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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

The Lessons of Emmett Till

Project URL

How it works:
This WebQuest is designed to take students on a journey into the darkness that is race prejudice and the often-violent means in which it is manifested. Students investigate the murder of a 14-year-old Chicago boy visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955. Emmett Till's lynching may be one of the most important moments in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Students approach the event from different angles to determine how this could have happened in the America of 1955. The final activity is a moderated forum where each group presents their findings and takes questions from the audience.

Standards addressed: 
The Lessons of Emmett Till addresses New York State standards in history, geography, civics, behavioral studies, life skills, mathematics, technology, and art.

Materials used:
Materials include several computers with Internet access and word processing (Word, AppleWorks), and drawing or photo manipulation programs (Photoshop, Illustrator) as well as a spreadsheet creator (Excel), a copy machine, and, possibly, conventional drawing or painting tools.

The students:
This is a project for more mature students, as some of the images provided are disturbing and not suitable for younger students. This project is listed as being appropriate for high school students or more advanced junior high students.

Overall value:
The Lessons of Emmett Till approaches its topic from many angles and requires students to get involved from various directions. They make written reports that include charts they create from the information mined in guided web activities. They discuss not only what happened to this young man, but how these same issues relate to today's world.
The teacher is to be advised of the shocking nature of some of the images and descriptions provided within this WebQuest. The most shocking image, that of young Mr. Till's body as it was displayed at his funeral, has been omitted from the sites provided, but the students may discover it on their own with additional research. These images are important, but you must judge for yourself as to what is appropriate for you, your students, and your community.


About the teacher:
Larry Buskey began his career as a teacher and filmmaker interested in media education and is one of the founders of Rise & Shine Productions. One of Rise & Shine's best-known programs is the Poetry Video Learning Project, an award-winning experiment in education that combines the teaching of poetry with the skills allowing students to then translate their words into images and sound for the screen. He went on to earn an MFA in film production at Bard College and is currently one of the technology teachers at PS161 in Manhattan.


Subject Areas:       
Social Studies

Grade Levels: 



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