- Conduct web or book research on the life of Abraham Lincoln
- Construct a time line of Lincoln's life
- Whiteboard or chart paper and markers for class instruction and word web
- Butcher paper, two sheets for each small group
- Computers for class use
- Optional: Book resources (for suggestions, check out the Abraham Lincoln Book List)
Bookmark relevant, reliable websites on the computers (or list on a handout) for students to use while researching.
Step 1: Discuss what students know about Abraham Lincoln. Organize responses into a word web on the whiteboard or a sheet of chart paper.
Step 2: Invite students to find out more about this famous American. Encourage them to conduct online research or to use books in the classroom or library. Challenge students to record dates for events they find, including dates for relevant information in the word web.
Step 3: Divide students into small groups and have each group copy the word web from the board onto a sheet of butcher paper. Ask the groups to add information they've found to the web.
Step 4: Have students discuss significant events from their research and small group work.
Step 5: Begin to write events on the whiteboard or a new sheet of chart paper and assign them dates. You may wish to prompt this activity by asking "Name a significant event that happened in 1865." (Lincoln's assassination.)
Step 6: Once you have enough information on the whiteboard or chart paper to begin a time line (3 or 4 entries), invite small groups to create their own time lines on butcher paper. Require that time lines include ten events from at least five distinct years.
Step 7: Once groups have completed the time lines, have them share their work with the class.
Step 8: Hold a discussion about what students have found. Ask:
- Are there any events that you feel are missing from your time line?
- Which events probably shouldn't appear the time line? Why?
- How are time lines a helpful way to show information?
- Ask students to memorize all or parts of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address to recite to the class, or encourage them to research the address.
- Have students conduct research about Lincoln's assassination and write a news article of the event as if they were the journalist reporting on this story for the April 15, 1865, edition of the newspaper.
Have students choose an event from their group time line for further research. Challenge them to create another time line based on that event.
- Did the Web links provide enough information for students to create time lines?
- Was enough time allotted to share and discuss time lines?
- Were the selected web sites useful and interesting to the students?
- What other resources could I have used to help students better understand Abraham Lincoln's life and its relevance to the American experience?