Using primary source documents give history students of all ages a context to explore and analyze information for both mastery and understanding. Digital technology gives teachers access to a wealth of resources to create this kind of hands-on, experiential culture in their history classroom.

Computer with Internet access and printer, class notebook, maps, paper. Needed but not necessary: props for character monologues.

Presentation will be assessed with benchmarks for research and writing project, regular formatives, performance-based monologue, and written summative test.

All Files .pdf format

Character Profiles
Crib Sheet
Final Checklist
Assessment rubric

More Unit Plans:

Civil Rights
Colonial Virginia Life
Lewis & Clark
World War II



Unit Plan: The Civil War
Grade Level: 7 (SOL VUS.7)

Learning expeditions are in-depth investigations of a topic that engages students in the world through authentic projects, hands-on research, and presentation. These unit expeditions should allow for many different learning styles, should give students the opportunity to work both individually and in groups, and should address the SOL requirements.

In this unit plan, students use online primary source documents to investigate the culture and history of the Civil War in the context of individual people. Their research involves creating a factual life and background for a person living during the Civil War, then writing and performing a monologue based on a historical event, perspective, or decision. With some planning, interdisciplinary connections are strong with language arts.


DAY 1: Students are introduced to the key concepts and terms of the Civil War. Class discussion focuses on the simmering tensions of the antebellum period, points out key events and decisions, and sets the stage for our country at war.

DAY 2: Students learn from direct instruction on the causes and effects of secession.

DAY 3: Students work in groups to learn about the daily life of an soldier. Begin to practice fundamental research skills.

DAY 4: Students are randomly assigned a character that they will research and play in a creative monologue. Download “character profile

DAY 5: Students research characters using primary sources.

DAY 6: Students work on writing and performing an historical monologue.
Download "crib sheet"

DAY 7: Students continue research and write rough draft of monologue.

DAY 8: Students practice monologues, provide and accept feedback, and begin rewriting process.

DAY 9: Students create timeline of Civil War, focusing on military and political history.

DAY 10: Students analyze historical photos and documents in class discussion; continue to work on research and writing. Download "worksheet"

DAY 11: Students have final rehearsals.

DAY 12: Students practice monologues and complete guided practice activities.
Download "final checklist"

DAY 13: Students present monologues in character.

DAY 14: Presentations. Download Assessment Rubric

DAY 15: Summative Test