The American Revolution: An Electronic Field Trip

Project URL: www.teachersnetwork.org/teachnetusa/tgould/revwar.htm 

How it works:
In this program, students use the Internet to research events of the American Revolution, then write a letter to/from a fictitious person who could have been involved in that event.  Prior to their Internet research, they learn the basic facts about major events of the revolution using textbooks and Internet sources. After selecting a topic, students print background information from the Internet. They read and highlight factual information and descriptions for use in their letters. They then compose their letters, using the model letter for guidance. Internet sites for this project are of high interest and include virtual tours that enable students to view historic sights and artifacts, and to read primary source documents. These documents include a wealth of information about the struggles of Revolutionary War participants. Students must evaluate data to create vivid descriptions of events.

Standards addressed:  
Students understand how a revolution can have a profound effect on the economic, political, and social fabric of a nation. They evaluate data by differentiating fact from opinion, identifying frames of reference, and evaluating the author's qualifications. These objectives are taken from the New York State curriculum but could apply to any state or locality.

Materials used:
Students must use computers with Internet access and printers. Ideally, a computer lab that can accommodate a full class would be helpful.

The students:
Students of all ability levels in grades 5-8 can work on this program successfully. The flexibility in topic selection is such that both disabled and gifted students can benefit from participation. Students should have a basic knowledge of computers and the Internet. They can work either individually or in pairs.

Overall value:
Students enjoy researching because of their comfort with the Internet and are engaged in reading sophisticated material. The American Revolution provides an opportunity for students to improve their creative and expository writing skills while learning about an important historical event. Even reluctant readers and writers will be able to complete this task successfully.
Have students highlight the factual information contained in the model letter. This will give them a clear sense of how to integrate factual and fictitious information in their own letters.


About the teacher:
Terry Gould is a seventh grade social studies teacher at South Orangetown Middle School in Blauvelt, New York. She is also team leader of an interdisciplinary team of teachers.  Terry has taught Social Studies in
grades 7-12 in this same Rockland County district for 29 years.


Subject Areas:
Social Studies

Grade Levels: