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Chasing Lincoln’s Killer – A Close Read


This lesson is designed to be sandwiched between two other two-to-three-week lessons. The first lesson is an overview of the Civil War. The focus is big picture using readings and a lecture/discussion format with a standard comprehensive assessment at its conclusion. The final lesson is an in-depth research project on the assassination with a paper and presentation at its conclusion. The goal of the Chasing Lincoln’s Killer (CLK) lesson is twofold: first to create a baseline of knowledge on the Lincoln Assassination; second spend a portion of each class period wrestling as a group with artifacts and primary sources connected to the assassination prior to the individual research project.

The CLK lesson itself will begin with a short exploration of an artifact or document connected to the Lincoln assassination. Students will view the object and discuss its connection to the assassination and its importance historically. The remainder of the class would be devoted to listening to, and discussing the book. This lesson is designed to be interdisciplinary with the English class, using the skills they are developing as they read fiction in English, to analyze a secondary source.

Guiding Questions

  • How do certain artifacts play a role in historical events?
  • How can we use texts to learn more?


  • Understand the events surrounding the Lincoln assassination
  • Understand the events surrounding John Wilkes Booth’s escape, manhunt and death
  • Understand how to analyze artifacts and primary source documents
  • Understand and discuss the impact of Lincoln’s death on the country
  • Read and discuss a non-fiction text on a historically significant event
  • Analyze different and sometimes competing sources to determine accuracy, bias and how they connect to a historically significant event



Lesson Activity One: Analyze Artifacts
  • Students analyze and connect online artifacts to Lincoln’s Assassination

Lesson Activity Two: Close Reading
  • Have students close read along with an audio book of Chasing Lincoln’s Killer

Lesson Activity Three: "Big Picture"
  • Visually create a question board so students can post questions regarding reading
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External Resources

  • Grade Level

    6 to 8

  • Timeframe

    6+ classes (45 min/period)

  • Class Subject


  • Skills

    Critical reading, Exploring artifacts, Critical thinking, Analyzing narratives, Close reading, Using primary sources, Evaluating and making connections

  • Teacher Information

    Dave McIntire

    The Independent School, Wichita, KS

    7th-8th Grade

    American and World History, Civics, Oratory

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