by Lisa Tome
Perryville Middle School eighth graders haven't learned a single classroom lesson about the Civil War yet.
But they are already clamoring to go to Gettysburg.
Weeks before the classes begin studying the Civil War, social studies teacher Delcina Creswell invited a group Civil War reenactors to the school.
For the last eight years, the school has hosted a reenactment event each spring. While the former group was good, the new group has found a way to mix new technology with authentic Civil War history. Creswell said engaging students and allowing them to use smart phones made all the difference. "This was really interactive. The other group was artillery," she added.
The students made their way around three different learning stations.
"It motivated them to learn and sparked their interest," said Creswell. "They are
begging me to take them to Gettysburg."
The reenactors, from the 2nd Maryland Company D Infantry CSA taught students about a soldier's life. They had to line up and march in formation. They also learned to load a simulated weapon. "It was amazing to see them follow orders. Within 15 minutes, they were marching in formation," said Creswell.
The second station allowed students to use their phones. They could scan objects and learn about various war implements. At the end, they took a quiz to test their knowledge.
There were also accommodations for those without phones - face to face discussion with reenactors.
The third station was all Maryland history. Local points where skirmishes and significant war events occurred were spotlighted. The students also learned how their home state was divided. They were forced to mock battle their friends during a brother versus brother exercise. "There was all kinds of human interest stories. This group is coming back next year and the idea is to expand it even more," said Creswell.
School principal Shawn Johnson said the event went better than expected. "It was a great way to share history," he said.