New video introduces children to people from the American Revolution

By Marc Ransford

MUNCIE, IN - Fourth- and fifth-grade students will soon learn that Revolutionary War icon George Rogers Clark lived, worked and fought in a fledgling multicultural nation, thanks to a new DVD video series from Ball State University.
 
"The World of George Rogers Clark" brings the Revolutionary War to life as re-enactors tell their stories from the viewpoints of various participants, including slaves, British soldiers, French and Spanish residents, Native Americans and women. Filming was done at historic sites in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

Clark is best known for capturing forts in Kaskaskia, Ill, in 1778 and Vincennes, Ind., in 1779, which dramatically decreased influence by the British in the Northwest Territory. As a result, Clark is described as the "Conqueror of the Old Northwest."

The video series has been produced by Ball State students through an immersive learning experience under the direction of history professors Ronald Morris and Daniel Ingram.

 "Students will learn about the different attitudes of people who allied, fought or remained apathetic to Clark," Morris said. "Clark could not have conquered the West without the support of the French and certainly without the consent of the Indians who lived in the area.
 
"We hope to enrich the curriculum and instructional practices of teachers and students by creating a way they can experience some of events of the American Revolution by meeting some of the characters who participated in it."

In the videos, a British soldier talks about his view of Clark, a French trader discusses the difficulty of choosing an alliance, Spanish men reveal their relationships with the American leader while Native Americans discuss their respect and dislike for him.

The videos also incorporate the impact of the Revolutionary War on women with French-born and Virginian characters discussing their homes on the frontier.

Morris said the videos support Indiana's social studies standards for fourth and fifth grades and related teaching materials support schools in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Through the support of a Ball State Provost Immersive Learning Grant, video production started in 2011 with research and writing, and continued into summer when Morris' elementary social studies methods classes began to develop curriculum to support the video by testing it with fourth-graders and their teachers.

The project was completed in cooperation with the university's Building Better Communities Fellows and Emerging Technologies Media Development and Training programs.

The video is part of series made for classroom teachers and created by immersive learning classes under the direction of Morris. Other titles in the series include "The Noble Experiment" (2009), "Finding Harmony" (2008), "Madison, Indiana, a History: The Ohio River Valley" (2007), and "Traces and Trails: Intersections of Wayne County" (2004).

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