Website review by Ellen Holderman, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2014

Ford's Theatre

Online museum offers exhibits, resources on Abraham Lincoln, Civil War

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Based on 1 review
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5–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Social Studies, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Teachers will find lesson plans and other resources; students can explore independently to learn more about Lincoln.

Cons: There's a lot more here than it may seem at first; sifting through the resources can take time.

Bottom Line: The resources here will add depth to your teaching and boost students' interest for any study of Lincoln and the Civil War.

The best use of the resources on the Ford’s Theatre website would be to integrate them into a unit on the Civil War. Teachers can pull content from the virtual tour or online exhibitions to supplement their own lessons on the subject. The multimedia activities in the Lincoln As a Leader and the Surrender at Appomattox sections use storytelling and primary source materials, and will definitely further understanding of Lincoln's impact on the era. A guided activity, such as a scavenger hunt, would provide focus as students view the virtual tour or online exhibitions. Finally, the My Lincoln video project could serve as a culminating activity or assessment that would require students to apply what they've learned from the unit. 

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The Ford’s Theatre website provides a collection of educator resources about President Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era. The most useful classroom materials can be found under the Education tab, which includes links to learning online, printable resources, and an education blog. A virtual tour and online exhibitions provide access to museum artifacts.

The Explore Lincoln page can be used as a primary text about the era as well as the assassination and its aftermath. This section also includes a comprehensive timeline of the Civil War era. Direct links to two multimedia lesson plans incorporate primary documents and storytelling. Instructions for how to participate in a My Lincoln video project to examine Lincoln’s legacy are also included. In addition to the free resources, a virtual field trip ($125) uses video conferencing to bring the museum into the classroom. 

If your class can’t visit the Ford’s Theatre museum in Washington, D.C., you should take advantage of the resources available on its website, which include many valuable materials sure to enhance instruction about Lincoln, his assassination, and the Civil War. Teachers can visit the site to increase their own background knowledge, access lesson plans, or take advantage of the professional development opportunities the museum offers. Students can conduct independent research, create a video honoring Lincoln, or scroll through the virtual tour and online exhibits. The site provides an interesting and effective alternative to reading from a textbook. Although some exhibits are text-heavy, the images and videos will increase accessibility for all students. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Online exhibits and a virtual tour provide access to museum artifacts and include multimedia experiences that will pique students' interest. Curricular materials are student-centered and encourage participation.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

It's a useful tool for supplemental instruction on Lincoln and his assassination. The site includes lesson plans and professional development opportunities for teachers, as well as some student-facing resources.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Directions for various activities, lessons, and materials are clear. A blog provides additional tips for teaching about Lincoln. Educators will have to do some searching to access all the resources.

Common Sense reviewer
Ellen Holderman Common Sense Education

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Featured review by
Nathan P. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Explore Ford's Theater and the Lincoln Assassination with your students without leaving your classroom.
As a teaching tool, the Ford's Theater website is good, not great. It has some good resources and the virtual field trip is nice for the students to get a visual representation. There is not much interactiveness in the site and the students wont want to keep going back. It works well as a great followup when learning about the conspiracy but will probably not work as the primary source of information.
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