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Lesson Plan

Engaging Students in a Collaborative Exploration of the Gettysburg Address

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Engaging Students in a Collaborative Exploration of the Gettysburg Address

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



This lesson plan invites students to learn more about the historical significance of President Abraham Lincoln's famous speech, the Gettysburg Address, as well as the time period and people involved. After reading the Gettysburg Address in its entirety, students work in small groups to closely examine one sentence from the speech. They conduct research to learn more about the Civil War and the context and significance of Lincoln's speech. Using an online tool, students create a multigenre project consisting of three types of writing and a drawing to communicate what they have discovered about the meaning and significance of their assigned sentence from the speech. The class then creates a display of the Gettysburg Address, with students' multigenre projects posted near the applicable lines. Finally, students use the class-created display as a resource for individual writing in which they paraphrase the Gettysburg Address, giving the main points.

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The Gettysburg Address: This U.S. government site features images of the Nicolay draft of the Address, historical background information, and a transcription of the text.

Multigenre Mapper: Students can use this online tool to create multigenre, multimodal texts, including three types of writing and a drawing, in response to the Gettysburg Address.

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Reading comprehension is often linked to understanding. However there is more to comprehending than simply "getting" what you read. In his article from Voices from the Middle, Robert Probst takes a look at his own comprehension and the strategies he uses while reading. He concludes, "Comprehension is too complex to be effectively assessed with anything so simple and reductive as a test, and it isn't achieved by concentrating solely on the text itself, though of course that does require close attention. Instead, to comprehend requires a concerted effort to see through the text to what lies beyond. And that demands an imaginative and committed reader." To achieve this kind of reading, students need the opportunity to examine texts closely and explore the underlying significance. This lesson asks students to do just that by closely examining the text of the Gettysburg Address and exploring its historical context and significance.

Further Reading

Probst, Robert E. "Responding to Reading: You Know What I Mean?" Voices from the Middle 11.1 (September 2003): 56-57.

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