Guest Blog: Civil War Project Based Learning



BrainPOP Educator, Sara Crawford, Ed. D., is an Instructional Technology Specialist in the Cartwright School District in Phoenix, Arizona. Check out her related lesson plan here!

Educators seem to have an infinite amount of standards to teach with an extremely limited amount of time.  This limits the content being taught and the subjects that we are able to cover.  One way to make the most of instructional time is to integrate subjects through the use of Project Based Learning.

Project Based Learning is an instructional approach that is based on authentic learning activities and center around an overarching question or problem.  This approach to learning mimics the method that we approach situations outside of the brick and motor of our schools.  Project Based Learning teaches our students to utilize 21st Century Skills and also the College and Career Readiness Common Core Standards that will be used in 44 states and territories within the United States in coming years.

On of the cornerstones of Project Based Learning is the students’ own research into a topic.  Strong background knowledge needs to be built by the students in order for Project Based Learning to be truly authentic.  A method that I often use to help students build a foundation of the topic at hand is the viewing of videos via or

The short informative movies located on BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. allows students to investigate a topic.  Students are also able to solidify their understanding by doing the activities associated with each video.

Also, oftentimes a topic may have more than one video associated with it.  A third grade classroom that I am working with is creating digital projects around these guiding questions: What were some of the issues associated with the Civil War? What were some of the contributions of people during the Civil War era?

To answer these questions the students can view a variety of videos located on BrainPOP ad BrainPOPJr.  A few of the movies that the students can watch through BrainPOP are; Civil War: Causes, Civil War: North Verses SouthAbraham Lincoln: Honest Abe, and Fredrick Douglas.  The movies that students can watch through BrainPOP Jr. are: Harriet Tubman, and Abraham Lincoln.

The key to Project Based Learning is to put the control to research, explore, and create into the students’ hands.  We can use BrainPOP to help create student researchers and assist them in developing skills essential for the 21st Century.   In turn, we will all reap the benefits of cultivating 21st Century Thinkers.

Sara Crawford
Instructional Technology Specialist
Phoenix, AZ