In remembrance of the 150th Anniversary of the Assassination of Lincoln, here is a fun activity that I have my students complete at the conclusion of our unit on the Civil War.
Students are broken up into CSI Teams and have to learn as much as they can about the events that led to this national tragedy. I use a variety of video, music, primary documents, and website resources to help students investigate this pivotal moment in US History.
The President Has Been Shot:Students watch the assassination scene from the movie The Conspirator and take notes of what they saw as well as questions that have been raised from the video. This is a good time to introduce students to the fact that this was a "conspiracy" and there are several victims and villains in this story. It is good for students to ask a lot of questions and brainstorm things they need to learn more about before they can solve this heinous crime.
If you have not seen the movie The Conspirator, it is a really great historical drama that looks at the Mary Surratt Trial. The Movie Trailer is below. This movie in itself could be a full week long lesson on the trial and The Conspirator Website does have education resources worth investigating. They have lessons that examine issues surrounding a fair trial, rights of women in the 19th Century, etc..
Students Are On The Case:
Students are told that they have been hired by Secretary of War Stanton and have been assigned the task to track down the assassins and unravel the conspiracy behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. I really "cheese" this up and play the theme song from CSI as we go over the directions.
Students are broken up into teams and they are given a Crime Scene Report. On this report students record key information about the "Victims" and the "Conspirators."
Update 2016 Due to changes in Websites these are current websites that I use with students
- The Scene of the Crime (360 Virtual Tour Google Arts Institute Fords Theater)
- Examine Events of April 14th, Explore The Story, Examine The Evidence (Fords Theater)
- Watch the Final Days of John Wilkes Booth (Video on History.com)
- Killing Lincoln (National Geographic) to explore events around the Assassination and the tracking down of the Killers.
The Crime Has Been Solved
After students have completed their crime report, we play a Socrative Space Race Game having the teams play against each other over their knowledge of the Lincoln Assassination. Students enjoy the excitement of tracking down the conspirators and learning more about the events that surrounds Lincoln's Assasination.
Here are some other great resources about the Lincoln Assassination. I would love to hear what you use with your students in the comments section below.
- Mr. Lincoln's WhiteHouse via the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
- The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln Resources via the Smithsonian Magazine Website
- What the Newspapers Said When Lincoln was Killed by Harold Holzer, Smithsonian Magazine
- Misinformation and Conspiracy Theories about the Lincoln Assassination via Ford's Theatre Blog