ALEX Lesson Plan


Did You Hear the News?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Jenny Breazeale
System: Shelby County
School: Oak Mountain Intermediate School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 5174


Did You Hear the News?


After studying about the differences between the North and South prior to the Civil War and how Alabama decided to secede from the Union, students will write a newspaper article on this important decision. They will go back in time and imagine they lived in Alabama as a journalist in the year of 1861. The articles will be published in newspaper format using Microsoft Publisher and distributed.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
TC2 (3-5)
2. Use various technology applications, including word processing and multimedia software.
  • Using navigational features commonly found in technology applications
  • Identifying digital file types
  • ELA2015 (4)
    19. By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the Grades 4-5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. [RI.4.10]
    ELA2015 (4)
    24. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. [W.4.3]
    a. Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator, characters, or both; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally. [W.4.3a]
    b. Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations. [W.4.3b]
    c. Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events. [W.4.3c]
    d. Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely. [W.4.3d]
    e. Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events. [W.4.3e]
    ELA2015 (4)
    26. With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of the first three Language standards in Grades K-4.) [W.4.5]
    ELA2015 (4)
    27. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting. [W.4.6]
    ELA2015 (4)
    39. Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing. [L.4.2]
    a. Use correct capitalization. [L.4.2a]
    b. Use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text. [L.4.2b]
    c. Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence. [L.4.2c]
    d. Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed. [L.4.2d]
    SS2010 (4) Alabama Studies
    7. Explain reasons for Alabama's secession from the Union, including sectionalism, slavery, states' rights, and economic disagreements.
  • Identifying Alabama's role in the organization of the Confederacy, including hosting the secession convention and the inauguration ceremony for leaders
  • Recognizing Montgomery as the first capital of the Confederacy
  • Interpreting the Articles of the Confederation and the Gettysburg Address
  • Local/National Standards:


    Primary Learning Objective(s):

    Using the writing process, students will write a newspaper article on why Alabama seceded from the Union. Students will use desktop publishing software to create and publish the front page of a newspaper. Students will revise and edit with peers.

    Additional Learning Objective(s):

     Preparation Information 

    Total Duration:

    Greater than 120 Minutes

    Materials and Resources:

    Narrative Think-sheet (one for each student)(see attachment), transparency of Think-sheet with teacher's ideas, overhead projector, Alabama History textbook or other resource books about Alabama's secession from the Union

    Technology Resources Needed:

    Computer, Microsoft Publisher or other desktop publishing software (is desirable, but word processing software can be adapted), printer


    Besides differences of opinion on slavery, other issues contributed to the division of North and South. Sectionalism, positions on states' rights, economic and population differences led to the armed conflict between the North and South. Many Southerners wanted to secede (leave) the Union. After Abraham Lincoln was elected as President, most Southerners felt all future national actions would favor the North. After South Carolina seceded from the Union in December of 1860, Alabama chose to elect delegates to discuss the future possibility of secession. This convention was held January 7-11, 1861, in Montgomery. Sixty-one delegates voted to secede and thirty-nine voted to stay in the Union. By the action of the convention, Alabama became the fourth state to leave the Union.

    Students should have a basic knowledge of word processing and the desktop publishing software.

    1.)Distribute newspapers to pairs or small groups of students. Discuss the cover page of the newspaper including title, pictures, quotes, and all other parts of the front page.

    2.)Explain to students to imagine they are journalists living in Alabama in the year of 1861. They are going to write articles about the decision Alabama made to secede from the Union. This is big news! It's going on the front page!

    3.)Distribute Think-sheets for students to use to brainstorm and plan their articles. The teacher needs to thoroughly explain the purpose, audience, topic, and hook on this Think-sheet. Impress upon the students how important it is for a journalist to consider these aspects before writing. The teacher should display a partially completed Think-sheet on the overhead so students will have a model.

    4.)After discussion of the model, students will begin planning their articles using the Think-sheet. They may use their textbooks or other available resources provided by the teacher. Before beginning the first draft of the article, the teacher should review and initial the Think-sheet to make sure students are on the right track. (Remind students that quotes by some of the delegates or people who were living in Alabama would really enhance the article. Also, remind them that journalists present the facts - they should try not to go include their own opinions.)

    5.)After students have completed their articles and revised/edited with several peers, they can begin using the desktop publishing software to publish their articles in newspaper format. Remind them to brainstorm a creative name for their newspapers. They may add pictures either using clipart or they could even draw their own pictures (they should keep in mind not to use pictures that are too modern.)

    6.)Let the students share their newspapers with the class and possibly other classes that are studying the Civil War.

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    Assessment Strategies

    After students have completed their newspapers, the teacher and students will evaluate the articles for accurate facts and information. The teacher will use a rubric (see attachment) to assess each article.





    Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

    Presentation of Material Environment
    Time Demands Materials
    Attention Using Groups and Peers
    Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
    Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.