Today Teacher Whitney and Teacher Emma’s two sections of US History performed monologues based on their research of the Civil War. Each student had chosen a topic to research and then from within that topic they selected (or created) a person to depict in a monologue. The two sections of students met in the Meeting House and transformed from twenty-first century teenagers to nineteenth century people. Harriet Tubman described her work for General Montgomery and the racism she continued to face even from people who were supposed to be working with her. Three General Grants shared with us their frustrations and hopes before three different battles. A female photographer defended her professionalism and ability to faithfully report the battlefield carnage. A soldier who survived the First Battle of Bull Run wondered how he was to continue on. A wife worried that her veteran husband might be a danger to himself or to her. George Wilkes Booth, on the run after his murder of Lincoln, defended himself as a hero like Brutus.
The best presentations, even taking into account the individual student comfort performing before their peers, were those with the best story to tell. The best stories were those well grounded in research and deep understanding of the war and the issues facing the many different American’s whose lives were affected by it. As demonstrations of learning the monologues engaged students, allowed for analysis and creativity. For instructors, the performances, scripts and annotated bibliographies which were all part of the assessment, allowed for deep understanding of what students had learned and how they were making sense of this pivotal period in American History.