Teacher Resources

In this activity, students write informative/explanatory texts describing individuals in world history. This self-paced module is aligned to College and Career Ready Standards for Literacy in Social Studies/ History Frameworks.

Please note, in the second part of the Learn It section, there are links to writing samples. These are real examples from students, and some do contain spelling errors.

Please review Accessibilityopens in new window page for all of your students.

Module Information

  • Grade band: 6-8
  • Readability level: Lexile Level 1180
  • Focus Standard: WHST.6-8.2
  • Topic: The Role of African Americans in the Civil War
  • Completion Time: 20 minutes
  • Vocabulary: Visit the Glossary page or click on words highlighted within the module for a narrated definition.

In addition, students are directed to submit their writing to the teacher. Use the WHST.6-8.2 rubric to score the writing. For the Conquer It section essay, be sure to look for a synthetic summary and use effective feedback strategies to help students improve their writing.

This module contains several interactive features. Watch the Learn How to Use this Module tutorial to familiarize yourself with these features.

Student Resources for this Module

In this module, students are provided with links to external websites. The sites have been chosen for their content and grade-level appropriateness. Efforts are made to minimize linking to websites that contain advertisements or comments, but some of these websites may contain these features. Teachers should preview all websites before introducing the activities to students and adhere to their school system’s policy for Internet use. In addition, multimedia on these externally linked sites may not be accessible to all users, such as those individuals requiring a screen reader or using a tablet.

Library of Congress: Civil War and Reconstruction

National Archives–Teaching with Documents: The Fight for Equal Rights: Black Soldiers in the Civil War

Project Write Graphic Organizers

CCSS Literacy eHandbook: Write Informative/Explanatory Texts

Student Writing Tips: Inform/Explain: Writing to Inform or Explain

Student Writing Tips: Sources: Using Information in Your Writing

The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry

The 54th Massachusetts: History on the Battlefield

54th Regiment

Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial

Achieve the Core

Teacher Resources for this Module

Click on the links below for more information about the following topics on writing informational texts:

Researching a Topic: Student Writing Tips: Research: Gathering Information through Research

Informational Writing Tips: Student Writing Tips: Inform/Explain: Writing to Inform or Explain

Transitional Words and Phrases

N.Y. Times: Compare-Contrast, Cause-Effect, Problem-Solution: Common 'Text Types' in The TimesThis resource provides examples of cause and effect, problem and solution, and compare and contrast texts.

Thesis Statements

Using This Site

This lesson is built for use on classroom computers and tablets. If you have access to a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or an interactive whiteboard in your classroom, you may complete the lesson in your classroom. Otherwise, you will need to schedule time to use your school's computer lab. For technical specifications, see below.

Some activities on this site may include videos and narration, so you may want to have headphones available for students working at individual stations. For best results in viewing the videos and interactives, you should have a high-speed, stable Internet connection.


This site is an Internet-based activity, and it was built to run on the following computer operating systems and browsers:

  • Windows 7 or Newer: IE 8, 9, 10, 11; Current version of Chrome; Current version of Firefox
  • Mac OS 10.7 or Newer: Current version of Safari
  • iPad2/iOS6 or Newer: Current version of Safari
  • Android 4.0 or Newer: Current version of Android browser
  • Chromebook: Current version of Chrome

Users running Internet Explorer 8 will not be able to use the highlighter tool. Instead, teachers should consider partnering students for a brief discussion.

Visit the Accessibility page for detailed information on the site's accessibility features.