A side view of the stage and seating at Ford’s Theatre. On the left is the Presidential Box with an American flag, a framed picture of George Washington and American flag bunting draped over the box.
View from the stage of Ford’s Theatre. Photo © Maxwell MacKenzie.

Narrative Writing: Lesson Activity Two

Learning Objectives and Standards:

  • I can determine how the narrator in “Lincoln’s Assassination Told by an Eye Witness” reflects on the assassination by expressing her thoughts and feelings. (RL.5.2)
  • I can describe how the narrator’s point of view influences how she describes events in her letter. (Rl.5.6)
  • I can participate in group discussions about “Lincoln’s Assassination Told by an Eye Witness” when making inferences about the text. (SL 5.1)


Explain the purpose of the second read.

  • Display and review the chart paper where you recorded student questions about the letter after the first read.
  • Say: During our first read, we learned so much about the facts and events described in Julia’s letter. Your thoughtful questions show that there’s much more to learn and explore, and we’ll continue working on that today. During our second read, we will consider Julia’s point of view on the assassination. A point of view is a way of looking at or thinking about something. Every author or narrator has their own point of view.
  • Read this quote from the last page of the letter and display it on the board:
    • “You will hear all this from the papers, but I can’t help writing it for things seen are mightier than things heard.”
  • Ask: Why do you think Julia included this line in her letter?
  • Call on students to respond with their thoughts.

Second read of “Lincoln’s Assassination Told by an Eye Witness” and Class Discussion

  • Say: For our second read of this letter, we will continue to use the Reporter’s Notebook Thinking Routine. Now that we have a better understanding of the facts and events described in the letter, we can start to focus on the narrator’s thoughts and feelings. This will help us better understand the narrator’s point of view on the assassination.
  • Read the letter aloud while students follow along or allow students to read independently or in pairs. During the second read, students draw a star next to the narrator’s thoughts and feelings about President Lincoln’s assassination. If using colored pencils, use a different color than the previous lesson.
  • Note: Much like the difference between facts and events, the difference between thoughts and feelings can be subtle. In this case, students don’t need to worry too much about this distinction.
  • Sample responses:
  1. Thought: “A man leaps from the president’s box, some ten feet, on to the stage. The truth flashes upon me.”
  2. Thought: “Cavalry come dashing up the street and stand with drawn swords before yon house. Too late! Too late! What mockery armed men are now.”
  3. Feeling: “I feel like a frightened child. I wish I could go home and have a good cry. I can’t bear to be alone.”
  4. Feeling: “He was still living when we came out to Hopeton, but we had scarcely choked down our breakfast next morning when the tolling bells announced the terrible truth.”
  • After the second read, students share aloud thoughts and feelings.
  • Put a star next to student responses on the master copy.

Class Discussion and Independent Work

  • Say: We’ve identified so many of Julia’s thoughts and feelings about the President’s assassination. Now we can use this information to make some inferences, or conclusions based on evidence, about Julia’s point of view. Remember that a point of view is a way of looking at or thinking about something. In her letter, Julia has given us evidence on her point of view about the assassination.
  • Ask: What is Julia’s point of view about the President’s assassination and how do you know what her view is?
  1. Students engage in a Think-Pair-Share.
  2. During the Think-Pair-Share, encourage students to ask each other, “What makes you say that?” This will help students describe their evidence and build on their explanations.
  • After the Think-Pair-Share, students have 8-10 minutes to write responses to the question: “What is Julia’s point of view about the President’s assassination and how do you know what her view is?” in their notebooks or on a blank piece of paper.


  • Use the “Pick-a-Stick” method to call on students to share portions of their responses in order to hold the entire class accountable for the information.
  1. Students think silently
  2. Pick from a group of sticks with each student’s name
  3. The chosen student responds
  • Refer back to the chart paper with student questions from the first read.
  • Ask: Have we answered any of these questions with the second read? If not, that’s okay! It’s great to be curious and we can always learn more about something later even if we didn’t learn it today!
  • Say: Today we considered Julia’s point of view on the assassination and tomorrow we will use her letter to make inferences about the points of view of other historical figures.