Using the Song
Distribute the sheet of lyrics to the song The Battle of Fort Donelson (Do not
yet distribute highlighters)
Play the song The Battle of Fort Donelson, cut #4 from CD, disc 1.
Initial discussion and exploration of meaning:
(if a class has proven reluctant to engage in discussion, this may be
eliminated. In such a case, move on to Part IV).
Not all questions have to be asked. Use your knowledge of your students
to determine which questions might be most valuable. Do not be reluctant to ask
additional questions of your own creation, or to allow students to consider
questions raised by the students.
What sort of mood or atmosphere is communicated
by the poem’s words? Sad? Happy? Triumphant? Angry? Bored?
If the narrator had read the poem in another
way, would that have changed the mood of the poem?
In your opinion, why did the narrator read the
poem as he did?
If you had been the narrator, would you have
read the poem, or certain sections of it, differently than the narrator you
What mood or atmosphere was communicated by the
In your opinion, why did the song writer create
the music that he did?
Does this seem to be a poem written by a person
who fought in the battle, or who learned about it later?
What part in the poem struck you most
Would you call this a “pro-war” poem, and
“anti-war” poem, or neutral on the question of the justification of war?
What parts of the poem seem to be most factually
What parts are most emotionally based?
Would you say that the author of this poem is writing
from the Confederate point of view, or the Union point of view?
What factual information did you learn from the
Further Exploration and Development of
Students read the poem to themselves and circle words
they do not understand. Depending upon the size and academic level of the class, students can be
assigned specific verses by number. In more academically advanced classes,
students can be assigned more lines. At a minimum, students should be assigned
four lines (there are 34 lines of lyrics, two of which are repeats, leaving 32
lines of text for examination). At a minimum, assign 4 lines.
Have students get in groups. If students were
assigned sections of lyrics, each group should be arranged to ensure all lyrics
were covered by a member of the group. One method of group assignment is to use
the site http://www.random.org/lists/
Students compare understandings of words and
decode meaning of words based on context. They also choose a student to report
to the class.
Students return to whole class instruction.
Project poem on board. Class reads poem
together. Each group spokesperson is asked to give several words they
discussed. Circle/highlight those words on projection. Discuss meanings.
Double check meanings against dictionary.
Alternatively, at this point teacher could clarify meanings as a time saving