Teaching Ourselves - Blue Back Speller | Reconstruction 360

A popular book for teaching spelling and reading was Noah Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book, known as “the blue-back speller” because of its binding. Many enslaved people, including Frederick Douglass, taught themselves to read using the speller, which was first published in 1783.

Reconstruction 360 uses a 360 degree video platform as a storytelling device that lets the audience step inside pivotal Reconstruction events. By clicking on icons within the 360 video the user can access short documentaries that offer the perspectives of multiple characters, historians and descendants. Reconstruction 360 also includes lesson plans, curriculum standards and primary documents. In this module, Teaching Ourselves, welcome to a small school in rural Alabama. Everyone in the community is excited about the new teacher, a recent Normal School graduate who brings spelling books for her students.