Newspaper Webquest

Introduction
You are a team of newspaper reporters and editors living in southern Illinois during the Civil War.  This border territory, like Newton in Across Five Aprils, is in a turmoil of conflicting feelings.  Illinois is a Union state, but many people have family and friends in the South.  Many local men have gone off to fight for the Union, but several, like Bill, have left to join the Confederacy.

 

Task
Your team of reporters and editors will research, write, and edit a special edition of your newspaper that focuses on a specific battle mentioned in Across Five Aprils.  In this edition of your paper, you must include at least the following: (1) a news article about the battle (including quotes from soldiers and/or officers); (2) a human interest story (local or national, not directly tied to the war); (3) an editorial; (4) a letter to the editor from a local resident, who may be for or against the war (politician, freed slave, soldier, wife, businessman, etc); and (5) graphics, such as political cartoons, maps, and/or photographs.  In addition, you may want to include other articles or features (true to the time period!) common to many newspapers: (obituaries, sports, classified ads, etc.)

Process

Divide the necessary roles among your group.  You will need an overall editor as well as reporters for each article.  Artistic group members may want to include original artwork.

Decide whether you want to be pro-Union or pro-Confederacy, as this will determine the editorial position of your paper.

Pick a battle mentioned in Across Five Aprils.  Use the Chapter Resources page to begin your research.

Broaden and deepen your research through our class's General Resources page and listing of Primary Documents on the Internet.

Write the articles.
Find the answers to who, what, when, where, why, and how as necessary.
Be sure that your information is accurate - newspaper reporters always check their facts through multiple sources. 
Use illustrations to make your story clear and interesting to the reader.
Write catchy, concise headlines.
Meet your deadlines!

Edit the articles.

Publish your paper.  Posterboard is available once you have a rough draft complete.  Remember that newspapers are printed in columns!

Resources

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
General Civil War Resources

Primary Documents

Advice

Even though you will develop a personal belief about the views of the North or the South, remember your journalistic position and the responsibility to report the battle objectively. Human interest stories and editorials are the areas for you to interject your personal views. Keep in mind your audience at all times.

When writing your articles, be sure to reflect the conditions of the time. These are the kinds of questions you may want to ask as you are researching:

What were typical armaments? (personal and regimental)
How did the events of the battle affect the war?
What was the geography like, and did geography play any role or have any influence in the battle?
What did the soldiers think of the war at this time? (use diaries, letters home, or journals)
What was the media of the time saying about the battle vs. what actually was happening?
What part if any did political cartoons play in the war? Analyze the cartoon, decide what the artist is trying to convey .
Who were the military leaders in this battle?
What were the particulars of the battle? (ie. size of units, casualties, major turning points in the battle, participants in the battle)?
What political events which took place near the time of the battle?

Even though the Civil War took place in the 1800's, take advantage of the technology today. You can download maps or graphics and put them into your newspaper.

Most importantly, use the talents of your team. Divide the tasks but share the ideas. While we are working on this project, you should have regular meetings with your team members..

Evaluation
Your project will be evaluated based on the following rubric.

Conclusion & Reflection
At the conclusion of this project, write your final journal entry.

Extra Credit

Create a Hyperstudio or Powerpoint presentation about the battle
Build a diorama or create a painting to depict a scene from the battle.
Write an article predicting the outcome of the war based upon your battle being won by the other side.

 

adapted from the Civil War Gazette Webquest by
Jim Evans, Teacher on Assignment, Redlands Unified School District