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Ken Burns' "The Address" lesson plans live

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Educators, homeschoolers and parents take note! In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address and the April 15 premiere of Ken Burns' latest documentary, "The Address," PBS and Burns have launched a national initiative to "Learn the Address." But, to take the project even further, we're excited to provide great classroom resources, materials, lessons plans and activities that will make learning about this import piece of American history even more interesting and engaging!

Reciting the entire Gettysburg Address is a challenging task for anyone, but it's an extremely worthwhile activity that can provide important benefits to students' brain and development and serve as the basis for higher level thinking. From memorization tips to presentation practice and pronunciation and vocabulary practice to lesson plans and uploading your students' videos, we and PBS have some great ideas and tips for you. Read on to see what we've got!

Memorization and Presentation Practice:

  • Have your student incorporate subtle hand or body gestures to accentuate the meaning of various parts of the test. Doing the same gesture at the same place in the speech is a great way to help with memorization as they recite.
  • During practice, students can record themselves with an audio or video recorder to help form their voice, tone, volume and pronunciation. Video recording can also help improve physical presence (stance, gestures, eye contact and facial expressions).
  • Find even more ideas for help memorizing the Gettysburg Address here.

Pronunciation and Vocabulary Tips:

  • As you begin, work with students to clarify any issues surrounding vocabulary words in the Address.
  • You can help students understand these words using synonyms, like liberty/freedom, conceived/created, proposition/belief, hallow/holy, endure/last.
  • If your student needs to work on the articulation of multisyllablic words - such as "dedicated," "propostion," "battlefield," "conceived," "consecrate" and "devotion" - check out these tips from the folks over at the ESL Trail!

Presenting and Uploading:

  • After your students are ready to present, try having them do a "dry run" in front of a small group ... the in front of a larger class! One student (or you) can act as a prompter if they get stuck on a word or transition.
  • Students can record their speeches on their own, informally, or, if you prefer, present to a live audience of your choosing at an assembly or special event!
  • We have step-by-step instructions for uploading your students' videos right here:
  • Be sure to use the AETN widget to include your speech in the Arkansas collection at:

Lesson Plans:

Want to take all of this a step further? Learn about Lincoln, the Civil War and the Gettysburg Address within the context of your regular classroom lessons! We have Common-Core compliant materials that mesh with curriculum for U.S. history, English/language arts and at art on our website: