The second of my two Civil War sections just finished their final exams. They had 90 minutes to write about the evolution of the conflict from limited to hard war. Students analyzed how and why the war evolved, the relationship between the battlefield and home front, national politics, and ultimately the redefining of freedom and liberty. I decided against a more traditional objective test since just about all of my students are seniors who need as much practice as possible writing analytical essays before they head off to college. I used the same format for their midterm exam, which focused on how Lincoln came to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
This is the first year where we’ve moved from a semester to a trimester system. It hasn’t made much of a differenct to my survey courses, but I’ve had to focus much more on what I want to teach in my electives given that I have four fewer weeks to work with. I had a great time with these students. Both sections were interesting and worked consistently throughout the semester – only a couple of early cases of senioritis. Luckily, most of my students are scheduled to take my course on Civil War memory which begins after the Thanksgiving break.