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Lesson Plan

Myth and Truth: The Gettysburg Address

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Myth and Truth: The Gettysburg Address

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Behind every myth are many possible truths allowing us to discover who we were as peoples and who we are today. By exploring myths surrounding the Gettysburg Address, this lesson asks students to think critically about commonly believed “facts” about this important speech and the Civil War. Students first freewrite and discuss questions about how to tell truth from fiction. They then read or listen to the Gettysburg Address and analyze its audience, purpose, content, tone, structure, and delivery. Finally, students research to find the truth behind common myths about the Gettysburg Address and present their findings to the class.

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Speech Analysis Questions: Use these questions to analyze the audience, purpose, content, tone, structure, and delivery of any speech.

Common Myths about the Gettysburg Address: This handout lists several commonly believed myths about the Gettysburg address, the circumstances surrounding its delivery, and its reception.

C-SPAN video resources on Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address:  C-Span offers a collection of video interviews with experts about the Gettysburg Address.

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In his reflection on teaching reading in the social studies classroom, Richard H. Chant asserts: "As much as content-area teachers need to enhance their students' reading proficiency, reading teachers can (and should) enhance subject matter content through their selection of strategies and texts." This lesson promotes just that by not only incorporating an historical document, but by encouraging critical thinking and research to understand the historical context of the document.

Reports of historical events often seem like absolute truth to students; yet behind these events are many possible myths and stories, allowing us to discover who we were as people and who we are today. Although few students realize it, understanding these truths and myths illuminates the ways that their values and beliefs have been shaped by the stories they have grown up knowing, by the education they have received, and by the landscape within which they have lived. All these contexts have contributed to their world views as individuals, as members of families, and as members of communities. These activities explore stories, myths, and truths regarding the Gettysburg Address by considering its composition, its presentation, and other stories related to the speech.

Further Reading

Chant, Richard H. "Is It More than a Supporting Role? Reflections on the Teaching of Reading from a Social Studies Teacher Educator." Voices from the Middle 17.1. (September 2009): 51-53.

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