedom (Mission US)
I love the Mission US Games. This is another great game where you are a young slave girl in Kentucky and you have to make choices to find your way to freedom.

(16) SlaveryFoot Print
If you are discussing modern slavery, this is an interesting simulation to see how the items we buy might be connected to slave labor. What is your slavery footprint?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

There's Going To Be Fireworks Vol 2

Liberty Bell
Picture by Lance Mosier (Selfie)
It's been two years since I've posted some of my favorite American Revolution resources in There's Going To Be Fireworks. Although I have written Patriot or Loyalist? Espionage During the American Revolution since than I thought I would update some new resources to help you and your students dig into the American Revolutionary War. Happy Independence Day!

Boston Common Picture by Angela Mosier
Ben Franklin's World
Listen to historian Liz Covart podcasts at Ben Franklin's World  as she interviews historians who share their latest work and understanding of early American History. Follow Liz Covart on Twitter (@lizcovart)  and listen to her growing list of episodes. You can also read the books of her guest authors; a great way to add to your summer reading list. If you join her listener community, there are also ways to connect with other people passionate about history on the Poor Richard's Club Facebook Group. A great way to stay connected and learn from historians and people who love history.

The JuntoCast
Listen to a roundtable discussion of historians on The JuntoCast created by Ken Owen, Michael Hattem, and Roy Rogers. This podcast is provides deep insight into historical themes and topics in early American History. A great way for you to stay current on the latest scholarship or a place to share with students to have them go into more depth into topics you are discussing in class.

All Things Liberty: 

The Journal of the American Revolution: All Things Liberty has a lot of great articles written by historians depicting the latest historical research of theAmerican Revolution and the Founding Period of American History. Check out their articles. Below are some of the ones I found of interest.

Mount Vernon Picture by Lance Mosier
Resources from Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon has been very busy expanding their educational resources. Here are some worth checking out.

  • George Washington Digital Encyclopedia: Explore lots of things related to George Washington and the era in which he lived. 
  • Virtual Tour of Mount Vernon: Can't make it to Mount Vernon? Take a virtual tour of the mansion and other buildings on the estate. 
  • Winter Patriots Video: A very well put together video about Washington Crossing The Delaware, the Battles of Trenton/Princeton, and the events surrounding this pivotal moment in America's fight for Independence. 

Independence National Historic Park Picture by Lance Mosier
Fun with Mental Floss
Mental Floss has had some great articles on the American Revolutionary Period. Here were some of my favorites:

Site of the Boston Massacre
Picture by Angela Mosier

The Massachusetts Historical Society
The Massachusetts Historical Society has numerous primary source documents and resources ready to use with you and your students. Below are two online resources from their Online Resources Page:

The Jefferson Memorial
Picture by Lance Mosier
The Digital Declaration of Independence: 
The Digital Declaration of Independence is a very cool web experience that allows users to interact with the Declaration of Independence, the 1823 painting the depicts the signers, and an interactive map to show where they are from.

What are some resource's that you use? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Up In The Sky Look: It's A Bird. It's A Plane......

....No, It's Superheroes in the classroom. ." 

During May and June I had the opportunity to take The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture from edX.  This has been the fourth free online class I've taken from edX. (Some courses have a fee for a verified certificate but all are free to audit. Learn more at their FAQ page)

The course was a fun way to learn from Michael and David Uslan, Dr. Christopher Robichaud, and the one and only Stan Lee (Excelsior!!)  One of the great things about this course that I thought was better than the other edX courses I took was the Facebook groups that were created to continue the discussions and share insight and resources. I learned a lot just from reading and interacting with the other people from around the world. Seeing how comics and the Superhero Genre is viewed in different places was very cool to see. I was very happy to hear that the group decided to create a new Facebook page (Comic Book Teachers) to keep the conversation going even after the official page will go offline in a few weeks. Through my class I have been able to make some great connections with many great educators like  @historycomics (blogs at Using Comics in the Classroom)  and @rwrigley (blogs at Superhero Science). Check out their blogs. They have some pretty cool stuff.

I believe the The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture from edX will start up again on August 12t, 2015 so if you are interested I would definitely check them out. They are also found on Twitter:  @SmithsonianX

I learned a great deal about the History of Comics and their impact on US Culture in the 20th Century. It was fascinating going through the different time periods and seeing how comics changed as American Society changed.

Another great resource about the impact of comics and superheroes is a Documentary from PBS Superheroes: A Never Ending Battle. If you are a Netflix subscriber, you can watch the documentary there. There is a lot of great information there that ties into America coming out of The Great Depression, how World War II led to Patriotic Comics, the impact of the Cold War on society, McCarthyism and it's impact, the rise of Atomic Weapons, cultural shifts in the 1960's had on comics, and much much more.

I am a fan of comics  and now is a great time with the the numerous superhero movies that have come out and are slated to be released.  From taking  The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture  I have thought about ways to incorporate comics and superheroes as possible projects for my students. This might be an option for students to share what they have learned about a concept in US History. Whether it's about our system of government, our Bill of Rights, the Progressive Era Reformers, etc.. students might have fun creating a supehero that is a champion of this concept or era.

My first attempt of students creating superheroes was when I taught science and students had to create a superhero based on characteristics of an Element on the Periodic Table. This was back in 2005 so this was one of my very earliest attempts of creative projects using technology. A lot has changed since then. Students had a lot of fun and enjoyed using some of their creativity to demonstrate what they learned about their element.

Here are some of their videos:




Zirca of Zirconium

My Final Project for The Rise of Superheroes: 

For my The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture  final project we had to create an original superhero based upon a mythological figure, an alter ego for my hero, and a super villain nemesis. For my project I picked an 8th Grade US History teacher who has powers to travel through time as The Historian and using Historical Thinking Skills to save the day. It was a fun creative writing project. I want to develop this more and might be a creative project for my students to continue "the next chapter" of this comic book and let them continue his story. My project can be viewed on Google Slides at: The Historian

Resources I Used To Create My Project:
GodChecker: One of the requirements for my project was to find a mythological connection to our hero. This is a pretty comprehensive database that gives general information on various cultures gods, goddesses, and mythologies.

HeroMachine 2.5. This free website tool lets students create their very own superhero character.  This is how I created my hero and villain for my project "The Historian." This website tool is very easy to use and lots of options. It might not be suitable for real young children and as a teacher I would probably remind students to keep their heroes appropriate for school.

ComicLife: This program is a great tool to create the comic layout. It is very user friendly to use and many of my students have used this to create projects (not comic related) that are very visual. The program does cost, but I'm lucky that my district has purchased the program for student use.

As a teacher I'm always looking for ways to connect with my student's interests. For students who are like me and really enjoy comics and superhero's this might be a fun way for their creativity to shine through yet still reflect their learning of a specific concept or skill they are learning. I am always about giving student's options and creating comics or superheroes might be a great option for some of my students.

Looking For Other Resources:

Here are some resources for using comics I've collected over the past few years. Some I've used, others I've heard about but have not used directly with students. 

Strip Designer: This is an app for the iOS (for both iPhone and iPad) that costs $2.99. Lets you use pictures and has several graphic layouts, callouts, and other features worth checking out. Even if you don't use this to create comics it is a great way to create pretty awesome photo collages. 

ToonDoo: Free website tool to build your own comic strip. Have students create a 3 panel summary of a concept or term describing it in a unique way. I have given this as an option for students for a final project.

Pixton: Website to create your own comics. I have not used this site due to its cost, but might be something worth trying if you are looking for a way to create comics with students.

BitStripsForSchools: Website to create your own comics. I have not used this site due to it's cost, but it might be something worth trying if you are looking for a way to create comics with students.

Make Beliefs Comix! is a free website tool to create comics. What is cool about this site is the various language options (English, Spanish, French, German,  Italian, Portuguese, or Latin. They also have an iPad App (AdFree iPad App is $1.99).

Comic Creator -ReadWriteThink: A free website tool to create a comic strip. They also have a Comic Strip Planning Sheet that students can use to help prepare their comic as well as lesson plans for teachers on ways of using comic strips in their classroom.

WittyComics: This free website tool lets you create a three panel comic. It is limited, but might be quick way for students to create quick a comic strip.

Create Your Own Superhero (Marvel). This free website tool from Marvel lets you design your very own superhero.

Create your Own Comic (Marvel). This  free website tool from Marvel lets you design your very own comic book or comic strip.

Go Animate: This allows you to create animated videos (cartoon based) that might make for a fun resource tool for you to use. They also have a school version GoAnimateForSchools. Check out their pricing options. There is a cost with this service.

ComicBook Plus: This website has a lot of comics from the Golden and Silver Age of Comics. These books are a great Primary Source to look at some of the issues of that era and how they were dealt with in comics. Great resources if you and your students are learning about the Cold War era.
Here are some of my favorites.

DC Comics Wiki: A database of the DC Universe. Lots of information on the known and some less known DC Heroes. As a History Teacher I loved the story of Uncle Sam.  Search the database and find supeheroes that match a topic, theme, or book you are using with your students.

Marvel Comics Wiki: A database of the Marvel Universe. Lots of information of all things Marvel. Search the database and find superheroes that match a topic, theme, or book you are using with your students.

Superhero Science TedTalk: A series of TedTalk videos that explore the science behind various superpowers.

The Graphic Classroom: A list of comics that have been reviewed and categorized by grade level to help teachers and librarians for the best comic literature for students.

AnimeNews Network: Lots of news about the latest in Anime. I have many students who love Anime and I hope this resource helps me find connections to my curriculum.

How do you use comics and superhero's in your classroom? I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My NETA 2015 Takeaways

A mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions- Oliver Wendell Holmes 

On April 23rd and April 24th I had the opportunity to attend the Nebraska Educational Technology Association Conference at the Century Link in Omaha Nebraska. I have attended several NETA conferences the past few years and I have always enjoyed this conference. I am sort of a Tech Geek and love using Technology for personal uses as well as with my student's in my classroom. My brain always hurts at the end of the conference because I always get information overload. There are so many tools and websites that come out it is very hard to keep track of them all. Below are some of the websites and tools I would like to explore more and find ways to incorporate these into my teachings and lessons.

New Websites and Tools Worth Trying:

Website/Tool: Stormboard (

What Is It: A Collaboration Space. Similar to Padlet
Lesson Idea: Might be a way for students to share insights when examining Primary and Secondary Documents.

Stormboard Explained in 60 Seconds

Website/Tool: Plickers (

What Is It: Way to collect student formative data without students having to need a digital device. Students just need printed cards. Teacher needs the app on their Phone/iPad and snaps picture of class to see who gets it and who is struggling.
Lesson Idea: Another great tool to provide formative assessment when asking Hinge Questions to the class.

Website/Tool: QR Treasurehunt Generator

What Is It: Web Tool that allows you to create QR codes to link to content to help create a Treasure hunt.
Lesson Idea: Might be a great way to use iPads and create an Underground Railroad Treasure Hunt for students to complete around the school like they were actually on the Underground Railroad. Each station would have a QR Code and information for students to learn about theUnderground Railroad. 

Website/Tool: Curriculet (

What Is It: Free web tool that allows you to take reading content and imbed annotations, videos, questions, etc..
Lesson Idea: Might be a way to help tier reading texts for students, help students analyze primary and secondary source documents.

Website/Tool: Recordit (

What Is It: Allows you to record your screen (no audio) and share the link to others (Saves the ScreenCast on their server. Also allows you to turn this into an Animated Gif.
Lesson Idea: Might be a way to quickly record "How To Steps" for students on how to use a particular piece of software or website.

Website/Tool: ScreencastOmatic (

What Is It: Screen Capturing Tool to record your screen and share with others. Version 2.0 is coming soon such as narration and editing tools)
Lesson Idea: Might be another way to share "How To Steps" with students, modeling Close-Reading Strategies/Primary Source Analysis, or creating Flipped or Blended Videos for students.

Website/Tool: Google Maps (

What Is It: Create personalized Google Maps.
Lesson Idea: Eric Langhorst has his students create a Google Map as a unit by unit reflection.  Each Layer is a Unit (Layer 1 Personal Interests, Layer 2: Current Events, Layer 3 American Revolution, Layer 3 Constitution, etc...) This might be a great way to help students connect their learning to geographical locations throughout the year and help students reflect what they have learned in each unit.

Website/Tool: Google Earth Tour Builder (

What Is It: Allows you to create Virtual Tours inside of Google Earth.
Lesson Idea: Next year when students are learning about Lewis & Clark, this might be a possible option for students to create a virtual tour of the expedition to highlight key aspects of this historical event.

Website/Tool: Google Cardboard ( & Photosphere IOS App ( 

What Is It: Using 360 Degree Images and this Stereoscope type device, you feel like you are in a virtual world.

Lesson Idea: This would be great as a way to get students into virtual places we study. If I could get 360 Panoramic Images of historical locations students could visit these places as part of our study. I played with one during the Makerspace Playground and it was very cool!  Although some of the Apps (Using the Google Cardboard VR headset with an iPhone) that go with Google Cardboard  might not have direct educational value, they were fun to play with.

Website/Tool: Fantasy Geopolitics (

What Is It: Website where teachers can create teams where they draft "countries" and earn points based upon how these countries appear in News Stories. This "current events" meets "Fantasy Sports."
Lesson Idea: Shared this with our Current Event's Teacher. Might be a fun tool to get students engaged into news and current events in different ways.  This "gamification" approach might be a great way in other ways. I wonder if something similar could be done with news stories involving Constitutional Amendments, Historical Events, etc... that get mentioned in the news where students could "Draft" these topics and see how history is still making an impact today.

Website/Tool: ChatterPix IOS App (

What Is It: IOS Photo App that turns any image into a talking piece.
Lesson Idea: This might be fun to take pictures of Historical Figures and have students use Chatterpix to give biographical information about this person or an important event they are associated with. I could also "spice up" my presentations by creating these "Talking Heads" to share key information to my students in a fun way. 

Website/Tool: Quizizz (

What Is It: Assessment Tool that allows students to test what they know, and allows the teacher to monitor student progress.
Lesson Idea: Students often get Kahoot & Socrative Fatigue as more teachers use those tools. Quizizz might be a great alternative for both students and teachers to assess student's understanding. 

My Tweets from Throughout the Conference