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Lesson Plans

Ultimate guide to Jan. 6 hearings: Lesson plans, timeline, key terms

August 4, 2022

 

FILE PHOTO: Police clear the U.S. Capitol Building with tear gas as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather outside, in Washington, U.S. January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo

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This article is a compilation of resources from PBS NewsHour on the Jan. 6 hearings.

It includes background on Jan. 6, a class activity and downloadable PDFs of a timeline, main characters and key terms. For more, there are detailed lesson plans on each day of the hearings, with articles linked to specific witnesses to learn more about them.


Background

On Jan. 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building in hopes of stopping the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 Election.

Fueled by conspiracy theories and false claims of the election being “stolen,” pushed by Trump and his party, the rioters violently breached Capitol security and entered the building.

Lawmakers were forced to pause the certification and hide, fearing for their lives. More than 100 law enforcement members were injured; today, more than 700 individuals have been arrested for participating in the insurrection.

Following the attack, a congressional committee was created to investigate the details of Jan. 6., formally named the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, but commonly referred to as the “Jan. 6 committee.”

In 8 public hearings from June to July of 2022, the committee presented testimony from key witnesses, security and police body camera footage, and further investigation into the events leading up to the attack.

PDF handouts

Timeline | List of witnesses and officials | Key terms

Video

Watch this video summarizing the first Jan. 6 hearing to get a sense of the overall investigation.

(For a shorter version, stop at 4:25.)

For more: Watch this video, ‘How the Capitol attack unfolded,’ summarizing what happened on the day of Jan. 6, 2021. (Warning: Some footage may contain violence unsuitable to younger audiences.)

Class activity

These are two activities that take 15-30 minutes each. Choose what best fits your class.

Small group discussion (15 min)

Break into small groups of 3-4 students and have them discuss the following questions:

  1. What do you already know about the Jan. 6 attack? Create a list of what you have already heard or seen in the news.
  2. Based on the video, what do you think is the main goal of the committee? What are they trying to reveal to the public? Brainstorm ideas and have each group decide on and share one goal.
  3. Do you think it’s important to investigate the Jan. 6 attack? Why or why not? What impact will this investigation have on the American public and our future?

Have each group share their answers to the class.

Role-play activity: Imagine yourself as a Jan. 6 Committee investigator (30 min)

You have been assigned to be a Jan. 6 Committee investigator to find more information on what occurred on the day of the attack. You have three main tasks:

  1. Find one key witness to interview. View this list of Jan. 6 witnesses and select one, or think of someone not included to interview. Who would have the best first-hand information about the attack? Who would have the best information about the plans to change the results of the 2020 presidential election?
  2. Come up with a list of questions for the interviewee. What would you like to learn more about? What do they specifically know that you can’t ask anyone else about?
  3. Make a list of other evidence that would help answer your questions. For instance, the committee utilized police body camera footage to help understand the physical danger that members of Congress were put into on Jan. 6. What other physical or documentary evidence would help the committee and the public understand Jan. 6 and the plan to overturn election results?

Learn more: Jan. 6 Hearing Lesson Plans

Below is a compilation of lesson plans and videos summarizing each day of the hearings. Some witnesses have articles hyperlinked to learn more.

Day 1 – June 9, 2022

Lesson plan: What we learned on Day 1 of the Jan 6. investigation

Summary: The Jan. 6 congressional committee is set to lay out its evidence in detail starting Monday after a dramatic opening night. In primetime Thursday, the panel accused then-President Trump of an attempted coup. In turn, the former president went online today to deny he urged supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol. 

People featured:

  • Liz Cheney: Jan. 6 committee chair, representative of Wyoming 
  • Bennie Thompson: Jan 6. committee chair, representative of Mississippi
  • Caroline Edwards: Capitol police officer injured on Jan. 6
  • Nick Quested: filmmaker documenting far-right extremist group the Proud Boys
  • Ivanka Trump: daughter of Donald Trump 

Day 2 – June 13, 2022

Lesson plan: What stands out from Day 2 of Jan. 6 Committee Hearings

Summary: With the second day of Jan. 6 committee hearings complete, we get two perspectives on the day’s events. Ben Ginsberg, one of Monday’s witnesses and a longtime Republican elections attorney who has worked with the RNC and multiple presidential campaigns, and Cynthia Miller-Idriss, who runs American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab, join Judy Woodruff to discuss.

People featured:

  • Ben Ginsberg: Republican elections attorney 
  • Cynthia Miller-Idriss: director of Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab at American University 

Day 3 – June 16, 2022

Lesson plan: Day 3 of Jan. 6 committee hearing examines how Trump pressured Pence to overturn 2020 election

Summary: The Jan. 6 committee held its third public hearing on Jun. 16. The focus was on the role of former Vice President Mike Pence during the counting of the Electoral College votes, and public and private efforts led by former President Trump and his allies to pressure Pence to throw out the results.

People featured:

  • Michael Luttig: former judge for 4th circuit court of appeals
  • Bennie Thompson: Jan 6. committee chair, representative of Mississippi
  • Mike Pence: former Vice President to Donald Trump
  • Greg Jacob: former Pence counsel
  • John Eastman: former Trump attorney 

Day 4 – June 21, 2022

Lesson plan: Updates from Day 4 of Jan. 6 committee hearings

Summary: The Jan. 6 committee held its fourth public hearing Tuesday on the U.S. Capitol insurrection, focusing on the pressure former President Trump exerted on state legislators and state and local election officials to throw out the 2020 election results.

People featured:

Day 5 – June 23, 2022

Lesson plan: Day 5 of Jan. 6 hearings details how Trump tried to use the Justice Department to stay in office

Summary: On the fifth day of the Jan. 6 hearings, three top Justice Department officials recounted how former President Trump wanted the department to undermine the 2020 election.

People featured:

Day 6 – June 28, 2022

Lesson plan: What we learned on Day 6 of the Jan. 6 committee hearings

Summary: The Jan. 6 panel met Tuesday for a quickly scheduled hearing, its sixth this month, to present new and “urgent” evidence about what former President Donald Trump knew before, during and after the Capitol insurrection. The hearing included the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

People featured:

Day 7 – July 12, 2022

Lesson plan: What we learned on Day 7 of the Jan. 6 committee hearings

Summary: The Jan. 6 committee held its seventh public hearing Tuesday afternoon with a focus on connections between extremist groups and the Trump White House. The hearing ended with a dramatic revelation that former President Trump recently called a witness the panel was talking to, an action referred to the Justice Department.

People featured:

  • Jason van Tatenhove: former spokesperson for Oath Keepers (right-wing extremist group)
  • Pat Cipollone: former White House Counsel
  • Derek Lyons: former white house staff secretary
  • Sidney Powell: former Trump campaign attorney
  • Steve Bannon: former white house strategist
  • Stephen Ayres: Jan. 6 capitol rioter

Day 8 – July 21, 2022

Lesson plan: What we learned on Day 8 of the Jan. 6 hearings

Summary: House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol concluded its first round of public hearings Thursday night, with a nearly three-hour presentation centered on a crucial 187 minutes on that day featuring first-hand accounts inside the White House. This as new information showed that some law enforcement feared for their lives.

People featured:


Evelyn Chi, a rising sophomore at Amherst College and intern with NewsHour Classroom, wrote this study guide with editing by Victoria Pasquantonio.

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