I've heard many teachers say, "I love Social Studies, but my students just don't seem to think it's that interesting." Or many people complain, "Social Studies is just learning names, dates and vocabulary." Over the past several years, I have had tremendous success getting students interested in social studies, and success on standardized tests has followed as a result.
This product contains articles about John Brown and his raid on Harper's Ferry, General Sherman's March to the Sea, and what should have happened to Robert E. Lee when the war was over. There are two articles on each topic written from different viewpoints. Students are then asked to decipher the key arguments made on both sides and then take a stance on history. The articles are designed for the 5th grade students I teach, but would be applicable with any upper elementary or middle school classroom.
This activity includes critical reading and writing skills, but also brings history to life. In my early days I had students research key historical figures and they inevitably found the most mundane unmemorable facts about each person. These articles make the stories come to life as the students realize there are always multiple viewpoints of every historical event. The students are then asked to actively involve themselves in the action and TAKE A STANCE ON HISTORY. They are expected to pick a side, and be able to defend it against their classmates' best arguments. The end result is my students have a much deeper understanding of history and also learn key reading, writing, reasoning and debating skills.