A Comprehensive Curriculum Guide for The War Outside My Window

Kimberly Conrad and Janet Croon, ed. A Comprehensive Curriculum Guide, The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865 (Savas Beatie, 2019).

You all know how excited I was about Janet Elizabeth Croon’s The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865. I reviewed it very favorably and Instagrammed it too. Because why the hell not? I so enjoyed the book and found the editing to be so insightful that I recommended it to a number of my Civil War students this year who were working on projects concerning Confederate civilians - especially children.

Well…guess what, Kimberly Conrad and Janet Croon have assembled a Comprehensive Curriculum Guide to accompany the book, available now for preorder…and ready for shipping on July 3, 2019. If you are a teacher who plans to use The War Outside My Window in a classroom setting, then you need to get this guide, especially if you think that a hands-on interactive approach to teaching is a useful way to encourage kids to engage with primary source material (hint: it is).

The guide comes complete with a variety of inviting lesson plans that relate to Gresham’s diary, a section called LeRoy’s Lexicon that will familiarize students with vocabulary common to the 19th century, and something called an Interactive Notebook that places students back in time, so to speak, to investigate events as if they were there. I have had my students engage in such activities, such as Civil War soldier letter writing, and I promise - this kind of stuff is a hit.

The study questions are well thought out and will help students situate the very personal events in LeRoy Gresham’s life in the broader context of the Civil War. The questions and other activities are challenging to be sure, but what better way is there to teach the Civil War than by challenging students to think about perspective and to negotiate some of the more uncomfortable issues with primary sources? I only wish all edited collections of letters and diaries had such a guide to accompany them…publishers take note: the Savas Beatie crew is on to something here.

With compliments,