Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Assassination of Lincoln CSI Activity

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."

I would love to take my students to Ford's Theatre, but I don't think my Principal would provide the budget for it. So instead I provide students with these websites to help them learn more about the players involved in the case and what happened on the date of the assassination and the following manhunt that took place. These websites are full of primary sources, artifacts, and general information about the events that took place surrounding the Lincoln Assassination.

Update 2016 Due to changes in Websites these are current websites that I use with students

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.