Americans love a conspiracy and the JFK assassination conspiracy became one nearly right from the start. With the recent document dump at the National Archives, there is renewed interest yet again. American students are not immune to that curiosity!
American students also get a lot of their information from the media, be it TV or movies or social. One thing I found over my years of teaching is that students were susceptible to the influences of movies because what they saw, they believed. It is very hard for students to tell the difference (because they just don’t know the history) what is real and what is fake. As a result, they can be misled into believe “media history” rather than real history.
This unit on the JFK assassination was developed to help with that. Not only does it provide them with history about JFK and his legacy, but it also gives them the opportunity to analyze media for truth and recognize how a story can be manipulated to be “true” by someone who wants you to believe it.
Using two video resources, Oliver Stone’s 1993 movie JFK and an ABCNews special presentation with Peter Jennings, The Kennedy Assassination: Beyond Conspiracy, the students are asked to convince their audience through a persuasive essay on whether or not there was a conspiracy. The unit can create media awareness, warn against confirmation bias, develop research and writing skills, as well as learning to create a persuasive argument using evidence and documentation.
Included in this unit:
1. Unit planner/timeline
2. A newspaper article about conspiracies
3. JFK assassination conspiracy theory notes for background info
4. Movie notes handout
5. JFK persuasive essay prompt
6. JFK essay rubric
This was a very popular unit in my classroom and I am sure it could be a popular one in yours too! The students are fascinated with all the twists and turns, regardless of whether they come to the conclusion of a conspiracy or not.
**Both films are available on Amazon
**One film is "Rated R" and you will want parental/administrative permission for this unit. I have a permission form in my store as well.