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Teacher's Guide: Hints for the Active Learning Questions

1. The profiles should describe Webster's debt to Parkman (which Webster amassed in part by giving his family a more luxurious lifestyle than he could afford), Parkman's reputation for stinginess, and Littlefield's relative poverty, possible resentment of the status enjoyed by the doctors for whom he worked, and potential attraction by the reward offered for information about Parkman's disappearance.

2. Web sites that might be useful for information on certain trials include the Famous Trials site at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Court TV's Crime Library.

1. Before the groups begin work, you might want to hold a general class discussion on the different strategies a prosecutor or defense attorney might use to try to sway a jury. For example, would it be wiser in this case to focus the jury's attention on certain facts about the case, or conversely, to create some sort of strong emotional reaction among jurors, such as hatred or fear? Also, should a summation attempt to be comprehensive, or should it be more selective and brief?

2. You might ask volunteers to circulate their stories among the class or read them aloud.

1. Encourage students to use the Webster trial as an example in the arguments they make during the debate. For example, did the fact that Webster was not allowed to testify on his own behalf make the trial unfair? An alternative to a class debate would be to have students examine recent or ongoing trials that raise one or more of the issues listed here.

2. Ideally, no two students would research the same topic. Point out to students that the Capital Punishment Statistics Web page provides links to Capital Punishment 2001 and earlier reports, which contain detailed information on various relevant topics. Another way to structure the activity would be to have the class use the information on the Web page to prepare a quiz testing people's knowledge about capital punishment (for example, How many states allow capital punishment? How many people were executed last year? Were more blacks executed last year than whites, or vice versa?). Members of the class could quiz other students, friends, and family members, and then prepare a presentation analyzing the accuracy of these responses.

1. Note that the Web site of Harvard Medical School has information on its past locations. At the conclusion of this activity, you might want to have students trace the history of a neighborhood in your own community and discuss the changes it has witnessed.

2. You may prefer to do this activity as a class. Possible paintings include depictions of the First Thanksgiving that contain inaccurate details such as log cabins or Plains Indians (here's an example) and Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's famous painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware" (you might want to have students read a National Public Radio story on the painting). Possible films include They Died with Their Boots On, which includes the "last stand" of General George Armstrong Custer and his soldiers at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and JFK, which examines a possible conspiracy in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Possible stories include that of Ben Franklin tying a key to a kite string and flying the kite in an electrical storm, the young George Washington saying "I cannot tell a lie" and confessing to his father that he had chopped down a cherry tree, and Paul Revere shouting "The British are coming!" during his famous midnight ride.

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