December 22nd, 2008
Looking for Lincoln Through His Words
Lesson Overview

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TIME ALLOTMENT: Two to three 45-minute class periods

In this lesson, students will explore how Abraham Lincoln used the power of words in speeches, letters and other documents. In the Introductory Activity, students will watch a segment from the PBS film Looking for Lincoln featuring Lincoln quotes and try to identify the origin of each quotation. In the first Learning Activity, students will closely examine Lincoln’s use of words in the Gettysburg Address and learn that a short speech can be powerful. In the second Learning Activity, students will discuss different reasons for writing letters and review some of Abraham Lincoln’s letters. In the Culminating Activity, students will write their own speeches or letters and then present them to the class.

Social Studies; U.S. History; Language Arts

Students will be able to:
• Quote famous Lincoln phrases and state the speeches or documents from which they come;
• Cite examples of how and by whom Lincoln has been quoted in recent times;
• Discuss why people still quote Lincoln today;
• Express a point of view in a speech or letter;
• Describe different types of letters and reasons why people write letters.


History Standards for Grades K-4
Historical Thinking Standards
Standard 2: Historical Comprehension

A. Identify the author or source of the historical document or narrative.

Content Standards
Standard 4: How democratic values came to be, and how they have been exemplified by people, events, and symbols

C. The student understands historic figures who have exemplified values and principles of American democracy.

History Standards for Grades 5-12
Historical Thinking Standards

Standard 2: Historical Comprehension

A. Identify the author or source of the historical document or narrative and assess its credibility.

Language Arts Standards for grades 3-5
Writing Standards

Standard 1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process.

Level II (Grades 3-5)
10. Writes expressive compositions (e.g., expresses ideas, reflections, and observations; uses an individual, authentic voice; uses narrative strategies, relevant details, and ideas that enable the reader to imagine the world of the event or experience)

12. Writes personal letters (e.g., includes the date, address, greeting, body, and closing; addresses envelopes; includes signature)

Reading Standards
Standard 7. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts

Level II (Grades 3-5)
1. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of informational texts (e.g., textbooks, biographical sketches, letters, diaries, directions, procedures, magazines)

Listening and Speaking Standards
Standard 8. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

Level II (Grades 3-5)
5. Uses strategies to convey a clear main point when speaking (e.g., expresses ideas in a logical manner, uses specific vocabulary to establish tone and present information)

7. Makes basic oral presentations to class (e.g., uses subject-related information and vocabulary; includes content appropriate to the audience; relates ideas and observations; incorporates visual aids or props; incorporates several sources of information)

12. Understands the main ideas and supporting details in spoken texts (e.g., presentations by peers or quest speakers, a current affairs report on the radio)



LOOKING FOR LINCOLN, selected segments

Clip 1:

Abraham Lincoln’s Words

Clip 2:

Quoting Abraham Lincoln

Clip 3:

The Gettysburg Address

Access the streaming and downloadable video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.

Web sites:
Analyzing the Evidence

This primary source document activity helps students examine key Lincoln documents and photographs through a series of questions. In this lesson, students will be exploring the Gettysburg Address and the Letter to Grace Bedell.

Abraham Lincoln Online: Speeches and Writings
This Web site features speeches, letters and other documents by Abraham Lincoln, as well as background information about the documents. During this lesson, students will be reviewing the following letters:

Letter to Fanny McCullough (1862)

Abraham Lincoln Thank You Letter

Letter of Thanks for White Rabbits (1862)


For the class:

• Computers with internet access (If you do not have internet access in the classroom, you can make printouts of Lincoln’s letters and speeches featured in this lesson and distribute them to your students. See the “Prep for Teachers” section below for details.)
• Computer and projection screen (for class viewing of online/downloaded video segments and “Analyzing the Evidence”)
• Copies of “Famous Quotes Handout 1” and “Famous Quotes Handout 2” (download here) (See the “Prep for Teachers” section below for details.)
• “Letter from Abraham Lincoln” Answer Key (download here)

For each pair of students:

• 1 copy of the “Letter from Abraham Lincoln” Student Organizer (download here)

For each student:

• 2-3 blank sheets of paper on which to write their speeches and letters
• Pencils, pens and crayons


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview all of the video segments and Web sites used in the lesson.

Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer, or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.

Bookmark the Web site used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as del.icio.us or diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal) will allow you to organize all the links in a central location.

Print out and make one copy of the “Famous Quotes Handout 1” for each student.

Print out and make copies of the “Famous Quotes Handout 2.” Cut out the excerpts along the dotted lines. Make enough copies so that each pair of students gets one excerpt. It is fine for multiple groups to have the same excerpt.

Familiarize yourself with the Gettysburg Address document featured in the Analyzing the Evidence interactive. Note: If you do not have internet access in your classroom, print out one copy of the Gettysburg Address for each student.

Familiarize yourself with the Letter to Fanny McCullough, the Letter to Grace Bedell and the Letter of Thanks for White Rabbits (listed in the Web sites section above). Note: If you do not have internet access in your classroom, print out copies of each letter, so that each group of 2-3 students has one letter to review. The same letter can be distributed to multiple groups.

Next: Proceed to Activities

Lesson plans for LOOKING FOR LINCOLN were created by the LAB@Thirteen, Thirteen’s Community and Educational Outreach Department.

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