Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hunting for Knowledge

This week our class observed the various battles that occurred in the East, West, and Naval theaters during the civil war. From these observations, we were able to understand the conclusions of the war.      
Map of major battles of the Civil War
      Now that our class has learned about the separations that were created due the elections of 1860, we began to observe the tactics of the Confederacy and the Union. The battles of the Civil War took place in three "theaters": in the west, east, and naval. Our goal was to conclude who the ultimate victor, the north or south, was in each of the theaters. To make this decision we went on a scavenger hunt!
Individuals or groups of two were assigned to a specific battle, and we spent a class to research the battle. Basic information such as the location, date, victor, theater, and reasons for the results were all gathered. This information was all put together in a Google doc with an image, and the first step in the hunt was done: creating the virtual stops. I was assigned to the battle of Antietam, that took place in Maryland. Once my online battle stop was created, a QR code and a shareable link to the Google doc was made, and printed out. The next day in class, we collaborated with the battle stops that came before and after, and exchanged the locations of our signs. After placing our battle signs in a place as tricky as possible, our class began the hunt.
The scavenger hunt took a total of two class, and in will admit that I got more of a workout during those periods than I did in my whole gym semester. I enjoyed learning about the battles using the hunt; it was more fun and hands-on than just taking notes. I think by engaging us in activities like this, classes can learn a lot about the subject without falling asleep.
      Once we gathered the basic information of all twenty battles, the victors of each theater were pretty obvious. My class used Padlet to put together everything learned from the hunt and analyze the conclusions.

Majority of my classmates concluded that the Union dominated in the western theater. Taking the advantages of the lack of supplies the Confederates had, in battles such as the Siege of Vicksburg, the Union. During the Chattanooga Campaign, the north created an effective advance that scattered the Confederate troops, and resulting in an ineffective strategy for the south. In both battles the Confederacy surrendered due to a loss of troops. 
It was concluded that the Union also dominated in the naval theater. The north was better prepared both in strategy and resources, causing a large loss of troops in the Confederate army (a situation similar to the one in the western theater). In battles such as the Surrender of Fort Donelson, the Union army received more reinforcements than the Confederates. These large number of troops surrounded the Confederates until they fled or surrendered.
However, when trying to decide which side conquered the eastern theater, our class was stuck. From the information of all the battles, the Union and the Confederacy seemed to have a fair share of victories. After furthering analyzing the dates of each victories, it was easy to observe that the north dominated in the east over time. As the Union learned new strategies and tactics to take on their rivals, the Confederates slowly ran low on supplies and troops. This imbalance allowed the Union to gain control of the once Confederate dominated eastern theater.
     Due to their lack of preparation and loss of troops the Confederates lost their battles, allowing the Union to conquer all three theaters. This lesson's format with the scavenger hunt and the use of padlet allowed me and many of my classmates to better understand the outcomes of the Civil War, and I hope we do more interactive activities in the future.