This summer, I was recruited and contracted to write some lessons for the Lincoln Presidential Foundation in Springfield, Illinois. What an honor it was to work on a project called Warning Signs. The course is described thusly:
"Warning Signs" explores national events in the pre-Civil War period (1849-1860). Resources provided include transcribed primary sources, films featuring noted experts on historical events and politics, and thematic lesson plans designed by award-winning educators to promote inquiry and historical literacy. Explore crucial evidence, historical context, and different perspectives about an extremely polarized moment in U.S. history and what it reveals about maintaining a healthy democracy today.
These plans were not simple. The material gets complicated very quickly, and some of the primary documents are deep and dark. To manufacture lesson plans for fourth- through sixth-grade classes was something that required a certain degree of agony and considerable consideration. Of course, they could easily connect with older students as well.
Of course, you might also appreciate the four documentary-style videos that the lessons support. While the lessons I wrote focus on Missouri's own Dred and Harriet Scott and their case for freedom that spawned sharp responses from Presidential Candidate Abraham Lincoln, the videos will outline several more warning signs that predicted the inevitable American Civil War. I am including the trailer for the videos below. The videos themselves range from six to ten minutes each and may be found at the Warning Signs link or on Youtube.